Another Top 8 Pick?

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.


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.


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.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    If we really did make a play for Hall AND Seguin at the draft last year, I don’t see why we shouldn’t be aggressive and try and get RNH AND Larsson this year. I think Larsson will slip to #4 or #5, as Colorado may take Landeskog and Florida appears to want a forward (Couturier or Huberdeau?).

    Granted it will be tougher to do because the dance partners are different, but it’s worth a shot. NJ at #4 may want an impact center for Kovy/Parise, although the Islanders may not want to pass on the defenseman. But, they’re the Islanders, so who knows?

    It would probably require us swinging another deal to get in the top 10 to entice someone in the top 5 to trade down.

    Just a thought.

  • Ender


    Fill the cupboard with highly touted prospects so that when we do become competitive we can shed a few youngsters for experience and make a run for the cup.

    You will never win on just draft alone.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Trading down from #1 seems kind of like a pie in the sky scenario. These situations are talked about every year and rarely ever come true. I do think that Columbus is the prime target for trading up into the top 8 and my guess is that Ryan Murphy will be the guy left at that spot. This draft should be very interesting anyways.

  • I’m not sure that insisting your head scout proclaim which player is best equates to running a tight ship.

    If players are roughly equal why insist on differentiating? You’re just forcing it at that point.

    It is perfectly acceptable for your HS to come to you and say players A and B are equally acceptable as the number one pick if there is not enough to separate them.

    • It’s only acceptable if you first accept the silly notion that there can be two players that are equal in every meaningful way as prospects. Only then can it be acceptable. I dont care if he says its close, as long as he still does his job and makes one final recommendation.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    Ok I know I am a dreamer here, but listen to my reasoning and then comment please. Could the Oilers end up with say three first rounders?
    We know Columbus and maybe 1 or 2 other top ten teams are needing to get in the playoffs next season or the g.m.’s jobs might be on the line.
    say a package of Hemsky and Smid and say a third get us in the top ten. then we could end up with say,
    1st RNH
    2nd Hamilton
    3rd Macneil
    I say go for it Steve.
    Hell I have to dream.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I think that rnh plus ganer would be a good 1 2 punch, but it does seem tempting to flip gagner for a top end pick who turns into couturier. This years draft is weaker and the right team might take that shot. A top end scorer with a wide range of skills including defence and faceoffs would be a tremendous asset. Especially with similar player type mps. I would consider taking couturier first overall, but i think that couturiers falling stock might be a helping hand from fate, one which could put us over the top. Get couturier at around fifth at all costs.

  • oilbaron

    ok, im gonna go off the board here and ill take the punishment that i get from all you guys. whoever we pick 1st overall will set the course of the “elite 8” and who goes where.
    i know what our teams needs are and i could see us filling 2 of them in the first round.
    i say we pick adam larsson 1st overall. these types of defenceman dont grow on trees and looking back on how bad we are defensively in own own zone and with the lack of a true 1-2, which i think larsson will be, in our system. i say we need this player.
    i also think that he would still be available in the 3-4 spot,
    i see colorado picking landeskog 2nd, they already have 2 legit #1 and #2 centers in stastny and duchene and they johnson and liles on defence. what they do lack is that gritty winger and landeskog fits that bill perfectly.
    florida needs a center, i would see them picking RNH
    than we have newjersy, i also see them needing a winger. would it be possible trading them hemsky plus #19 for the #4 spot and pick sean coutourier? i could see them thinking about a first line of kovalchuck zajac hemsky. i think were NJ finished was a fluke and that they are still legit eastern conference favorites.
    i think that larsson is the clearcut best defenceman in the draft and that there are allot of really close centres in the top 10. RNH, Coutourier, Huberdeau, Strome, Phillips and Zibanejad are my top ranked centers in the top 10.

    bottom line is take larsson with the first pick we have, no matter if we keep it at #1 or trade down. use what ever asset/assets it takes that doesnt hamper our future along with the #19 pick to move up into the top 10 and pick the next best center available. we still have great prospects at center with the likes of lander, pitlick, martindale and vandevelde.

