May 25 2011 07:45AM
According to a Jim Matheson article yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers have completed their scouting meetings with no clear number one. How could this be true?
I don't think the recent performance of Jonathan Huberdeau will impact the Oilers final list. Huberdeau's team is loaded, so their appearance in the final four is no surprise and his impressive offensive totals have been compiled when the other elite talent from this draft are no longer playing. It is perhaps unwise to punish those players for running out of blacktop.
One of the quotes in the Matty article attempts to shed some light on the issue but really just muddies the waters. Matheson suggests that GM Steve Tambellini feels if two players are deemed equal by his scouts, he may make the call based on team need. Here's the muddy: the Oilers team needs perfectly align with the top of the draft:
- #1 Center: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier, Ryan Strome, Jonathan Huberdeau
- Gritty skill winger: Gabriel Landeskog
- Complete defender: Adam Larsson
I think the Oilers might consider trading down to #3 or #4 overall if the return is right. That return might include picks and players with enough appeal to get the Oildrop from #19 overall (the LAK pick) back into the top 10. If the Oilers walk away from the draft's first round with Sean Couturier and Dougie Hamilton, is that worth more than RNH and Mark McNeill?
It might be.
MAGIC 8 BALL
It is generally agreed that the top end of this draft is exactly 8 deep. We discussed it here. I'm not certain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the number one player on the Oilers list, but I think he's the odds-on favorite to end up there. I'd bet even more money that the Oilers scouts discussed a second pick in the top 8: if these eight kids are as good as advertised, collecting a future #1 C and a future top pairing defender would be a major heist.
HOW DO YOU GET THERE FROM HERE?
Columbus would seem to be a likely candidate. They select 8th and are looking to improve enough to make a playoff appearance. Atlanta and Ottawa are also in the range.
I don't know for certain that Steve Tambellini will attempt to move up from 19th to 8th (or better), but it makes a helluva lot of sense.