The Edmonton Oilers enter the 2017 draft under unusual circumstances: They will be sitting in the fourth row! The club’s first pick comes at No. 22 and there is no second-round pick this year (yet) so it’s very important to hit the jackpot with the first selection of the weekend.
- Keith Gretzky, Oilers AGM: “Guys you think won’t be there, might be there, and I’ve seen it happen before. Our group is well-prepared, we know who we want to get to know better and we try to get to know them because a trade could happen, you could get another pick or anything could happen. So you’ve got to be prepared.” Source
We can’t know what the Oilers list looks like and in a year like this one the range could be very wide. I posted my Top 150 for the draft and there are all kinds of sources out there to offer opinion. The big difference this season, especially among forwards, is foot speed. There is no dominant player at the top, let alone at No. 22 overall. What about trading No. 22 overall?
POSSIBLE ASSETS OUT
- Jordan Eberle: Dealing Eberle may be difficult. Chiarelli probably already knows the level of asset return and it may not be attractive. Eberle may be an Oiler in the fall. Edmonton is in a tough spot with 14, because trading him helps the cap and brings back a useful asset, while also creating a hole. If the offers don’t reach a certain value, suspect Eberle will be pulled back from the market. There is a chance he plays out his contract (expires 2019 summer).
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: I list him but it’s interesting RNH didn’t make Seravalli’s initial list. We’ll see, but there does seem to be the train of thought suggesting management saw enough from the Nuge to keep him. He has the highest value among possibly available Oilers, suspect the return would be in the Justin Faulk range. Peter Chiarelli traded his most valuable asset (non-McDavid division) for need, I don’t see this being the primary option. Yet.
- Jesse Puljujarvi: This is a damned drastic thought, kind of a last ditch effort and precious gem in case a Chris Pronger deal comes available. If Toronto won’t trade Nylander for that quality blue, maybe Chiarelli steps up and hits a big fly. One of the things we’ll talk about in the RE? Will Puljujarvi play the full season in Edmonton, and if he does get sent down, how does that impact his value?
- No. 22 overall: Maybe this is the one asset that can get a deal done. Would Las Vegas grab one of those Florida defensemen in exchange? Mark Pysyk? Alex Petrovic? It would put the Oilers in a tough spot in terms of drafting, and could set up a complete washout for the procurement department. An active college signing season could replace some of that (two years hence) but Edmonton is so low on prospect forwards this represents a real risk.
- Anton Slepyshev: There are some advantages to where he is in terms of contract. Slepyshev appears to be NHL-ready while also being ineligible for the expansion draft. There’s a narrow little window there and Slepyshev is in that window. Increased value.
- Caleb Jones: I’m not sure how much of a gap there might be between No. 22 overall and Jones, but he is another option. The thing about Jones is that he really does appear to have a fairly complete set of skills. For a team like Las Vegas, a young blue (20) who can settle in at the AHL level and grow his talents will be a very unique item in year one.
- Ethan Bear. As is the case with Jones, Ethan Bear could have a great amount of appeal for the Golden Knights. If (say) Petrovic is chosen (and flipped), GMGM could easily draft another defenseman from an NHL team for the short term, while also acquiring a player just turning pro and ineligible for waivers until fall 2020.
- 2018 first-round selection: Probably going to be No. 21-31 next year, we don’t know what kind of draft we’re looking at next year. I’m not quite sure where to put the value (might have far more value if Oilers stumble) but we’ll say it’s No. 25 overall and put it here.
- Jujhar Khaira: I appear to be the only guy who thinks Khaira has legit value, but I’m going to stay stubborn on it. He is a big, strong player with a nasty streak and he has some offense.
- Griffin Reinhart. I assume he’s going to be chosen in the expansion draft but if he isn’t the Oilers are very likely to keep him around. With Andrej Sekera hurt, a left side depth chart of Oscar Klefbom-Kris Russell-Darnell Nurse-Griffin Reinhart is possible. That said, if PC can use GR to address need suspect he’ll do just that thing. I think we can project Reinhart as a player of interest for Vegas, maybe he goes there in trade.