  • Cervantes

    I would expect that for teams that feel they’re close, Gags + the LA pick is pretty tempting. I don’t think Larsson is a good choice, D men are notoriously hard to predict, take a long time, plus we have a solid D pool that just needs to mature. Building down the middle with RNH and SC is certainly tempting. I don’t think we need more skill wingers, and although Landeskog is tempting, we’re already rocking Jones and Hartikainen, so I don’t know if it’s a desperate need. With Gags moved, Cogs on the wing, and Horcoff, SC, RNH, Lander, and a solid FA pickup like Brooks Laich or Zenon Konokpa, that’s not a bad core to build out from.

    I don’t believe Tambo has the sack to get anything actually done, but it sure is fun to pretend.


    I am typing this as my mom is reading over my shoulder. I like the idea of getting Columbus’s eighth pick. This will give us a chance to get Siemens. Then we will be set for years to come. Since Columbus’s GM is Scott Howson, an ex-oiler, this may provide some flexible negotiations. With Hemsky injured and older (esp on a young team), I would offer Sam Gagner (a tagged second line center) plus our 19th pick and maybe Smid. Gagner will command a significant pay increase sooner than later. As a second line center, I think we can go with Cogs until Lander, Pitlick, Hartikanen (mainly 3 line center) and or Martindale are ready. I like Cogs as of late-never complains, seldom hurt, versatile at center/winger, speed demon and works hard. I guess he is a better skilled – Todd Marchant.


    I’ve noticed a lot of us are hoping for some more grit on the team especially the bottom six forwards. Names like Konopka Hartnell Upshall and Glencross as well as Weber. Personally I would like to see Clutterbuck and Burns in Oil silks. We could definitely use the leading hitter year after year. Some combination of Hemsky Gilbert and Vandervelde (minnesota boys the last two) for the above two and a draft or prospect. Just throwing out some names would be hard to see Hemmer go. Also make attempts at Bieksa and Wisnewski at free agent time.

  • I don’t believe that the scouts never made a recommendation for who to take first overall. Just that it wasn’t unanimous amongst them. Maybe half want RNH some want Larsson and some want Couturier. Majority rules and RNH is our man. Would be nice to get two of the top centers and sign your dmen. Less risk that way I believe.


    No one will ever be able to convince me, regardless of the team’s need, that the first overall pick should be used on a D-man. A 1st overall selection should have the potential for 40 goals or 90 points in their prime. As history has shown us, elite d-men are much easier to find (than elite C) in later rounds or FA. WASH, CHI and PIT always used their first picks on elite scorers – hasn’t turned out too bad for them.

    I say take the consensus #1 (RNH) and build the back end through trades, later picks and FA. Edmonton will never attract an elite C FA – it just ain’t going to happen. Draft for elite offense talents and put the pieces around them.

    And for all the TAMB haters – you can’t say we are worse off than when Lowe was in charge. Our drafting is significantly better in the last two years than the previous 6-7 combined.

    Finally, I hope the Oilers don’t make the playoffs next year. We don’t need a quick fix here. We need to build a team that will be competitive for 10+ years.

  • striker777

    I totally agree with Tambelini’s strategy not to give away his draft strategy. I expect that from a good GM. Having said that, I hope he trades down and takes Couturier.


    A hockey team that has been last place for 2 years running, and will be in a battle to finish dead last again in the upcoming year, whose drafting/scouting has been abysmal for the last 10 + years (with exception to the new scouting staff) who’s organizational depth just started to become better, and with the exception of one magical year has done nothing since Messier left the team 20 years ago, in my own opinion does not give or trade away the 1st overall pick! Should never happen!

    I also agree that no 1st pick should be used on defenseman. Especially a defenseman that is ranked to be a top 2nd paring defenseman who has never played in North America! It’s asinine. I also think if the team does not know who should be taken 1st overall at this point then the organization is in trouble, whether that player is BPA or the NEED of the team, they know who that player is already.

