Edmonton Oilers fans are waiting for a big summer, and I’m sure general manager Ken Holland wants to deliver as much talent to his roster as possible. There’s lots of pressure, but the truth is the best solutions for the McDavid Oilers were on the 2015 draft board waiting for Edmonton to pick them at No. 16, 33, 57, 79 and 86. Edmonton didn’t use those selections, they were dealt for immediate help. How would things have looked if the club used those picks?
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’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: Will the Oilers return to the WHL prospect pool in the 2021 draft?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
- Lowetide: Oilers’ prospect pipeline could be at stake as AHL coach Jay Woodcroft outgrows his minor-league role
- DNB and Dom: How the Oilers should value pending UFAs
- Jonathan Willis: How the Oilers could make a Jack Eichel-level trade happen this offseason
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
- Lowetide: Caleb Jones, Oilers reach crossroads that could land Jones in Seattle
- Lowetide: What will Oilers do if they must replace Oscar Klefbom?
- Jonathan Willis: What comes next for the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi?
- Lowetide: Why Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and more prospects are options for Oilers in 2021-22
- DNB: Ten teams the Oilers should be targeting for trades ahead of the Kraken expansion draft
- Lowetide: How Ken Holland’s transaction history could foreshadow the Oilers summer to come
- Lowetide: How close to NHL-ready is Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations eat dust during Connor McDavid’s dream season
- Jonathan Willis: Why some of the most popular moves Ken Holland could make would be mistakes
- Lowetide: Why huge Oil Kings goalie Sebastian Cossa could be the perfect first-round fit for the Oilers
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers’ plans for the Kraken draft
- DNB: What a perfect offseason could look like for the Edmonton Oilers
- Lowetide: What now for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
THE 2015 DRAFT DO-OVER
In order to be fair about this, you’re going to have to deal with my draft day mock from 2015. Here are the picks I made the day of the 2015 draft:
- No. 1 overall: C Connor McDavid. My guess is he’s at center ice for opening faceoff 2015-16, with Hall and Eberle alongside. Music!
- No. 16 overall: C Joel Eriksson Ek. Impressive C, good offense and a gritty style.
- No. 33 overall: D Travis Dermott. Effective offensive defender, can play defense.
- No. 57 overall: D Ethan Bear. Solid defenseman, built like a brick outhouse, fine shot.
- No. 79 overall: G Matej Tomek. Tomek and Jalad at Tanagra. He’s a good goalie.
- No. 86 overall: C Tyler Soy. Very talented player, spiked in the second half.
- No. 117 overall: D Jeremy Lauzon. Big defender with a range of skills. May be long gone before this.
- No. 124 overall: R Keegan Kolesar. Tough winger with some skill, Oilers looking for this type. He can play.
- No. 154 overall: C Alexandre Goulet. Checking C if he makes it, does a lot well at evens.
- No. 184 overall: C Tyson Baillie. Extreme skill, hard worker, speed only average. Could be a home run pick. Seriously.
From the group, there are six NHL players, compared to four drafted by the Oilers (the scouts were fire, they did a great job). Here’s what the depth chart might have looked like last season with my 2015 draft included:
- Benson—Eriksson Ek—Archibald
My list doesn’t have Caleb Jones, but brings in a No. 3 center and a second-pairing LH blue. That’s actually impressive for one draft, with McDavid at the top and Dermott plus Kolesar in support roles.
Now imagine if Holland had this list of holes to fill over the summer? I imagine Kassian would be ahead of Kolesar, and there are men like James Neal and Kyle Turris who would need to be bought out or incorporated into the roster.
If Holland heads to market focused on four main issues (No. 1 LW, No. 2 LW, No. 2 RHD and No. 1 G) that’s still a massive list but you can see how there might be a better chance for success.
RAGE IN THE CAGE
Oilers fans are smart bunch and can see this is the first summer since 2015 where the general manager can truly wheel. For most of the spring imaginations ran wild, with Taylor Hall, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Getzlaf and Dougie Hamilton in the discussion.
As spring gave way to summer, the names are changing as news filters in. Hall and the Bruins have bonded, Landeskog and the Avalanche have work that remains, Hamilton doesn’t appear to be an Oilers target.
So, fans are checking down to other names, Tomas Tatar, Mike Hoffman, Tyson Barrie and trades are entering the conversation.
At this point, I think we’re looking at a mild free-agent procurement summer, say Mike Smith, Adam Larsson, Tomas Tatar. At this point Nuge not returning appears possible.
This is kind of a sticky wicket summer, partly due to the Seattle Kraken and the massive amount of cap room the expansion club will bring to the league. I’ve done an expansion draft for the Kraken, and there’s some built-in requirements that will force the new team to spend cap dollars (limited number of rfa’s allowed).
I’m beginning to think the play here for Holland is to address some areas while waiting to see how the expansion draft lands. We’re hearing OEL rumours, that represents high risk and low return.
Holland has $25 million in cap. Teams are going to be looking to deal away some useful pieces. I’m seeing names like Mason Appleton, Mathieu Joseph, Alex Kerfoot, Jared McCann, Vince Dunn and others.
Eriksson Ek and Brandon Carlo are long gone, but Holland can sign some bigger names and (more importantly) find some mid-20’s players who will be productive for more than short term.
If Edmonton doesn’t spend a dime on the first day of free agency, you might consider it a blessing. If the top end (Landeskog, Hall, Hamilton) is heading elsewhere, Holland would do well to keep his powder dry for a time. He’ll need to get a LW, RHD and a goalie early, though. Patience on the center, No. 2 LW and No. 2 LHD may be the better plan.