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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  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    It’s got to be BPA in the first 3-5 positions if not first round.

    Two things to consider:

    1) D take way longer to develop. Drafting D based on immediate need is like buying a rock hard avocado an hour before a guacamole party.

    2) Because of the development path for D it is much more of a crap shoot as to who is going to make it; cf. Plante. you should be more cautious about D in the first round.

  • vetinari

    Assuming that the Oilers end up with the #2 pick overall, I would be tempted to trade back to the #3/#4/#5 pick IF it meant getting a high end roster defenceman that was a RFA or had an affordable two or three years left on his contract, and then I would pick Murray or Dumba. This way, I have an immediate defenceman to plug into the lineup and our future defenceman in the wings.

    We have enough young forwards that we won’t be able to afford long term deals for more than Hall, Eberle, RNH, and Gagner unless they take some level of “hometown discount”, and typically, Russians don’t come over to play second, third or fourth line minutes while taking a “hometown discount”.

  • Zack

    Jonathon, interesting you bring this up but I think the significance of the pick weighs heavily on the position of the draft you are picking. Every draft after the top “X” amount of players had been picked then things can sway between need and BPA. You already know this though, what exactly is your argument here?

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      That was basically my thought, top 4/5 or whatever picks of course you go BPA, once you are into the high teens though, it’s pretty hard to differenciate.

  • Zed

    wtf? Do they not come prepared? Get your scouts together BEFORE the draft, rank ALL the players in the order you would draft them, and then cross off players as they are taken.

    You don’t come to the entry draft and fly by the seat of your pants.

  • Zed

    I had a coupon for a free subway sub once.

    I felt like a pizza sub at the time so that’s what I got. Halfway through the sub I thought,

    “Wow. I could have had a chicken teriaki. It wouldn’t have cost me anything more.”

    I felt pretty stupid for the rest of that lunch hour.

  • Zed

    The way Montreal is playing, it is doubtful we will be drafting in the number two slot. Anybody being drafted in the top 5 should always be a forward. Unless the consenus has a D-man going #1 overall, then it is up for debate. Go back to Beaumeester(spelling) being drafted, he almost fell out of top 5 after it was up for debate if he or Nash was going to go first. The truth of the matter is weather or not you want a franchise player or a potential solid 2-4 dman in a period of 3-5 years. Not really a tough call.

  • Zed

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


    If drafting the team’s current needs is the philosophy these guys preach then they NEED to pick the best player available.

    Keep it simple. Address the team’s needs via different avenues.

  • BaconWrapped

    Since the draft rankings of Nail and Mikhail at midseason there have been reports of Grigerenko’s character and work ethic coming into question. Scouts have also observed that he racks up points against lesser opponents but doesn’t show up against the elite squads in the Q. That poses a major problem since the NHL is tough every night even against the bad teams, as the Oilers showed last night in San Jose and have shown against teams like Chicago, Philly, and Nashville on occasion. After Yakupov a defenceman seems more likely. I know a lot of people like Griffin Reinhart but the Oilers drafted a similar player to him in Klefbom last season. I think Dumba and Murray fill a much needed role as great skating puck movers.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I would rather take a forward and trade for a proven defenseman. 3 or 4 years development won’t help right now and the theme of the oilers seems to be play great against elite teams and lose to the lesser teams. Maybe Gregor will even that out.

  • Zed

    Is there a kind of “auction fever” at draft time that makes draft picks worth more than real players, while at the trade deadline it is the opposite? An arbitrage opportunity, based strictly on the mood of GMs.

    If that is the case, trading a high draft pick would gain you a better player in June, and trading a player in February would gain you a better draft pick than if you did it in June.

    If everything else is equal, the Oilers could trade #2 or #3 for an actual NHL impact D-man in June, more easily than they could make that trade during the season.

    • 24% body fat

      Ive always wondered how Barker went so high with his horrible foot speed and lack of defensive awareness.

      I worry about the same thing as you in regards to defencemen. I am hoping that the Oilers organization can identify whether that number 1 or 2 stud defencemen is in the system already. Can one of Klefbaum, Marincin, Gernat be that guy. Cause if one of those guys is our future 25 minutes a nite stud, then I hope they take the forward. Unfortunately I don`t have faith in Tambo`s judgement, and am worried about this pick.

    • Talbot17

      No pick is guaranteed, Take the best but if you had the option of either Nail or Gregorenko I think I would lean to Gregor because of his size. Being that high in the draft there is a lot higher probability that he will be a good NHL player and Edmonton is constently looking for size.

      This season has showed everyone that we are still weak at center and I don’t see either of horcoff or belanger as a solution. Lander did alright and the other center propects didn’t do so hot in OKC.

    • French Toast Mafia

      So with the oilers last few first rounders being Ebs, PRV, Hall, and RNH, (3 of which are hands down the 3 best players on the team) why are people thinking its a wise idea to trade the pick away? Anyone want to trade one of RNH, Hall, or Ebs? No? Then maybe the best idea isn’t trading away a pick in the top 3. Guys drafted in the top 3 are generally pretty good players… I think it’s a pretty wise idea to draft someone instead of trading