Round three of the 2020 NHL draft, maybe the most intriguing round of the entire draft. When the Edmonton Oilers and Ken Holland step up to pick, they will have a number of good players to choose from. Today I will be doing part three of a five-part series on who the Oilers should each round. After doing rounds one and two earlier this month, I will be doing round three today.
When it comes to family hockey ties, Micheal Benning may be in one of the best. His brother Matthew plays for the Oilers, his uncle Jim is the Vancouver Canucks GM, and his dad, Brian was a former NHL’er.
Micheal is not the typical stay at home defenseman like his brother. He is an offensive defenseman and a demon on the power play. This year, he put up an outstanding 75 points in 54 games while playing in the AJHL. Making him the highest-scoring defenseman in the league. The offensive that Benning has put up has scouts comparing him to Cale Makar. Makar is currently playing for the Colorado Avalanche. He has put up 50 points in 57 games as a rookie defenseman. If Benning turned into a version of Makar, that would be great. As the Oilers are still looking for a true number one defenseman, even though Oscar Klefbom is close.
Benning could team up with Oilers prospect, Philip Broberg in the future to make a formidable defense pairing that is strong in the defensive zone and on the offense. I could see Benning stepping into the Oilers lineup in a few years as he is committed to the University of Denver for the next two years.
After going surprisingly undrafted last year, Drummondville Voltigeurs forward Xavier Simoneau returned to the QMJHL this year with vengeance and dominated all year. For some reason, he was undrafted because of his small stature of 5’7″, even though he put up point-per-game numbers all year. This year, he proved scouts wrong when he put up 89 points in 61 games.
Simoneau has an exceptional on-ice vision that has people comparing him to Jonathon Drouin and even Sidney Crosby. He recently won the CHL humanitarian award for the player who displays the most commitment to their community. He created a program called Friends Of Simy who rewarded hardworking kids with learning disabilities to be able to go to a Voltigeurs game. Simoneau designed and sold hats to raise awareness for the cause. If you want to check his work out click here.
Despite having seven (!) top players leave the team in the offseason, Simoneau took on the role of being team captain and willed his team to the playoffs. The next closest scorer on his team was 29 points away from him. Simoneau could easily turn into the steal in this draft if he keeps up the hard work. I could see Simoneau turning into a top-line forward. He could line up on Connor McDavid‘s left-wing and fill a role that the Oilers have been trying to fill for years. Simoneau and McDavid’s strong skill set could mesh well and we could see a future top line in the NHL.
Tyler Tullio may be small, but he still puts up points. Weighing in at 5’9″ 161 lbs, Tullio is considered to be smaller than the regular NHLer. Despite his small frame, Tullio had a solid year playing for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. He put up 66 points in 62 games including 27 goals. Tullio is described as a playmaking forward. Interestingly enough he patterns himself after super pest Brad Marchand. Both players love to piss off the opponent and get in their faces while they put up points. If Tullio joins the Oilers, he could grab a spot on the 3rd line and be a scoring winger that gets the Oilers some extra power plays. Every Stanley Cup winning team has one of these guys and Tullio could be one of them.
The next player on my list is Wisconsin native, Carson Bantle. He spent the year in the USHL putting up 49 points in 49 games, impressive for his age. What’s more impressive is that he put up point-per-game stats while playing for the worst team in the league, the Madison Capitals. Next year, Bantle will play for Michigan Tech of the NCAA. Hopefully, he gets to play with better players on his new team. I could see Bantle evolving into a top 6 forward for the Oilers. Maybe he’s the guy who replaces Zack Kassian when he leaves. He has the foot speed and shot to replace Kassian but the question would be “Can Bantle bring a physical trait to his game like Kassian”? We will find out when he starts the year at Michigan Tech!
Next on my list, I have center, Jack Finley. Finley played the past season in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs and put up the impressive stat line of 57 points in 62 games as the Chiefs second-line center. This season, the Chiefs dominated the WHL, finishing fourth in the entire league and had four point-per-game players! Finley had the luxury of playing with NHL prospects Adam Beckman and Ty Smith.
Finley is described as a strong two-way player, he plays good defense and offense. An interesting trait that he has is that he is 6’6″. The NHL average is 6’1″. Finley is projected to be, at least a bottom six forward with a ceiling of being a shutdown second-line center. Something the Oilers could use in the future if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins decides to leave or his production falls.
The last player on my list is Tristen Robins. Many hockey experts including me believe that he may be the steal of the entire draft! Robins had a fantastic year playing with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. He put up 73 points in 62 games. The only reason he is projected to go in the third round is because of his size. Robins stands at 5’10” and 174 lbs. Not tiny by NHL standards, but short. If Robins was taller, say 6’2″, he would go in the first round.
Robins is a strong two-way player. He uses his stick very well in the defensive zone, deflecting pucks or stealing the puck off an opponent’s stick. In the offensive end, he is very quick. With or without the puck, Robins is always moving and tiring out defenders when they try and cover him. He has a very good arsenal of shots, from a dangerous snapshot to a lethal wrist shot, he can score on you many different ways. Another good attribute that Robins has is his playmaking ability. He has the ability to control the puck with skating at high speeds and he makes crisp passes to teammates.
In conclusion, I think that each one of these players will make the NHL at some point in their career. They may even be stars! The Oilers will have an intriguing decision in round three when it’s their turn to pick. It’ll be up to Ken Holland to make the final decision and hopefully, it’s the right one. Don’t forget to look out for part four of my draft series!
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