Monday, August 3, 2015

McDavid, Nurse among Oilers' top five prospects

By winning the NHL Draft Lottery, the Edmonton Oilers were able to select the best prospect available, center Connor McDavid.
By virtue of previous first-round picks, the Oilers have other talented players in their system. The hope is, in the near future, those prospects provide a strong supporting cast for McDavid and the other No. 1 picks already on the NHL roster.
Here is a look at the Oilers' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:
How acquired: 1st round (No. 1), 2015 NHL Draft
Last season: Erie, OHL: 47 GP, 44-76-120
Considered a generational talent, McDavid's arrival has long been anticipated. McDavid (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) joins a roster already with three No. 1 picks: forwards Taylor HallRyan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov.
McDavid, 18, gave Oilers fans a taste of things to come with an impressive performance at development camp, scoring five goals in the scrimmage. The latest piece of a rebuilding puzzle, the Oilers are hoping McDavid can help end a nine-year Stanley Cup Playoff drought, but won't put any added pressure on him.
"He's strong but it's different when you're playing against NHL players," general manager Peter Chiarelli said after the draft. "There's going to be battles he loses and there's going to be mistakes he makes. I've been asked if he's going to be an impact player next season and I would say no."
Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16
How acquired: 1st round (No. 7), 2013 NHL Draft
Last season: Oilers: 2 GP, 0-0-0; Sault Ste. Marie, OHL: 36 GP, 10-23-33
Nurse, 20, had a solid training camp with the Oilers and was kept through the first week of last season before being sent back to the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman had a strong season, which included winning a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Extremely mobile for his size, Nurse seems ready to jump into the Oilers lineup this season, but with a logjam of defensemen, he is likely to start the year with Bakersfield in the American Hockey League. But a strong training camp could force the Oilers hand.
Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16 (midseason)
How acquired: 1st round (No. 3), 2014 NHL Draft
Last season: Oilers: 37 GP, 2-7-9; Kelowna, WHL: 32 GP, 19-34-53
A strong training camp and Edmonton's lack of center depth allowed Draisaitl to start last season with the Oilers. Unfortunately, the rookie was exposed defensively by more experienced centers. Draisaitl also struggled offensively, scoring two goals in 37 games.
With the playoffs out of reach, the Oilers decided to send him back to junior, where his rights were traded from Prince Albert to Kelowna in the Western Hockey League. Draisaitl joined the Rockets for the second half of the season and helped them win the league and earn a berth in the Memorial Cup. Draisaitl was named Most Valuable Player at the tournament despite an overtime loss to Oshawa in the final.
At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, the 19-year-old is physically ready to make the jump to the NHL, but his skating speed has been questioned and was considered a reason for his struggles. Draisaitl was able to work on his game in juniors but could be hard-pressed to make the Oilers out of training camp with Edmonton possessing depth down the middle. A move to the wing is a possibility.
Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16
How acquired: Trade with New York Islanders
Last season: Islanders: 8 GP, 0-1-1; Bridgeport, AHL: 59 GP, 7-15-22
Reinhart, 21, played junior hockey with the Edmonton Oil Kings, making the defenseman familiar to the Oilers. Reinhart captained the Oil Kings to a Memorial Cup championship in 2014 but struggled to make the jump to the NHL last season. He played eight games for the Islanders, spending most of the season with Bridgeport in the AHL. Edmonton traded the 16th and 33rd picks in the 2015 NHL Draft for Reinhart, who was the No. 4 pick in the 2012 draft. The Oilers believe his shutdown ability at the junior level will translate to the NHL.
Reinhart is physically imposing at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, but his skating has come into question. It's likely he and Nurse will battle for one roster spot at training camp. If Reinhart's skating hasn't improved in the offseason, he probably will start the season in the AHL.
Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17
How acquired: Trade with Calgary Flames
Last season: Oilers: 1 GP, 0-1-0, 2.00 GAA, .969 SV%; Oklahoma City, AHL: 53 GP, 25-22-4, 2.56 GAA, .918 SV%
Brossoit, 22, is another player familiar to the Oilers after helping the Oil Kings win the WHL championship in 2012, when he was named playoff MVP.
The 6-foot-3, 202-pound goaltender was acquired by the Oilers from the Flames early in the 2013-14 season; he was selected by Calgary in the sixth round (No. 164) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
Brossoit played one game with Edmonton last season, making 49 saves in a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. He is expected to be the starting goaltender for Bakersfield this season, but could be an NHL regular within the two years.
Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

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