Will The Oilers Take The Best Player Available At The Draft This Summer?

While virtually every club around espouses “best player available” as their draft strategy, there’s no doubt that the Oilers pay attention to the position played by the guys they’re drafting. If there was any doubt of that, the last episode of Oil Change should have removed it.

First, there was this exchange on the draft floor at the Oilers’ table before the Oilers made the 19th overall pick in 2011:

Tambellini: “More offense on [Oscar] Klefbom?”

MacGregor: “Pelly likes Klefbom better, Robert thinks they’re really even.”

[Unclear]: “We want a ‘D’”

MacGregor: “Yeah, you know, those three guys are all very close. We had him ranked higher anyhow, so he’s the guy to go with.”

Which three players were the Oilers looking at? We can’t know for certain, but the next four defensemen taken were Connor Murphy, Joe Morrow, Stuart Percy, and David Musil.

Speaking of Musil, here’s what was said before the Oilers drafted him in the second round:

MacGregor: “31. If we don’t take one of those D’s, the guys you’ll be looking at, they’ll likely go.”

Bob Brown: “I thought we had enough forwards, and you never have enough defense. I’ve always said David [Musil]’s going to play. He might be one of the smartest guys on the back end.”

Unidentified scout: “He’s kind of the whole package in a defenseman that’s gonna be an anchor for a while.”

Unidentified scout: “I think that they will force him to [inaudible] that and I do think it’s an issue.”

Kent Hawley: “Total opposite. I think his feetwork will improve; his positioning, his gap, and his stick and his hockey sense, I just don’t see it being a concern.”

MacGregor: “[Oilers skating and skills coach Steve] Serdachny says his skating can get better.”

Tambellini: “So, you agree with character?”

Brown: “Character, leadership.”

MacGregor: “We may need to take defensemen, but… it’s very close. Very, very close. Good discussion.”

Again, we can’t know which forward might have been in the discussion, but we do know that St. Louis drafted Ty Rattie (63GP – 53G – 57A – 110PTS in the WHL this season) with the next pick.

Those discussions are interesting given the choice the Oilers have to make at the Entry Draft this summer. As it stands, they’re likely to finish with the second overall draft pick, and the top two prospects on most publicly available lists are Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko. The two likely best defensemen – Ryan Murray and Matt Dumba – are a little further down, more in the third-to-fifth range.

We don’t know who the Oilers are going to pick, or even where they’re going to select, but we can guess that the positional needs of the organization are going to be discussed.

(Photo above a screenshot from Oil Change.)

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  • RexLibris

    I don’t think Dumba is a reasonable risk at any pick before 4. He is an injury risk at the NHL level in my opinion based on his size and style. He could be the best D available if blessed with some luck and able to play he next few seasons (prime developmental years) and optimal conditions for his development. He reminds me a bit of Ryan Ellis.

    I like the look of Griffin Reinhart ahead of Dumba right now. I think the long term projections on him look better too. He may not provide the same offense but he might surprise.

    I think Ryan Murray is the safest pick. He will be no worse than an NHL regular imo and maybe the best D available.

    Morgan Rielly is a HUGE wildcard, possibly providing the most offense of any D in the draft but his injury this season has limited the ability to judge how things are developing for him or how much they might going forward. Similar situation for Galchenyuk up front, another possible stud.

    Yakupov ahead of all. Grigorenko behind all above options in all likelihood, maybe ahead of Galchenyuk.

    Forsberg in this conversation? He might be.

  • RexLibris

    The white noise we are getting about Gregorenko is from “scouts”

    You only have to watch “oil change” to realize that this is a mixed group with diverse opinions.

    On of the knocks on the Russian is he got a lot of points against weak teams.Doh! That’s who big scorers feast on .His game by game scoring was getting points against every team until he was injured at WJC.

    To my eyes at WJC he was strong

    I assume the Oil will go on their own scouts rather than some unnamed other team scout.Unless the rumor was started by the Oil so they can prepare us for The selection of Murray.

    Klefbom is only two months older than Murray yet it is said he is maybe two or three years away.At WJC Klefbom was an all star on the winner.Murray had a so so WJC particularly when it counted.

