The trick for the Edmonton Oilers and any of the other 29 NHL teams is to find a Jeff Skinner in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Only one player can win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year, and that player the past season was Carolina Hurricanes baby-faced forward. Skinner wasn’t drafted first overall and, in fact, slipped all the way to the seventh slot.
The knocks on the 5-foot-11, 193-pound from Markham, Ont. were his skating and strength. But while there still is room for development in these areas of Skinner’s game, he demonstrated in 2010-11 that he belongs with the big boys with his 31 goal, 63 point season.
Is there someone from this draft class that can make an immediate impact? Most scouts classify this group as deep, but don't think many will step in next year and contribute in the same manner Skinner did.
One detail to remember is that of the 16 vote getters for the Calder Trophy this past season, only Skinner, Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall and Anaheim Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler were from the 2010 draft class. San Jose Sharks sniper Logan Couture and New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner were selected in the 2007 and 2006 drafts, respectively.
Here are the other vote getters for the Calder, with the year they were drafted: Corey Crawford (2003), John Carlson (2008), P.K. Subban (2007), Sergei Bobrovsky (free agent), Kevin Shattenkirk (2007), Tyler Ennis (2008), Brad Marchand (2006), Derek Stepan (2008), Michal Neuvirth (2006), Jordan Eberle (2008) and James Reimer (2006).
Here are three things about 10 first-round prospects for the 2011 NHL draft at the Xcel Energy on Friday:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer Rebels, C
Height: 6-0. Weight: 164
Hometown: Burnaby, B.C.
- Played in the same minor hockey system as Joe Sakic.
- Led the WHL in assists with 75.
- Attended many Canucks games as a kid and liked to watch the offensive exploits of the line of Brendan Morrison, Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi.
Adam Larsson, Skelleftea AIK, D
Height: 6-3. Weight: 200
Hometown: Skelleftea, Sweden
- Only third defenceman in Swedish Elite League history to play at age 16. The other two were Calle Johansson and Victor Hedman.
- He helped Skelleftea AIK advance to the 2010-11 Swedish final, but lost to Farjestads.
- His father, Robert, played 249 games with Skelleftea from 1985-95 and was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the sixth round (112th overall) in 1988.
Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener Rangers, LW
Height: 6-0. Weight: 207
- At 17, he was the youngest in 30 years to be named Rangers captain and first European captain in 48-year franchise’s history. He also was captain for Sweden’s national under-16, under-17, and under-18 teams.
- Debuted in the Swedish Elite League in 2008-09 at 16 years and 90 days making him the youngest player in Djurgarden history. He played three games that season, registering one assist.
- His dad, Tony, played defence for Hammarby (1977-1985) in the Swedish Elite League.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs, C
Height: 6-1. Weight: 170
Hometown: Saint-Jerome, Que.
- Won Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as 2011 Memorial Cup MVP with three goals and six points in four games, including an overtime winner.
- Became the sixth player in 12 years to be named MVP for his league playoffs and Memorial Cup, joining Brad Richards (2000), Danny Groulx (2002), Derek Roy (2003), Corey Perry (2005) and Taylor Hall (2009).
- He is one of nine Sea Dogs to be ranked on the NHL Central Scouting list. He and his linemates, Tomas Jurco and Zack Phillips, all could be first-round selections.
Sean Couturier, Drummondville, C
Height: 6-3. Weight: 197
Hometown: Bathurst, N.B.
- Was the youngest member of Canada’s 2011 world junior team.
- Suffered from mononucleosis last summer and as a result didn’t hit his stride until the second-half of the season when he checked in with 20 goals in his final 21 games.
- His father, Sylvain, was drafted 65th overall by Los Angeles in 1986 and played 33 games for the Kings between 1988-89 and 1991-92. He is now the Acadie-Bathurst Titans general manager.
Dougie Hamilton, Niagara IceDogs, D
Height: 6-4. Weight: 187
Hometown: St. Catharines, Ont.
- His father, Doug, was an Olympic rower for Canada, winning a bronze medal in 1984 and also competed in 1988. His mother, Lynn, competed on Canada’s basketball team at the 1984 Olympics and won World Championship gold and bronze medals.
- His older brother, Freddie, was chosen 129th overall by San Jose last year and also plays for the IceDogs.
- Roomed with Nugent-Hopkins when the two won gold for Canadian under-18 team at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.
Ryan Strome, Niagara IceDogs, C
Height: 6-0. Weight: 175
Hometown: Mississauga, Ont.
- After splitting his 61-game (eight goals, 27 points) rookie OHL season with Barrie and Niagara, he improved a Canadian junior-best 79 points to 106 to finish third in league scoring. He was named most improved player in Eastern Conference coaches poll.
- Learned to skate with his Dad and Grandpa in the hydro fields behind his home as well as 4 a.m. visits to play at the outdoor city hall rink.
- He and his teammate, Hamilton, could go in the top-10 selections.
Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers, D
Height: 5-10. Weight: 166
Hometown: Aurora, Ont.
- Motivated after being cut from the Canadian under-18 team last spring. He made the 2011 under-18 team and was named the tournament’s top defencemen after his four-goal, 13-point performance in seven games for fourth-place Canada.
- Finished first among OHL defencemen with 26 goals and second with 79 points in 63 games this past season.
- Played minor hockey with fellow draft prospects Daniel Catenacci and Barclay Goodrow on York Simcoe Express that won provincial bantam (2008) and pee wee (2006) titles. He credits Express coach, Maurice Catenacci, with developing his offensive skills from the blue-line position.
Jamie Oleksiak, Northeastern University, D
Height: 6-7. Weight: 244
- Likely not a top-10 pick, but has intrigued scouts because of his size.
- Played minor hockey for Toronto Young Nats, but because father is an American, he has dual citizenship and soon will decide as to whether he play for Canada or the United States at the 2012 world junior championship.
- His father, Richard, lettered in track at Colgate University and was a member of the Nichols high school hall of fame in football, basketball and track.
Boone Jenner, Oshawa Generals, C
Height: 6-1. Weight: 204
Hometown: Dorchester, Ont.
- Nephew of former NHLer Bill Carroll, who won three Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders (1982, 1983 and 1984) and one more with the Edmonton Oilers (1985).
- Like his uncle, Jenner is one of the best face-off men in this draft.
- Older brother, Leo, patrolled the blue-line for five junior seasons with the Plymouth Whalers (2005-10).