Edmonton - May 30, 2014 - The rumblings and rumors have started to pick up pace. The draft is on the horizon and free agency is looming. And all of this talk is only going to pick up steam as the days go by up until the draft in Philadelphia on June 27th and 28th.
My oh my, what is Edmonton to do?
My idea is that if Oilers GM Craig MacTavish can't make a move or a series of moves to vastly improve this squad to the point to where it's a playoff contender, then perhaps they should focus on offering the younger players some more on-ice experience and hope for the best during the season and at the 2015 draft.
I've said before that this summer is going to possibly be the most important in the history of the team but I have to retract that statement now. I believe next summer will be the most important. The draft and free agency is looking tasty in 2015. Going into the new arena with a winning team should be the highest priority for everyone in the Oilers organization.
The draft is going to be sick in 2015 and one of the things that the Oilers have been missing out on is acquiring that superstar defender through said draft. Where's the Drew Doughtys or the Alex Pietrangelos? Why are the Victor Hedmans of the world so hard to get? Sure they could've had Ryan Murray (Yikes!), Griffin Reinhart or Morgan Rielly in 2012 instead of Yakupov. Or the Oilers could've selected Adam Larsson (currently toiling in the AHL) in 2011. In 2010, they could've passed on Hall and selected Alex Gudbranson... I'm happy they did in fact pass on those defenders and took the players they did.
The 2015 class has one of the previously mentioned superstars in waiting. He's a young American from Massachusets named is Noah Hanifin.
He currently plays for the US NTDP program but he has committed to Boston College for next year. At the moment the 17 year old is coming in at 6'2" 201lbs... Crikey! There's room to grow there.
I've read his comparables range from Jack Johnson to Seth Jones to a more offensive Ryan Suter. Sounds good to me!
Here's what Nick Perri of thescoutingreport.org had to say about Hanifin.
"The highly touted defenseman also had a strong performance at the U17 Hockey Challenge. He plays a solid shutdown game in his own end, using his size and his stick work to eliminate chances and neutralize forwards. Hanifin makes strong defensive reads and recoveries and is tough to beat outside; maintaining great gap control and utilizing his hockey IQ and anticipation. He is also skilled with the puck and moves very well for a big defenseman. Hanifin recently announced that he has expedited his high school studies and will arrive at Boston College a year early as a true 17-year-old defenseman so it will interesting to monitor how the Norwood, Mass. native fares next season."
Kyle Woodlief of the Redline Report has also had good things to say about Hanifin.
"He's a once in a generation type defenceman. At 17 years old, he's more advanced in his game than Seth Jones was at the age of 17." -Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer.
Draft Guru Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus also had high praise regarding Hanifin's performance at the U18s via Twitter.
"Noah Hanifin has been a huge standout at the U18s this yr. Almost as good a tourney as Jones at same age, better than Trouba & Eichel."
Word has it that there are some in the scouting fraternity that believe Hanifin could pass Jack Eichel and challenge Connor McDavid for 1st overall in the 2015 draft.
It could mean another miserable season in Oil Country but the reward being what lies at the 2015 draft and free agency.
What do you think? If no real opportunities arise to improve this team immedietely, should the Oilers stay the course and continue with the kids? OR should they start to shed themselves of this high end talent and overpay to bring in some real veteran presence?
Beer League Hero has been an Edmonton Oilers fan since the days of wooden sticks and no defense hockey. Born and raised in Camrose, Alberta, BLH's first exposure to hockey was at the now defunct Viking Cup International Hockey Tournament. He's had his own blog - BeerLeagueHeroes.weebly.com since 2011. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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