    If they select Murray be prepared for at least a three year wait for him to contribute.

  • RexLibris

    Best player available always. You can’t know what your need will be down the road when you are contending. Could be defense. Unless Petry, Musil, Klefbom and Marincin all pan out. If that happens and you passed on a centre with Grigerenko’s upside you’ll look like a management team incapable of big picture thinking.

  • I want to see the reports where people say Grigorenko has issues or questions about motivation or character!! Show me the link and the scout who said it!! I will show you the exact opposite!

    Do you not think that some scouts out there put out the bad word about a kid in hopes that a team hear’s that and passes on the kid? I would say absolutely.

    At any rate I tend to get as much information on a player as possible before I spit out conjecture and rumors.

    http://www.thescoutingreport.org/european-flavour-headlines-2012-qmjhl-crop/

    http://www.thescoutingreport.org/2012-nhl-midterm-top-60-rankings-130/

    http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/story/?id=380587

    http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=58415

    http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/

    http://www.thejuniorhockeynews.com/Grigorenko%20learning%20from%20Roy%27s%20tutelage.html

    http://www.yourcanadiens.info/2012/02/why-tanked-season-will-be-worth-it.html

    The Canadiens want this player bad!

    On top of that I tend to agree with the other post’s about Galchenyuk! i would take him before I even considered a D man

    Just for the record Grigorenko was playing on one foot during the WJC and was still one of the best players. but I guess he has no heart.

  • Sox and Oil

    I like the idea of Washington as a trade partner… especially if we can win the draft lottery.

    OV would love another Russian to play with, Wash has 2 firsts, plenty of good young dmen – alzner, carlson.. or if we can get Holtby somehow that would be perfect.

    A total pipedream but thats whats fun about the interwebs.

  • Sox and Oil

    I for one am not worried at all about this pick. The way I see it Tambi is playing with house money right now.

    The rise of Eberle has now given us potentially three franchise players to build around. I am far more concerned with who Tambellini picks up at free agency than I am about some young guy picked up at the draft.

    • Sox and Oil

      He is not picking anybody of importance in free agency. He has said that all along, we need to develop from within because the cost of a first class free agent coming to Edmonton is way to expensive (as history has proven).

      That is his plan like it or not. If nothing else he has been very consistent with this.

      Pick the “D-man”, if he is not turning out then move him with one of the many addons we have and a draft pick for your stud D-man.

      • He has been consistent with that until now, but that may have more to do with the stage they were in the rebuild.

        I’dbe surprised if the Oilers wouldn’t sign Suter this summer if they could get him inked at a somewhat reasonable price and term, whatever they consider that to be.

  • Sox and Oil

    I don’t really agree with the consensus that D is the area of need for the Oilers at the draft.

    The D may be more in need of help on the current team, but that doesn’t mean that the prospect area of need is D. Different people might rank the Oilers prospects differently, but when you look at the prospect pool, coulddn’t it be argued that the D prospects, as a group, are looking better than the F prospects?

    • RexLibris

      I couldn’t agree more.

      Taking into account that this team is in a stated process of rebuilding, a look at the depth chart of prospects reveals quite quickly, in my opinion, that the greatest area of need is at the wing and center.

      When the Hemsky-to-Detroit talk was going I was hoping they would target either Tomas Jurco or Tomas Tatar as part of the return to help bolster our forward prospects.

      This draft is deep in defencemen, but out of the Oilers first two picks I wouldn’t take a d-man until the 3rd round where I’d be happy if they could walk away with Cody Corbett.

      The only reason I can see to take a defenceman in this year’s draft is if they select Griffin Reinhart in the late 10s, if only to keep him away from the Flames and break their fans’ hearts.

      • RexLibris

        “The only reason I can see to take a defenceman in this year’s draft is if they select Griffin Reinhart in the late 10s, if only to keep him away from the Flames and break their fans’ hearts”

        You make my day with that positive attitude!

  • Chris.

    Drafting the BPA is always the best policy assuming your GM has the stones to make trades, or the ability to round out the roster via free agency. How many pure hockey deals do we see anymore?