    I also believe that moving up in the top five in the draft will take a S**T load more then L.A 19th pick and a legit roster player, and that player wont be Smid or Cogliano, sorry but other GM’s don’t want our average players, they may start listening at Hemsky, Gagner, a 2nd rounder plus a prospect and cap space. However the conversation most likely would include the names Eberle and MPS if you’re the opposing GM. That is way too much to give up for a prospect.

    However, I am an optimist and all for the team moving up to grab two top two picks if ST can swindle another GM. RNH and Landenskog would be great additions to the team and add that finesse and grit.

  • People. It doesnt matter what happens after the draft, but it is ludicrous to think that Stu wont make a decision before it.

    If he picks the wrong guy it’s on him, but he still needs to pick someone.

    OB1 the answers follow as such: Kovalchuk 170 more points almost all of them goals, Staal at or near a point per game since his sophomore year and Fleury’s SV% has bobbled between good and average his whole career, Johnson because Staal has about as much offense in his game as Gagner, Tav vs Duch hasnt been on long enough (that’s by far the closest race though), Stamkos has the hardware, Ovechkin by a mile.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Well it seems everyone else…. including the team seems to be able to accept that their can be prospects that are “too close to call”.

      So I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  • Edmonton should draft RNH AND Couturier.

    Next year is the year of the defensemen.

    Even if RNH is an 80 point guy Edmonton still needs a big, skilled shutdown guy that can win draws and that isn’t Gagner or Horcoff.

    Save for Hall, Eberle and MPS I would move the entire team to secure Couturier with our 2nd pick.

    You get those top 2 centers and they are going to make everyone on the team better – elite centers make their wingers better -and if if the coach has two impact C’s then it gives the coach tons of options with his 3rd and 4th lines.

    Does Gagner + Hemsky + Smid + 19 + 31 get you Couturier?

    Might be an overpayment but Edmonton would be set for the next 10 years down the middle and that’s the hardest position to fill.

    Plus if Edmonton has two impact C’s + Hall and Eberle its going to be dramatically easier to bring in UFA’s.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      You should check out the success rate of pulling “impact players” with picks in the 4-10 range.

      You should also check out how many elite centers are actually making their wingers better.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          So we are going to go way off board to draft him at #2?

          Want to hear something interesting Brad? Chris Kunitz PPG numbers actually went up when Crosby went down.

          I can provide piles of proof that impact centers have little to no impact on others stats, What proof can you provide to the contrary?

          • SLURVE

            All you’ve proven is that don’t know much about hockey.

            Centers are tacticians. They control the entire game.

            Without good ones it has a negative effect on the entire team.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Go ahead Brad, click on and see what the wingers playing with the best player in the world have done…. it isn’t that impressive.

            Crosby was putting up one of the highest PPG’s in years before he got hurt…. if there was ever going to be a time that some boosted someone elses numbers this would have been that year and Crosby would have been the guy.

            Guess what? His primary winger put up better numbers without him.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    According to OB1’s “logic”, Taylor Hall’s performance would be identical if he was playing with Colin Fraser or Sidney Crosby.


    • The problem is that Sidney Crosby’s wingers generally perform the same with or without him in the lineup. So, it’s actually hard to suggest that Hall will do better with Crosby because playing with Crosby hasnt boosted the numbers for players like Kunitz.

      I tried arguing with it once, but it just doesnt seem to make a big difference on the wingers.

      That said I still think that depth at C is the key to winning.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Within reason Brad. Going from playing with the best player in the league to one of the worst would probably have an impact on a guys numbers.

      However I think a Hall could play with Crosby or Getzlaf or Stastny or Wiess or even Horcoff or Gagner and still put up roughly the same numbers.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I am coming very late to this conversation and I have been too lazy to read everybody’s well thought analysis. If it has not been suggested, why doesn’t some writer buy a couple scouts a beer and ask off the record how much to trade for two picks in the top 8. Then we can all make an informed decision on who we are trading.