I write this every year although it’s tough to project with new management. When we are two or three years in with a general manager/scouting director the lay of the land will be more clear. Oilers fans haven’t had a chance to observe and witness the Ken Holland-Tyler Wright tandem yet, so the experience begins with the 2020 draft. What do the Oilers need? There are cracks and holes, but the key of course is to find NHL players.
Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. I am proud to be part of The Athletic. Here are the most recent Oilers stories.
- New Lowetide: Tyler Benson’s struggle to score might affect future role with Oilers
- New Lowetide: Ken Holland’s second Oilers draft should deliver high-octane offence
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘It’s all surreal’: Kevin Lowe’s Hall of Fame nod nets surprise and satisfaction
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Thomas Drance: Vancouver vs. Edmonton: How do Western Canada’s NHL hub city bids stack up?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: I nominated Kevin Lowe for The Athletic’s mock Hockey Hall of Fame — and he fell way short
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- Lowetide: Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones and the Oilers’ need for veteran insurance
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Why the Oilers should protect these 8 skaters in the Seattle expansion draft
- Jonathan Willis: Why Carl Soderberg is an intriguing free agent possibility for the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers prospect Raphael Lavoie’s possible impact in his first year pro
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The good, bad and ugly of the Oilers’ last 15 years of free agent signings
- Lowetide: Why you should be worried about William Lagesson’s future in Edmonton
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Remembering the goal that made Fernando Pisani a cult hero in Edmonton
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ 2016 draft remains an enigma, with a glimmer of hope
- Jonathan Willis: The parallels from the fall of Alexander the Great and the 2006 Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Connor McDavid’s recovery is just one of 2020’s incredible Masterton stories
- Lowetide: Every prospect in the Oilers system and what’s next for each player
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Projecting the Oilers’ black aces and how much they’ll play
- Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ lineup for their play-in series versus the Blackhawks
RIGHT DEFENSE. 8 PICKS IN THE DECADE
Since 2015, Edmonton drafted Ethan Bear, John Marino and Evan Bouchard who have appeared in NHL games. The importance of a RH defenseman became more commonplace during the decade, Oilers got on board in a timely fashion. The signing of Matt Benning and procurement of Adam Larsson set up a solid depth chart. Mike Green was added at the deadline, he may return. Logan Day is in Bakersfield and has talent, but is rfa this summer and looking at a tough climb.
Currently matriculating are Filip Berglund, Phil Kemp and Michael Kesselring. Oilers current depth chart is Larsson-Bear-Benning with Green injured. I don’t think we’ll see a Bakersfield addition to this group.
Possible Selections: Michael Benning is Matt’s brother and offers good speed and passing ability. William Villeneuve and Alex Cotton are two mid-round options, but Benning would be my choice as most likely.
GOALIES. 10 PICKS IN THE DECADE
Mikko Koskinen is either No. 1 or No. 1A and the second option is likely to come from free agency. Edmonton’s pro depth chart shouldn’t require re-signing Shane Starrett but the team may decide to do it anyway.
The last time Edmonton chose a goalie in the first round was Devan Dubnyk in 2004. The last three goalies chosen (Stuart Skinner, Olivier Rodrigue, Ilya Konovalov) are edging close to Jeff Deslauriers territory (he was the first pick of the second round, 2002) and one of them could cash.
Holland didn’t spend draft riches on goalies but his staff did find Jimmy Howard in the second round and Peter Mrazek in the fifth round. Keith Petruzelli is also posting fine college numbers although I don’t know much about him.
Possible Selections: There’s a chance Edmonton picks Yaroslav Askarov if he’s on the board in the first round. I like Calle Clang based on his numbers and quality of league, but he may go in the top 100. Perhaps Holland uses the Neal pick if it still belongs to northern Alberta.
RIGHT WING. 10 PICKS IN THE DECADE
We now reach the Bermuda triangle of Oilers drafting in the 2010’s. The Oilers have spent more draft capital and received less in actual production than any other position. From Tobias Rieder to Nail Yakupov to Jesse Puljujarvi, when the decade ended right wing knew it wasn’t getting a dime of its damage deposit back.
Kailer Yamamoto was chosen in 2017, he may change the team’s fortunes in this area. RW depth chart at this time is approximately Zack Kassian, Yamamoto, Josh Archibald and Alex Chiasson. Raphael Lavoie, who can also play center, along with Kirill Maksimov and Ostap Safin are pushing.
