It’s draft night in the National Hockey League, and there’s a good chance one Peace Region product has his name called.
Lane Zablocki, who was born in Peace River, split last season between the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels.
“He could put up probably 40-50 points, not in his rookie season, but he’ll be able to put up 40-50 points consistently. You’re going to get into some penalty trouble with him as well, so that’s one thing that kind of plays against him a little bit,” said Andrew Forbes, contributor and special events coordinator with The Hockey Writers. “In terms of where he ends up, he’s probably late second round, maybe into the third round.”
Zablocki has amassed 46 goals and 91 points over 136 games in his WHL career, and also spent the 2014-15 season with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers will pick 22nd overall tonight. It’s unfamiliar territory for a team accustomed to having a lottery pick.
“[Kailer] Yamamoto’s been kind of thrown out there. There’s Robbie Thomas from London that might fit in nicely with Edmonton down the road. Those kind of guys are guys that are slotted in that spot in most rankings. Some guys that might fly under the radar are Ivan Lodnia from Erie, he’s coming off a pretty good season. Definitely an underrated prospect in terms of what he’s capable of. Even a guy like Alex Formenton,” Forbes said.
Thursday, the Oilers made a splash sending Jordan Eberle, who had a lackluster postseason, to the New York Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome.
“I think the Eberle move has a lot to do with clearing that cap space for re-signing Draisaitl and McDavid. Even a guy like Kris Russell. I think that’s a guy that they might look to re-sign, and they need some space for that,” Forbes explained. “In terms of whether they make another big deal, or another deal at all on the draft table, you might see a couple picks fly here or there. But I don’t think you’re going to see any big things from the Oilers come draft day.”
It’s a toss-up who New Jersey will take with the number one selection, but if history repeats itself, Forbes believes it will be Nolan Patrick.
“We see this so often, and we saw with the Oilers even with the Yakupov pick a few years back, is that you almost get bullied into picking that guy first overall. He’s been talked about all year and he’s the consensus number one, so I think either way they go, they’re going to get a great centre. A guy that can develop into an NHL centre, or a top NHL centre.”
Halifax Mooseheads’ Nico Hischier is the projected number two pick. The Swiss-born centreman put up an impressive 38 goals and 86 points in his first season in North America in 2016-17.
The NHL Draft goes in Chicago this year. It begins at 5 p.m. Mountain Time this evening.