For the first time in the past few seasons, the NHL entry draft class really seems to lack the presence of one or two players who have seemingly separated themselves from the rest of their peers.
While the 2014 draft class may not have a consensus No.1 overall candidate, there is plenty of room for debate as to who a team such as the Edmonton Oilers should target on draft day.
The Oilers are currently 28th in the NHL and will almost certainly once again be in lottery contention, and assuming that the Oilers do not move their pick in any deal between now and the draft, the team could very well end up with a top-five pick.
Here are five prospects that the Edmonton Oilers should have its eye on in the 2014 draft class.
Sam Reinhart of the Kootney Ice in the WHL is considered by some to be the player selected with the first overall selection in the 2014 entry draft.
While the Oilers may not have as good of a chance to select first overall this season (if it can be considered good to continually receive the top pick), they could very well still end up in a lottery position and may consider drafting Reinhart.
Reinhart is a gifted offensive player who has the potential to be a dynamic scoring threat at the next level.
The Oilers do not necessarily need another gifted offensive player, with players like Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov already on the roster, so Reinhart may not be the right fit for the club.
However, if the team does move one of these young forwards, Reinhart could be an excellent replacement.
At 6’5” and 216 lbs, Aaron Ekblad is exactly the type of defensive prospect that the Edmonton Oilers need.
While defensemen often take a bit more time to develop into NHL stars, Ekblad is the type of player who could develop into a rock for the Oilers blue line.
Though the Oilers have players like Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse already in the system, Edmonton is in desperate need for a top-two defenseman, and Ekblad could very well be that guy.
Ekblad possesses high hockey intelligence, and his ability to see the game coupled with superior positioning should make the Barrie Colts standout an offensive threat as well as a shutdown type defender.
Leon Draisaitl is a big, skilled forward who can play either left wing or center, and he would be an excellent addition to the Oiler lineup.
With 51 points in 31 games for the Raiders, Draisaitl has demonstrated his goal scoring ability already and will factor as a player to watch in the upcoming World Junior tournament over the Christmas break.
His skating ability still has room to improve, but Draisaitl is the type of forward who is hard to deter off the puck and impose himself on opponents.
Goal-scoring power forwards are a coveted commodity in the NHL, and Draisaitl would be a player to help make the Oilers a harder team to play against.
Like Leon Draisaitl, Michael Dal Colle has the size and ability to be the type of difference maker the Oilers currently lack on their team.
Dal Colle is an above average skater, who utilizes his size to be able to play in the harder areas of the ice, being more than comfortable in front of the net and along the boards.
The Oilers need more players with tenacity without sacrificing offensive talent, and with 56 points in 35 games with the Generals this season, Dal Colle has proven that he has the ability to be an offensive difference maker.
At 6’3” and 207 lbs, Haydn Fleury has demonstrated all of the qualities to become a top-pairing NHL defenseman one day.
A big, physical defender, Fleury has also added a bit of offensive production to his game and has contributed 22 points in 33 games played for the Rebels this season.
The Oilers need defenders who can play a ton of minutes against opponents top players, and thanks to his blend of talents, Fleury could very well be a candidate for the Oilers on draft day.