As the Edmonton Oilers continue to rebuild their hockey club under the leadership of General Manager Craig MacTavish, their pool of draft selections for 2014 suffered some losses in a number of mid-season deals.
Fortunately, several promising pieces were added to the puzzle in return, such as goaltender Ben Scrivens, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a third-round selection and David Perron, who was part of the Magnus Paajarvi trade that also sent a second-round selection to St. Louis.
Although the Oilers still retained their coveted third-overall 2014 selection, the previously mentioned acquisitions left the Oilers with no draft selection after the first round until early in the fourth round. As predicted by many, the Oilers selected at number three German centerman Leon Draisaitl, who shows potential to finish out in a top-six role.
Beyond that, the Oilers’ selections were a mixture of over-agers and projects, as was to be expected from what was already a relatively weak draft in terms of depth in the later rounds. By the time the Oilers were able to make their second through sixth selections, there was not much left in the way of blue-chip selections, so instead, a number of draft-and-follow types follow up their top selection on this year’s list.
Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
1st round, 3rd overall
Height: 6-1 Weight: 209
With the third overall selection, the Edmonton Oilers opted to take hulking centerman Leon Draisaitl, over closely ranked fellow centerman Sam Bennett (who went to Calgary with the fourth overall pick). The 6’2” 215-pound German player just finished his second season with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL, logging a team-leading 38 goals and 67 assists. As an interesting aside, Leon’s father Peter was a teammate of Mark Messier’s brother Paul with Mannheim in the German Bundesliga, as it was then called.
While Draisaitl only has a limited amount of North American hockey experience under his belt, his talent ceiling is extremely high and his natural ability is evident. While his skating is perhaps average, his hockey IQ is impressive and his size and strength give him an obvious advantage over a number of his peers, at least at the junior level. He dominates the ice and leans on his opponents, carving out room to play and generating offense for both himself and his linemates.
Because the Oilers are so sparse at the center position, it is entirely possible that Draisaitl could find himself in the mix for a position with the big club as early as the 2014-15 season. It would make for a steep learning curve for the obviously talented but green 18-year-old. Draisaitl spoke with Hockey’s Future at the 2014 Draft, where he noted that he “had some stuff to work on,” but would be training hard in the summer to give himself his best chance to impress the staff at camp in the fall.
Draisaitl spoke with the media after being chosen by the Oilers, with some of his comments captured in this HF video.
William Lagesson, D, Frolunda J20 (SuperElit)
4th round, 91st overall
Height: 6-2, Weight: 200
A strong selection at 91, William Lagesson is a Swedish defenseman making his North American debut in 2014-15. A physical player by nature, this big, strong rearguard is not afraid to get involved in tough one-on-one battles and make himself extremely difficult to play against. Heis a true impact player who has played a key role on his junior teams in Sweden.
While his ability is most evident in his own zone with his tenacious desire to knock his opponent off the puck, Lagesson has a decent first pass and is able to jump up into the rush from time to time. A good skater for his size, Lagesson has the makings of a good two-way defender. He continues to develop at a fairly steady rate across each season and shows flashes of offensive brilliance from time to time. He is an intriguing talent who will be looking to have an impressive first season in North America with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL.
Zach Nagelvoort is a 20-year-old in his final year of draft eligibility, currently in his first season with the Big Ten school the University of Michigan. Nagelvoort logged time in the net bouncing around the North American Hockey League (NAHL) for two seasons before making his NCAA debut.
Nagelvoort put up impressive numbers in his freshman season, logging a 11-9-3 record with a 2.20 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. He was no slouch in his seasons prior either, maintaining a .929 save percentage and 2.25 goals-against average across two years in the NAHL. Nagelvoort will likely play another three years at the University of Michigan before taking any further steps within the Oilers organization.
Liam Coughlin, C, Vernon Vipers (BCHL)
5th round pick, 130th Overall
Height: 6-2, Weight: 190
Adding to the mix of Oilers prospects drafted out of the BCHL (see Jujhar Khaira, Kyle Bigos, Kellen Jones, and Brad Hunt for previous years’ examples), Edmonton’s scouting staff selected 19-year-old Liam Coughlin at 130th overall. The American-born center has committed to Boston University for the 2014-15 season.
A big body who is not afraid to get involved in some tough battles, Coughlin is an average to above-average puck mover and needs a bit of work in the skating department. Spending four years at Boston University will likely help him further develop his toolkit. This prospect is a true draft-and-follow type.
Tyler Vesel, C, Omaha Lancers (USHL)
6th round, 153rd Overall
Height: 5-11, Weight: 180
Continuing with the theme of over-agers, the Oilers drafted NCAA-bound, former USHL centerman Tyler Vesel in the 153rd spot. Vesel was a scoring machine for the Omaha Lancers in 2013-14, putting up 71 points in 49 games with 33 goals and 38 assists. A solid pick among some underwhelming late round selections, Vesel appears to have a big offensive upside, despite being slightly undersized.
Vesel will likely play four years of collegiate hockey at the University of Nebraska-Omaha before the Oilers make any further decisions with this prospect. It will be interesting to note whether or not his offensive production can be maintained at the NCAA level, which appears to be his calling card and ticket to future success.
With their final selection of the 2014 NHL Draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected Val-d’Or Foreurs backup goaltender Keven Bouchard. While his team won the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship and made a deep run in the 2014 Memorial Cup, Bouchard watched most of the action from the bench. The 18-year-old was called upon in one frame during the tournament and stopped all 13 shots he faced, a performance the Oilers’ scouting staff had the opportunity to view.
Though Bouchard has only one QMJHL season under his belt, his record was respectable at 17-7 with two shutouts and a 2.95 goals against average. A less-than-stellar .887 save percentage stands out amongst those statistics, but as is the case with many young goaltenders, development can be somewhat unpredictable and Bouchard is no exception with likely at least two more years of Major Junior hockey in his future.
Oilers’ Director of Amateur Scouting Stu MacGregor spoke with the media following the completion of the draft, with some of his comments being captured in this HF video.