The 2016 draft needed to be a strong one. Edmonton general managers had been trading their picks in the previous two drafts, and it was important to load up with possible solutions to arrive after the expiry of Connor McDavid’s entry deal, when money would be tight. Inexpensive options would be needed and the Oilers cashed 2015’s second and third (plus some picks that had been acquired) and the second and third round picks in 2014. The 2016 draft needed to deliver.
Five years later: The 2016 draft needed to deliver.
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: The Oilers and value contracts. Three now, two later
- Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Zack Kassian could be an important part of the Oilers’ scoring
- Lowetide: Oilers sign Darnell Nurse to a massive 8-year contract extension
- Lowetide: How many goals will Jesse Puljujarvi score for the Oilers next season?
- Lowetide: 8 unsigned free agents who could help the Oilers
- DNB: Rating the Oilers’ offseason
- Lowetide: What are Oilers’ ideal defence pairings for 2021-22?
- Lowetide: The future may come early for three Oilers prospect defencemen
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason, 4.0
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
- Lowetide: Warren Foegele acquisition possible key to improving the Oilers third line
- DNB: Ethan Bear on being traded, his time with the Oilers
- DNB: Ethan Bear out, Cody Ceci in, Tyson Barrie stays
- DNB: ‘Ultimate competitor’ Zach Hyman signs with Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects, summer 2021
- DNB: Oilers draft day notebook
- DNB: Oilers come under the microscope after passing on Jesper Wallstedt
- Jonathan Willis: Zach Hyman, by the numbers
- Lowetide: 5 players outside the NHL who could help the Oilers
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
THE CURRENT STATE OF THE 2016 DRAFT
- No. 4 overall RW Jesse Puljujarvi. Edmonton Oilers winger coming off his best season (15 goals) and one year away from his first significant contract.
- No. 32 overall LW Tyler Benson. Bakersfield Condors winger is waiver eligible this fall, that could be the difference in what looks like a competitive battle for No. 4 LW and extra forwards. Among Devin Shore, Brendan Perlini, Dylan Holloway and Benson, it’s not clear from here who (or how many) makes the club.
- No. 63 LHD Markus Niemelainen. He appeared to be a coin flip for an entry deal, finally signing his on April 30, 2020 (almost four years after he was drafted). Not much was shaking for him until he arrived in Bakersfield for the 2020-21 season. Now his arrows are headed in a good direction and he appears to have a shot at some NHL games. An absolute late-breaking 6.03 defenseman.
- No. 84 LHD Matthew Cairns. He was an unusual choice on draft day, I wondered how many CHL talents were still on the board when he was picked. Answer: Josh Mahura (41 games), Victor Mete (199), Riley Stillman (56), Max Lajoie (62). I don’t think that’s a mortal sin, all of these kids were long shots by pick No. 84, but I do think hanging with CHL draft eligibles as long as possible is wise. Cairns had a nice season at the University of Duluth and is unsigned. Edmonton has until August 15, 2022, he is 6.03, 213 and Holland is collecting big men.
- No. 91 RHD Filip Berglund. Berglund was the most substantial of the third-round picks in 2016, but his slow boat to North America has him arriving late in the game. A big advantage: He’s righthanded. Another advantage: He has played in a very good league for the last several years. A two-way talent who probably spends 2021-22 in Bakersfield, but there’s a clear path to the NHL if he can play.
- No. 123 G Dylan Wells. He posted a .909 save percentage in his first full pro season for the Condors, but in just 12 games and his ECHL totals (.912) were about the same. In 2019-20 when injuries hit the AHL farm club, it was Stuart Skinner who landed the big job in Bakersfield. Wells did sign a contract with Edmonton but was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes in July.
- No. 149 LW Graham McPhee. College winger was undersized and didn’t establish himself as an offensive option while at Boston College. Signed an AHL deal when he turned pro, but is now a free agent.
- No. 153 RC Aapeli Rasanen. He had a similar early trajectory to McPhee, but last season in the Liiga he blossomed. I don’t think they’ll sign him. He’s an interesting player though. RHC, wins faceoff, scored well in the Liiga.
- No. 183 RHD Vincent Desharnais. As crazy as it sounds, I could see him signing an NHL contract. He is a substantial part of the Condors defence, Eric Rodgers estimated his 2020-21 icetime in Bakersfield at 17:45 (fourth on the team among regulars). It has happened before, recently Josh Currie and less recently Mark Arcobello have signed NHL deals after playing under an AHL contract.
50-MAN LIST (4 from 2016’s draft)
There are 42 names, we could see anywhere from one to four men from the 2016 draft play in the NHL this season. In order for the 2016 edition to be a success, I think two men would need to exceed 200 NHL games. Your mileage may vary.
POSSIBLE OPENING NIGHT ROSTER (20)
This 20-man roster sees Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod, Tyler Benson, Kyle Turris, Alex Stalock and William Lagesson starting in the minors. It allows Edmonton to start the season with Oscar Klefbom on the roster, with a little over $500,000 to spare. The team need only begin the season this way, then would be free to place Klefbom on injured reserve and recall four men (likely Bouchard, McLeod, Lagesson and Benson).
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260, we have a pile of great sports stories to follow. At 10:20, Russell S. Baxter from Fansided and several other NFL sites will get us ready for the NFL season with the latest from across the league. We’ll also have a Blue Jays guest, Toronto’s baseball team is moving up the standings. We’ll also talk about the Oilers and value contracts, plus the 2016 draft and how to rate it after five years. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!