It’s been six long seasons since the Edmonton Oilers have graced the NHL Playoffs. The last time they were in the playoffs, they were in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Since that time, its been mediocrity followed by watching some down right inept hockey, culminating in three first overall draft picks in a row. The Oilers have been bad for quite some time and Oilers’ fans are becoming more desperate for a competitive team and playoff hockey.
Where this post takes me is, on the horizon, there could be that final finishing piece that could get the Oilers to where they need to go coming from the 2013 NHL Draft. That brainy, brawny, right handed shooting, minute eating, dominate defenseman. The Oilers could have three cracks at one if they can garner a top 10 pick for the 2013 NHL Draft. Those three defenseman are Seth Jones, Ryan Pulock and Rasmus Ristolainen.
Seth Jones is one of the top 2 prizes of the 2013 Draft, the other being prodigious goal scorer, Nathan MacKinnon. Jones is a total package in terms of defensemen. He’s strong, mobile, offensively and defensively aware. A real difference maker in terms of producing goals and preventing them. Already at 6’3″ 205 lbs, he is still growing into his frame and the end result could be a linebacker on skates. Jones is getting ready to make his WHL debut with the Portland Winterhawks.
Ryan Pulock is a player with an already NHL calibre slapshot. Scored 19 goals this past season with Brandon Wheat Kings, many of them with his vaunted shot. Pulock isn’t just a cannon from the point though. He plays the game with a lot of poise and keeps his own end of the ice clean on most nights. Thoughts of having Ryan Nugent-Hopkins setting up on the right hashmark feeding cross seem passes to Pulock on the powerplay, has me thinking happy thoughts. Pulock is ranked in the 5-10 range in preseason rankings. Pulock doesn’t possess the sheer athleticism that Jones does, but is a very dependable defenseman in his own right at both ends of the ice.
Rasmus Ristolainen is another blue chip prospect that figures to go high in the 2013 Draft. Another all around, big minute defender with an above average shot. The thing separating him from Jones is strength, although that may still come in time. He’s above average in many of the hockey skillsets and in terms of potential, but doesn’t have an elite skillset yet. That may grow in time. Doesn’t quite have the polish that Jones and Pulock do, but there is a lot of room to grow into his game. He is already measuring at 6’3″ 190 lbs and getting bigger, so size won’t be an issue for him. He just needs to fill out and be able to stand his ground. Ristolainen figures to go in the 7-12 range of next season’s draft.
So, as Oilers’ fans, we have to ask the question, do the Oilers finish the job and secure another top 10 pick (the higher, the better)? Or do the Oilers start the mantra of winning at all costs. It’s a question Oilers management will have to ask themselves. Judging by the amount of moves that the Oilers have done during the offseason, we may already have our answer, but it may all be for the greater good. I’m like everyone else, I want to see the Oilers play a playoff game ASAP, but putting off those plans for one more year and drinking more of that bitter kool-aid might be in the Oilers best interests in order to shore up that backend piece the Oilers are missing. And of course, my usual disclaimer of the lockout might change things if there is no hockey to be played applies here as well.