SUN Hockey Pool

Second kick at the draft can for Oilers

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:56 AM ET

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers have been here before.

However, unlike last year's two-horse race, this time, there are potentially five players who could possibly been chosen first overall in Friday's NHL Entry Draft.

Having finished at the bottom of the league standings for the second year running, the Oilers have the distinction of selecting first overall again. They also have the 19th pick aquired from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade for Dustin Penner.

Currently in a rebuilding phase, there isn't a place on the roster where the Oilers couldn't improve.

They seemed to have hit a home run selecting Taylor Hall last year with the first overall pick. Hall was having an outstanding rookie season, before it ended prematurely with an ankle injury. He seems to have all the tool required to be a star in the league.

The question for the club heading into this year is whether the team decides to select who they deem to be the most talented player available, or choose to fill their most pressing need.

Here's a look at the top five prospects in this year's draft.

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C – Red Deer Rebels (WHL), 6'0, 170 lbs

Hopkins collected 106 points as a 17-year-old in the Western Hockey League this season. He is considered the most talented player in the draft with great hands, vision and outstanding understanding of the game.

According to scouts, his upside is limitless, however, he made require another year of junior before he's physically ready to play in the NHL.

Stengths: Vision, Passing, Understanding of the game.

Weakness: Size

2. Adam Larsson, D – Skelleftea (Sweden), 6'2, 200 lbs

Larsson has been playing alongside men in the Swedish Elite league and could be the most NHL-ready player available in the draft.

Scouts say he's a solid defenceman, who has is already drawing comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom, Larsson has the potential to anchor an NHL team's blueline for years.

Strengths: Puck handling, poise

Weakness: Limited offence.

3. Gabriel Landeskog, LW – Kitchener Rangers (OHL), 6'0, 207 lbs

Another talented Swede, Landeskog is also being touted as ready to make the jump from junior into the NHL. He captained the Rangers in his rookie season.

Scouts say he was a leader both on and off the ice this past season. He has the potential to be a dominant power forward.

Strengths: NHL ready, leadership

Weakness: Limited offensive potential

4. Jonathan Huberdeau, C – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL), 6'1, 170 lbs

Huberdeau had 105-points in junior this season, then led his team to the Memorial Cup championship, claiming MVP honours along the way. His stock seemed to rise with every game he played this year.

Scouts say Huberdeau has great hand and has drawn comparisons to Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.

Strengths: Stick handling, passing

Weakness: Strength, needs to add weight.

5. Sean Couturier, C – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL), 6'5, 195 lbs

His size alone make him ready to step into the NHL next season. Couturier may be a victim of overscouting as his every move has been scrutinized for the past two seasons. He collected 96 points this year and represented Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Scouts say he's a solid two-way player who can be dominant when he wants to.

Strengths: Speed, offensive ability

Weakness: Questions about his lack of physical play.

Who should the Oilers pick? Vote at edmontonsun.com/oilerdraft


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