The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers have had their struggles over the 2014-15 season, and are now showing signs of improvement. The two bottom-five NHL teams have seen success in recent games, with the Leafs winning their past two games while the Oilers have won three straight.
What used to be known as the #JackOff in the middle of the season by Steve Dangle in the middle of the season has become the battle for a better 2015 draft pick. The Leafs currently sit at 27th overall in the NHL standings, while the Oilers are seeded 28th overall. Their current positions in the standings would likely see Edmonton draft third overall and the Leafs draft fourth overall. For the Oilers and Leafs, which player is the most ideal to draft in 2015?
Edmonton Oilers: Noah Hanifin
Since the Oilers have a significant defensive deficiency, the team obviously needs to improve their blue line. Although the team has a top defenceman coming up in Darnell Nurse, Noah Hanifin would be a great addition to the Oilers’ blue line. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound defenceman is reliable for his large frame, from his poke check to his offensive prowl. Although he says that he needs to improve his ability to read the defensive zone, Hanifin will be able to progress as a great prospect of the future for the team he is drafted by. There isn’t any certainty to who the Edmonton Oilers will draft, but the future of the team’s success is showing a bright spot with their recent success.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Dylan Strome
Dylan Strome will be the future dynamic top center of the team he is drafted by. With a battle for who will be drafted higher, Dylan Strome can address the issue of center while his competitor Mitch Marner can address the position of top winger. The Leafs need to address the top center issue, with Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri considered legitimate second/third line centers. Dylan Strome’s size of 6-foot-3 will address the need for a big center with an offensive ability that is noted to be one of a kind. If Dylan Strome is drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team will have a top line center of the future to develop the top line’s two-way game.
The Leafs and Oilers have faced their distinct challenges in the past decade. Both teams have improved their roster on paper, but their changes need to be proven on the ice. As the Leafs progress, they need to address their two-way game while the Oilers need to focus on their defensive style of play. If the proper changes are made within the next few years, the Oilers and Leafs can rise as contenders that thrive at both ends of the ice.