Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oil Kings & the WHL Bantam Draft


The Edmonton Oil Kings managed to do something today that their parent NHL club has repeatedly failed to do - they traded up in the draft and took how one of the truly elite players available.

More on that in a second.

The Portland Winter Hawks had the first decision to make on the day and opted to take Derrick Pouliot, a defenceman who played in Weyburn Saskatchewan. International Scouting Services had Pouliot slotted 9th on their list and had this to say about him in their WHL Draft Guide:
"A tremendously intelligent puck moving defenseman, Pouliot is often on the ice at the same time as Balog and shows incredible poise and control in finding his, often well covered but extremely gifted, teammate in open ice. Pouliot has great two way speed and great control of his angles and gap against puck carriers. He controls the lanes well in his own zone and once he gains control of the puck he has the hands and poise with the puck to get out of pressure and move down ice. He will carry the puck end to end and has a very strong shot from speed. Any team looking to add offence from the back side without sacrificing too much defensively will have Pouliot high on their list."
After the draft I had a chance to chat with Winter Hawks GM and Head Coach Mike Johnston and you can hear his comments on why Pouliot was the right guy for Portland... HERE.

The next team to the podium was the Moose Jaw Warriors. I spotted Chad Lang in active discussions with several GMs during the course of the day and in fact his club did make a few draft pick swaps. However, the Warriors were only too happy to have the #2 pick in the draft and wasted no time in choosing Morgan Reilly. The blueliner played Notre Dame this past season but hails from West Vancouver originally. ISS had Reilly ranked 4th and earlier in the week I offered up their comments about him. HERE, Chad Lang expalins why Rielly was the right man for the Warriors.

The Chilliwack Bruins were slated to pick 3rd but the host team decided to make a splash instead.

GM Bob Green pulled the trigger on a the day's biggest deal as he packaged Edmonton's own 1st round pick (9th overall), Prince George's 3rd round pick (acquired last year for Cameron Cepek), veteran forward Shayne Neigum as well their 2009 Import Draft pick to Chilliwack in exchange for the 3rd overall selection and the Bruins' Import pick in 2010.

With the 3rd pick of the draft Edmonton continued the parade of defencemen by selecting Griffin Reinhart. The son of former NHL defenceman Paul Reinhart (CGY & VAN) spent this past season with the Hollyburn Midget A1 Huskies in B.C. Here is the write up of the deal from the Oil Kings site. According to his dad/coach, Reinhart is 6'4 and 190 lbs... as a 14 year old! This guy could easily grow a couple more inches and end up Colten Teubert or Alex Plante sized which is exactly what the Oil Kings have really been missing from their blueline.

Not to be overlooked in this deal is the swap of Import Draft picks. With Tomas Vincour and Robin Soudek coming back, the Oil Kings really have no use for their 2009 pick but could conceivably need 2 this time next summer and the Bruins one is likely going to be much earlier than Edmonton's.

There was a 15-minute break after the first round during which time I had a chance to talk to Assistant GM Randy Hansch about the trade and the selection of Reinhart. Listen HERE.

Instead of me describing all the picks of the day I will suggest you read Alan Caldwell's blog called Small Thoughts At Large as he did a bang up job during the course of the day and lists stats for each player too.

I will get into some description of the rest of Edmonton's picks though starting with the round 2 selection of Left Winger Mitchell Moroz. Moroz, a power forward from Calgary, was ranked 18th overall by ISS and the Oil Kings were able to land him with the 30th pick. ISS:
"Few players in this draft are as competitive as Mitch Moroz. The heart and soul of the Northstars this season, Moroz is an energic animal who loves to battle. His great size and strength help him push his way through the boards with the puck. Moroz attacks with great speed and loves to shoot, in fact it’s not often
that he looks to set up a play or pass, he loves to get the puck on net and drive in hard. Moroz is not afraid to mix it up after the play either, if he doesn’t like something, he’ll be sure to react to it. Moroz protects the puck very well and will
punish anyone who tries to keep it away from him. A solid checker, Moroz can change a game with his stick, his effort or a big bone crunching hit.

WHL Potential: Excellent secondary scoring option and energetic role player
Round 3 saw Edmonton taking Center Morgan Zulinick of Kamloops. At 5'8, Zulinick is definitely small but he's quick and talented. ISS had him ranked 40th overall so Edmonton does well here to get him 52nd overall. Here is what ISS had to say about him:
"Plays like a big man, similar in mold to a Joe Thornton type player. Zulinick is an excellent passer who loves to set up the play, but can also score when called upon. Zulinick is very smooth with the puck and can dazzle with his quick hands and great body control. Turned many scouts heads when he was selected to the KIBIHT all star game last season as a first year bantam player, a feat that isn’t very common."
Matthew Miller became Oil King property in Round 4 when the home team called his name in the 74th spot. Miller did not appear in the top 100 for ISS blueliner of the Winnipeg Monarchs has decent size and can play at both ends of the rink.

The first local boy Edmonton took this year was forward Tristan Sieben who ISS had ranked 17th overall. They also had him 2nd in the "best hands" category and 5th for "Pure Scorer". Here are the comments from ISS:
"A tremendously gifted offensive talent, Sieben can dominate players with his extremely high skill level. A tremendous puck handler, Sieben dances his way through players and has the skating ability to get free and into dangerous scoring areas all
on his own. The biggest knock on Sieben is that he can be a bit selfish at times and will try to do it all on his own.

WHL Potential: Great goal scorer"
Edmonton's 6th round choice was Cody Pettapeace, another defenceman. The blueliner is in line for a jump to Midget AAA next year after his last season in Saskatoon.

In Round 7 the Oil Kings did something I didn't expect - they drafted a goalie. Wade Moyls is a 6'3 14-year-old playing in Kamloops. I was surprised because of Edmonton's depth at the position but as GM Bob Green told me afterwards... you can never have enough goalie depth.

Ashton Saunter was Edmonton's 8th round pick, a defenceman from small town Saskatchewan. He's of average size but he had more than a point per game for Weyburn this past season.

In Round 9 the Oil Kings added Bowen Croft to their organization. He's a 5'10 forward that had 40 points in 32 games this past year with Sherwood Park. I happened to be out of the room when this pick was made and neglected to ask Bob Green about the player... as you'll notice when you listen to his post-draft comments.

Edmonton ended their participation in the days events with back-to-back picks in round 10. The first pick was thier own and they chose Anthony Borri of the Coquitlam Chiefs. Interestingly enough, the Prince Albert Raiders offered their 10th pick to Edmonton "for a Heineken". The Raiders were done for the day and in the end the Oil Kings took the pick with an agreement to swap their 10th rounders in 2010.

With P.A.'s 10th round bullet Edmonton grabbed AJHL forward Darren Kramer, a tough guy who racked up 221 PIM in 38 regular season games with the Grande Prairie Storm. This sounds like a player that fans are going to get to see next year and are going to get to like. He's going to be riding shot gun protecting the small skilled guys like Michael St. Croix and Dylan Wruck.

As I mentioned, I spoke with GM Bob Green after the draft and got a breakdown of each player they selected (except Croft). You can hear those Bob Green comments HERE.

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