POULIOT AND FAYNE
- George McPhee on NHL general managers: “Most of the guys have been really forthright in what they want to do, who they’ll probably expose and who they’d like to protect. And we’re trying to find ways to accommodate each other. We won’t be able to do that with everyone.” Source
Maybe Peter Chiarelli will be offering Griffin Reinhart in exchange for LV choosing Benoit Pouliot in the expansion selection. McPhee likes those big WHL defensemen (drafted Jeff Schultz, Mike Green and Karl Alzner high a decade ago) and I bet Reinhart is at least a discussion point between the two general managers.
UNUSUAL DRAFT CLASS
- Central Scouting Director Dan Marr on where the draft gets unpredictable: “I’d say it’s more like five through 25. This draft class did not sort themselves out for the scouts this year. I think a lot of teams are going to be quite pleased because there’s 31 different philosophies going into a draft. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re going to hear somebody say, ‘We got a guy we had ranked in our top 10,’ all the way through the draft.” Source
Despite what was mentioned above (trading No. 22) it’ll be fun to see what happens if Edmonton is still on the clock when that pick comes around. It could be traded (NJD have No. 36 and No. 63) for extra picks or the Oilers could use it.
MOCK DRAFT NO. 10
What if the Oilers list this season is devoted purely to skill forwards? What if, no matter size nor foot speed, Edmonton chose a skill F at every turn? I’m going to use Future Considerations Top 100 as a guide since it’s already out and public.
- First Round: No. 22 overall—RC Robert Thomas, London Knights (OHL). Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: He’s deceptively quick and extremely effective off the rush, where his elusiveness is combined with his vision and creativity. He’s far from a perimeter player who thrives in traffic areas despite not possessing elite size or strength. He especially excels on the powerplay, where his vision and passing ability is put on full display. Just makes great decisions with the puck in the offensive end. The only real criticism is that he needs to shoot more. Source
- Third Round: No. 82 overall (FROM ST. LOUIS—this is payment for Nail Yakupov)—RC Morgan Geekie, Tri-City Americans (WHL). C w/2-way rep and emerging offense. This is his second year of eligibility but his spike offensively (90 points from 25 a year ago). He’s not as dynamic as many I ranked above him (No. 30 on my list) but he really stepped forward this year.
- Third Round: No. 84 overall—LC Evan Barratt, USNDTP (USHL). Small finesse center with skill. He may be a bit of a tweener but is a smart player and has plenty of room to grow. I have him ranked No. 43 overall.
- Fourth Round: No. 115 overall—F Andrey Altybarmakyan, St.Petersburg (MHL). The math is strong on this one. Not much scouting but there is some video.
- Fifth Round: No. 126 overall (FROM Vancouver—this is payment for Phil Larsen)—L Zach Gallant, Peterborough Petes (OHL). Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: One of the toughest defensive forwards in the OHL, in addition to being one of the league’s premier body checkers and faceoff men. He’s no slouch offensively either. Has very good hands in close and he has good vision off the cycle, creating through patience and strength in puck protection. If he can improve his shot and improve his ability to play in transition (carrying/receiving a top speed), he could definitely be a quality 2nd/3rd line player at the next level. And if his offensive game stagnates, you’ve still got a prospect who profiles as a top notch defensive center and penalty killer if he continues to upgrade his skating ability. There’s a lot of current Leaf Leo Komarov in Gallant’s game. Source
- Fifth Round: No. 146 overall—L Jacob Tortora, USNDTP (USHL). He is a burner and he is skilled and he is small.
- Sixth Round: No. 177 overall—C Kevin Hancock, Owen Sound Attack (OHL). Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: His 85 points was the 6th most of any U19 player in the league this year, better than Michael McLeod. Of course, a great deal of Hancock’s success can be attributed to the chemistry that he developed with Nick Suzuki and Jonah Gadjovich, giving Owen Sound one of the league’s best lines. But that shouldn’t take anything away from the progression Hancock showed this year. He’s one of the top two-way forwards in the OHL (was named the 2nd best defensive forward in the Western Conference in the annual Coaches Poll) and brings a lot of versatility to the lineup by being able to play any forward position. Hancock doesn’t possess elite size or skating ability, but his hockey sense is fantastic and allows him to be a factor in all facets of the game. Source
- Seventh Round: No. 208 overall—R Emil Oksanen, Espoo (Mestis). Skilled winger, great shot, he can scoot.
That’s a lot of forwards and some of them are overagers. If the Oilers draft all forwards, and stay on skill, they should be able to identify a couple of keepers.