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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