Every draft is different, has its own personality. This edition appears to be similar to 2012 (no clear No. 1 overall) and 2002 (not terribly deep but gems throughout). The Oilers stand a chance of getting a terrific player at No. 3 overall and then a few lottery picks later on. So far this spring, we’ve been acting as though the draft will pluck Aaron Ekblad and one of Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett, leaving Edmonton with two C’s and the likely choice (Leon Draisaitl).
POSSIBLE TOP OF THE DRAFT
- Florida Panthers: D Aaron Ekblad, Barrie Colts (OHL)
- Buffalo Sabres: C Leon Draisaitl, Prince Albert (WHL)
What then? Do the Oilers take Reinhart, a player similar to the Nuge, or Bennett, who I have ranked No. 1 but may be available at No. 3. If it were me, I’d take Bennett, but honestly Reinhart looks fine too. Either way, I’m in. However, there may be forces at work that we’re unaware of, like an offer from the New York Islanders or Toronto Maple Leafs. The Islanders may feel getting Sam Reinhart to go with Griffin Reinhart will give them a matching set, a solid foundation for the future. Toronto may be interested in acquiring their franchise center, and they may feel that is Sam Bennett.
Meaning the Oilers would be looking to trade down.
WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
The Leafs matches are all over the place:
- No. 8 overall
- D Dion Phaneuf
- L David Clarkson
- D Jake Gardiner
MacT has been hinting like mad about being able to take on a big, lumpy contract and Clarkson is exhibit “A”. Woodguy posted last night “Clarkson and Phaneuf for Gagner and Klefbom” so let’s throw No. 3 for No 8 in there and make it one giant megadeal.
The Islanders matches are more subtle:
- No. 5 overall
- C Josh Bailey
That’s all I can see from here. So, let’s say “Nail Yakupov and Sam Gagner for No. 5 overall and Josh Bailey” and see if anyone thinks its a good idea. No? Okay. I’m not sold on the deal either, but something tells me there are things like this in play. Philadelphia, often mentioned as a possible trade partner, is too far down the draft order to be a really good match. The Islanders are perfect if the Oilers draft list (I’d guess it is Ekblad, Draisaitl, Reinhart, Bennett, Dal Colle) has five men in that first cluster. I don’t see Edmonton trading with Calgary or Vancouver, so NY Islanders and Toronto make the most sense. Possible trade down targets would be Dal Colle, Nick Ritchie and Jake Virtanen.
OTHER MACT GEMS
I’m riffing off headlines dug up by Matt Henderson at Hockeybuzz. He’s a smart guy with great takes, and so please zip over there and have a read. I’m basically lifting his headlines, so it’s only fair to give him the click-through.
- The Oilers will be chasing after some of the “High End Guys” in Free Agency.
I find this a little scary, because free agency is a risky bet. Edmonton has the do-re-mi, but they can’t afford to commit big money long term to epic fails. The Andrew Ference contract already has them paying more than full price for a third pairing guy, they don’t need to make additional investments like it. MacT has suggested the puck-moving defender is likely to come in trade, so I’d suggest the UFA targets might include Tomas Vanek, David Legwand, Ryan Callahan, Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, David Moss, Daniel Winnik and Lee Stempniak. I’m not suggesting all are good options, but Edmonton might have interest in these men.
Among defensemen, Andrei Markov, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Willie Mitchell, Stephane Robidas, Matt Greene, Ron Hainsey, Nikita Nikitin, Tom Gilbert, Anton Stralman, Derek Engelland, Mark Fayne and Brett Bellemore may be of interest.
- The Oilers have Cap space and are willing to use that as an asset.
All I can see now is David Clarkson when reading this, that damn Woodguy texted me last night with his thoughts on the use of cap space. As mentioned above, the trade has some appeal on both ends, but Edmonton would be adding two veteran players coming off subpar seasons. Kind of a tough sell to the masses, and doesn’t address center. Still, it does give them a monster defenseman and a big man who has played with skill in the past.
- He likes the Primary Offensive weapons but wants to add secondary players.
I agree with Henderson’s take. Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Perron, Yakupov, maybe even Gagner if MacT’s unicorn three scoring lines dream comes true. I will say that 89 at $4.8M looks a lot better if he’s scoring on your power play. The one thing about the GM’s comments yesterday is that it does create a scenario where Gagner stays with the club next season.
- The Oilers are not in a position to trade assets for Draft choices.
No complaints from this quarter. Oilers lack 2nd and 3rd round picks because of David Perron and Ben Scrivens trades, and that’s something Edmonton should do every year. Adding a sure NHL player for a distant bell that may never ring is just good business. MacT is also framing the issue a little, if Edmonton really wants a pick 31-90 this season, they have next year’s picks plus that Ottawa selection for 2015 acquired in the Hemsky deal. There’s room to move, should they choose.
- The 3rd Overall Pick is highly sought after.
No doubt, and I do think Edmonton would trade down (not out) if they can address defense or center. If that option comes available, then the Oilers might be willing to move down—especially if Ekblad and Draisaitl are gone.
Reports everywhere that MacT has been in Montreal for a few days. Of course he could be there on a family vacation, visiting friends, buying poutine or visiting the Victoriaville plant. I’m not into polls, but would guess Oiler fans would click “there to finalize PK Subban deal” one trillion times. We wish.
TSN 1260, 10 this morning. We’ll talk a variety of subjects with guests Kirk Luedeke (2014 draft), Dustin Schwartz (goaltending, Oil Kings), Michael Parkatti (Darnell Nurse, MacT’s verbal, 2014 draft) and Travis Yost (dummies in Ottawa, hockey division, 2014 draft).
10-1260 for the texts, @Lowetide_ on twitter. See you on the radio!