The Edmonton Oilers snapped a 10-year streak of missing the playoffs in 2017 and entered 2018 as one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup.
The Oilers started the season at 4-7-1 and never got back over .500. Somehow, the Oilers went from being a Cup favourite to drafting in the top-10 in a matter of seven months. This will be the ninth time in 10 years that Edmonton has drafted in the top-10. Five of those nine players are currently on the Oilers roster—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (No.1 in 2011), Darnell Nurse (No.7 in 2013), Leon Draisaitl (No.3 in 2014), Connor McDavid (No.1 in 2015) and Jesse Puljujarvi (No.4 in 2016).
The Oilers could use another top-end defenseman prospect, but with the top-5 blueliners already off of the board, they could look to bolster a forward pool that includes Kailer Yamamoto (No.22 in 2017) and Tyler Benson (No.32 in 2016), but little else.
With the No.10 Overall Pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Edmonton Oilers select…
Jesperi Kotkaniemi — C —Finland ????????
Kotkaniemi has shot up draft boards throughout the season and has a chance to be a top-5 pick and should be a top-10 selection. Kotkaniemi played in Finland’s top league this season, picking up 10 goals and 19 assists (29 points) in 57 games with Ässät as a 17-year-old. Kotkaniemi also picked up 22 points (10G / 12A) in 20 international games with the Finnish U18 and U20 teams.
The Oilers already have three great centres on their roster with McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins, but Draisaitl has spent a lot of time at right wing in the last two years and RNH looked great on McDavid’s left side late in the year. This makes adding a player with Kotkaniemi’s upside a no-brainer, even if it’s not exactly a position of need. This is ‘best player available’ selection.
“A smart forward with a dangerous shot, Kotkaniemi possesses a high hockey IQ and determination with the skills to back it up. Positions himself well and often seems to be a step ahead of plays. Stickhandling and creativity allow him to split professional defences as a teenager. Decent size and frame, yet a very capable skater.” — Elite Prospects