Possible Solutions: I think the draft could see Holland draft heavily around this position (he picked three C’s a year ago). Dawson Mercer, Mavrik Bourque, Noel Gunler and Jacob Perreault are all possibles, with the possibility of at least one name in this group being available very high. There’s a bunch of interesting names later on, including Ozzy Wiesblatt and Luke Evangelista.
LEFT WING. 14 PICKS ON THE DECADE
The Oilers haven’t chosen a LW in the first round since Taylor Hall, and the portsiders taken since then (Curtis Hamilton, Mitch Moroz, Anton Slepyshev, Tyler Benson) are either matriculating toward the NHL or down the road. Oilers shouldn’t have traded Taylor Hall, or Drake Caggiula for that matter.
Current depth chart has natural center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the top option, followed by Andreas Athanasiou, James Neal and Jujhar Khaira. Tyler Ennis was a deadline pickup who could be retained. Tyler Benson is the most promising among the group pushing for NHL employment. The acquisition of AA and moving Nuge to LW have turned the position into a possible strength.
Possible Solutions: Rodion Amirov, Dylan Holloway, Ridly Greig could be first-round options.
CENTER. 17 PICKS IN THE DECADE
The marquee position for the Oilers over the past 10 drafts, peaking in 2014 (Leon Draisaitl) and 2015 (Connor McDavid). It’s a tricky position, because centers can play wing but I count them as pivots if that’s their position on draft day. No harm in regard to Leon or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but Tyler Pitlick (as an example) didn’t spend five minutes at the position during his NHL career.
The current depth chart is akin to writing credits for the Rolling Stones, as in miles and miles of Jagger-Richards and not much Taylor, Jones, Wood, Wyman or Watts. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl represent the highest peak in the NHL, no question. Riley Sheahan, Gaetan Haas and Jujhar Khaira are all adequate plus as No. 4 centers but the team badly needs a No. 3 option.
That could arrive sooner than later in the person of Ryan McLeod. He already has NHL speed and I was impressed with how much even-strength offense he managed in a downbeat season for the Bakersfield Condors. Other possibles include Raphael Lavoie (although I think he’ll be a RW) and Maxim Denezhkin, who is the most intriguing prospect in the system.
There are many centers who would be a great fit in this year’s draft. Among them are Seth Jarvis, Mavrik Bourque, Connor Zary, Dylan Holloway, and later Jack Finley, Jakub Konecny.
LEFT DEFENSE. 17 PICKS IN THE DECADE
This position wins the ‘most likely to be chosen annually’ award, as the Oilers missed taking a lefty just once (2018) during the entire decade. Edmonton managers have invested high picks on the position too, procuring Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Philip Broberg. Value picks for this position include Brandon Davidson, Erik Gustafsson and Caleb Jones.
The current depth chart is the strongest in the organization, with an excess at both the NHL and AHL levels. The pro depth chart at this time is Oscar Klefbom-Darnell Nurse-Jones-Kris Russell-William Lagesson-Theodor Lennstrom-Dmitri Samorukov-Markus Niemelainen. The bubbling under crew is led by Broberg and also includes Matt Cairns.
I could see the Oilers spending the first rounder on a blue, although it seems unlikely given the nature of the depth chart. My guess is the team would be interested in Jake Sanderson, Kaiden Guhle, Ryan O’Rourke, William Wallinder. Later on, Joni Jurmo, Eemil Vero, Ethan Edwards and Ben Meehan are interesting.
MY IDEAL LIST
Draft day 2007 I wrote the following on this blog.
Today is a terrific day. The NHL draft. Jim Matheson says the Oilers have targeted Sam Gagner and that’s alright with me. I’d be a little disappointed with Karl Alzner (I suspect Prendergast likes him most of all, he’s been positively silly in his comments) and very disappointed if they dealt the pick at #6.
I’m also hearing Shawn Horcoff trade rumors which is also silly unless someone capable of doing the heavy lifting at center is coming in return. Jarret Stoll, Marc Pouliot, Marty Reasoner, Rob Schremp and Andrew Cogliano is a nice list of careers rolling out, but Stoll’s concussion, Reasoner looking done and the inexperience of the others says Horcoff shouldn’t be going anywhere.
My ideal day would see Lowe pick Voracek or Gagner at #6, grab David Perron or Ryan McDonagh at #15 and then deal the pick at 30 with Matt Greene for a veteran blueliner.
So, for this draft, with much uncertainty, I will say that my ideal draft sees Edmonton choose Seth Jarvis or Mavrik Bourque in the first round, trade for a second and pick Helge Grans or Vasili Ponomaryov and then select Pavel Gogolev in later rounds.