It’s Saturday and the Oilers still have the first-round draft pick, there were times this week when that seemed unlikely. How will this draft roll out, assuming the Oilers stay at No. 14 overall? Here’s how I see it.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What’s in a name? For NHL players, deciding on pronunciation can be a challenge
- New Lowetide: Reconsidering Oilers’ offseason in light of Oscar Klefbom injury news
- New Jonathan Willis: Buyer beware: Trade partners for Oliver Ekman-Larsson have to hope he ages well
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s work week: Get good players, keep good players
- Lowetide: Who will be available if the Oilers pick at No. 14?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ defence prospects are pushing, and changes are coming
- Lowetide: A reasonable trade price for the Oilers to pay in pursuit of OEL
- Jonathan Willis: Could it make sense for the Oilers to trade Oscar Klefbom?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Breaking down my ballot for the 2019-20 NHL awards
- Lowetide: Rising talent, acquiring picks key to Oilers’ success at draft
- Lowetide: European leagues are open, and Oilers prospects are everywhere
- Lowetide: Ken Holland and Dave Tippett’s past players: Can any help the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Roster projections for Oilers, including trade and free agent targets
- Jonathan Willis: Why the Oilers should buy out James Neal
- Lowetide: Oilers approach 2020 draft with increased depth in important positions
- Lowetide: Stock Watch: Hot starts and safe landings for Oilers prospects
- Jonathan Willis: There are no good shortcuts for the Oilers with Jesse Puljujarvi
- Lowetide: Potential trades and partners for the Oilers’ offseason
- Lowetide: The Oilers could find a world-class agitator in the draft
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Should the Oilers select goalie Yaroslav Askarov 14th at the NHL Draft?
- Lowetide: A bold draft strategy for the Oilers in 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers third-line centre search should include other teams’ cap casualties
- Lowetide: Dealing a defenceman? Taking stock of Oilers’ blueline assets
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Oilers GM Ken Holland on improving internally, the flat cap and goaltending
- Jonathan Willis: Can the Oilers find value picks among the 2020 NHL Draft’s impressive Russians?
- Lowetide: 10 free agent targets for the Oilers this offseason
- Lowetide: What if the Oilers went scorched earth in front of 2020 free agency?
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 Prospects, Summer 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Unqualified RFAs could be top offseason targets for the Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Who stays? Who goes? The most likely players to stay with and leave the Oilers
Alexis Lafreniere (No. 1) (who I keep wanting to call Roger) will be the first name off the board at the 2020 draft. New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton is going to have a ridiculous left wing depth chart but this is the best player available. Lafreniere will play behind LW’s Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, meaning his center is likely to be Peter Stemkowski.
The No. 2 overall pick will be interesting. Los Angeles Kings have the pick and director of amateur scouting Mark Yannetti and his staff have a tough choice. LAK have chosen three centers in the first round in the last three seasons (Gabe Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari and Alex Turcotte), but I think they go with winger Tim Stutzle (No. 2) from Germany with the second pick.
Quinton Byfield (No. 3) goes to the Ottawa Senators at No. 3 overall, the team will have 50 centers by the end of the draft but can move 17 to each wing.
The draft gets fun at No. 4 overall, with Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings on the clock. I’ve read they might go goalie, and that left defense will be the target, but I’ll guess DRW take Marco Rossi (No. 4) and his complete skill set.
Ottawa goes back on the clock and takes LHD Jake Sanderson (No. 5) from the US National Development Program. Like Rossi at No. 4, Sanderson has a fairly complete skill set and that tips the balance in his favour.
Anaheim Ducks seem to be on a collision course with Cole Perfetti (No. 6), who is the last of the OHL impact forwards at the top of this year’s draft. He had 111 points last season.
New Jersey Devils likely pick RHD Jamie Drysdale (No. 7). He’s a puck mover, creative defender who combines great speed with creativity. Drysdale and Ty Smith might form a strong pairing in the years to come.
Buffalo Sabres are up next and there’s a sense from some people that the quality dips here. I don’t see it that way, as Alexander Holtz (No. 8) promises to be the natural scorer for Eichel’s line in the future. The only way he’s here is an uneven draft year in the SHL.
Minnesota Wild are under new management and I believe Bill Guerin will want to make a statement with his first pick. Anton Lundell (No. 9) plays a style that should suit Guerin’s template (Red Line calls him a bull in a china shop) while also delivering enough offense to play on the top two lines.
Next up is the Winnipeg Jets, the team that does a splendid job (mostly) at the draft. If the top nine play out this way, expect Kevin Cheveldayoff and his staff to pick RW Jack Quinn (No. 10) at this spot. There are a couple of things about him to note, including being older than most in this year’s draft and the fact he played for a deep and strong OHL team. There’s just too much offense to pass over. Quinn’s the pick here.
Nashville Predators are at a strange spot in the team’s history, kind of halfway between contending and needing some young impact pieces. LC Hendrix Lapierre (No. 11) is healthy and performing at a high level, and the preseason and opening night QMJHL performance have calmed fears about him. I think he’s going to be the surprise of this year’s first round.
Florida Panthers are another team under new management and it sounds like there are changes brewing at Sunrise. LW Lucas Raymond (No. 12) is a great skater, smart player and has skill. He has his detractors but I don’t think he slides beyond the Panthers.
Carolina Hurricanes can go in any number of directions, but the player with the highest ceiling at this point is goaltender Yaroslav Askarov (No. 13). Hurricanes will have to be patient, but then again great goalies often spike around 20.
Edmonton Oilers can go any number of ways here, but I think much of their wishlist has been gobbled up in the five or so picks above. RC Seth Jarvis (No. 11) represents great value here and I think his star has been rising in recent weeks. He would be the first WHL player chosen by Edmonton since Kailer Yamamoto and Stuart Skinner in 2017.
HOLLAND’S WORK WEEK
I’ll be writing about this today (should be up this afternoon) but the Oscar Klefbom news likely altered plans for Ken Holland and his staff. Edmonton has several moves to make this offseason but Holland showed us he is a patient man last summer (Lucic trade, Sheahan signing). Edmonton could pull the trigger on a deal at any time, but the Klefbom complication may have required a reset for the organization.