Craig MacTavish: Making not so bold moves?

Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish was busy early at the 2013 NHL Draft, but the moves were less bold than many may have hoped for. Second round picks, as promised, were the currency of choice but rather than shoring up the Oilers in the short-term Mactavish opted to re-stock the team’s supply of draft picks, which had been depleted entering the draft.

MacTavish pulled off a pair of trades, and while he failed to add NHL-ready talent to the Oilers he did manage to turn one second round draft pick into five selections in the two moves:

  • Edmonton traded their 37th overall pick to Los Angeles for the 57th, 88th and 96th picks
  • Edmonton then traded the 57th pick to St. Louis for the 83rd, 94th and 113th picks

All told, MacTavish sacrificed an early second round pick for selections at 83rd, 88th, 94th, 96th and 113th overall. Los Angeles picked Valentin Zykov; the Oilers instead took flyers on five different players:

  • Bogdan Yakimov: A 6’5" Russian centre with real potential but footspeed issues
  • Anton Slepyshev: A high-scoring Russian who was controversially passed over by everyone in 2012
  • Jackson Houck: A character player who led a weak Vancouver Giants team in scoring
  • Kyle Platzer: A defensive specialist buried on a strong London team
  • Aidan Muir: A 6’4" power forward playing midget hockey 

The two trades do a pair of important things for the Oilers.

Firstly, Edmonton re-stocked what was a rather barren cupboard of picks. Thanks to trades with Dallas for Mark Fistric and Florida for Jerred Smithson, the Oilers didn’t have a third or fourth round draft pick and without making trades would have come away with only six players; instead they sacrifice quality in Zykov in exchange for quantity. Given the boom-or-bust nature of the draft, it’s understandable why the team would want as many choices as possible.

Secondly, all five players chosen with those picks are forwards. The Oilers have a pretty decent set of prospects on defence, but up front the development pipeline is getting pretty empty. This gives the team an opportunity to load up on players who can potentially play roles up front for Oklahoma and, in a few years, perhaps for Edmonton. It’s obvious this was a position of need for the Oilers, and they’ve done their best to address it – with picks still to come, seven of their first eight selections (and all five acquired via trade) have been forwards, with first round pick Darnell Nurse the only exception.

For Oilers fans, it would have been nice to see the team improve in the short-term by adding NHL players, and the rumours of the team pursuing Cory Schneider and Braydon Coburn and Cal Clutterbuck and others won’t move the dial forward on the team one inch. But it’s also easy to see why Craig MacTavish made the choices he did, and his work on draft day did help address positions of organizational weakness.

Much more, however, will need to happen in the coming week or two.

Recently around the Nation Network

The big news of the day came, not from Edmonton, but rather from Vancouver, as their ongoing goaltending saga finally saw a significant shift. The Canucks opted to hang their hopes on the untradable Roberto Luongo, instead sending presumptive starter Cory Schneider to New Jersey in exchange for the ninth overall pick (which was used on centre Bo Horvat). At Canucks Army, Thomas Drance says he has conflicting thoughts on the process:

I’ll admit that I’m of two minds about the deal that sent Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils straight up for the pick that became Bo Horvat. On the one hand, a top-ten pick in a deep draft is a solid return for an unproven starter. On the other, this was handled embarrassingly by the Canucks organization, the clubs overall indecision on this front is not a good look, and it ultimately worked out poorly for the club.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    On this team Clutterbuck > Paarajvi. I can’t even believe we are discussing this.

    On this team Schneider > Nurse + Yamikov. I can’t believe we are discussing this.

    On this team the tsn monkey > management. This is open for discussion.

  • Shaun Doe

    I think the big positive I can take from this draft is the evidence of attempted trades. Despite having nothing to show for his leg work, at least we can read about Mac-T doing some running. In previous years Tambi may as well have just stayed home on draft day. So it is encouraging to say that at least he is getting his nose into the thick of things, and who knows, maybe some of those conversations were regarding players yet to be moved. The Bernier trade had apparently been in the works since Nonis took the job in T.O. Sometimes these talks bear fruit further down the line. Other times the conversation they have about one player finishes off on a handshake over a different one. Wait and see I suppose.

  • YFC Prez

    I was bitterly disappointed yesterday. But like so many others after hearing what the cost was to acquire Schneider, Coburn and Clutterbuck, I am actually quite content.

    2 2nds and Smid is a drastic overpayment, and a 1st, second, and a prospect is just insane for the slight upgrade in net that Schneider would give.

    Both of those moves would be a step back for the organisation.

    I still wuv Mac T!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Okay, so Craig has established Holmgren likes Smid. Take a couple days and come puck him up from a different direction, a cost cutting one he would have to consider. I know some here are concerned with the 6 yrs/money on Hartnells deal, but with another couple additions, Edmonton can have a lot of success in those coming 6 yrs.

    Perhaps even just two deals (Hartnell/Couturier and Clarkson) and a couple players projected to be on the squad this year are better than expected. Even without an upgrade in goal this could still be a playoff team next season. Give Holmgren Yakupov and Smid, for Couturier, Hartnell and Coburn.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        You must still be in shock your wildcard buddy Nichushkin fell to 10 yesterday. Good thing someone who actually knows what they’re doing, passed on him in the 7th spot.

        Smid is a top pairing blueliner for the Oilers next season. Not even your buddy Nichuskin would be able to compensate for that. Smid is a 4 thru 6 guy on a decent team, nothing more. He’s nothing more than a throw in if it netted the Oilers a second line center or a Gudbranson type.

        • Spydyr

          Trading character players is what got the Oilers in the mess they are in.It is people like you that think all you need is skilled players to win. Trade Gagner 100 times before you trade Smid.

          Keep character trade softness = win

          Trade character keep softness = seven years outside the playoffs.

          Get back to me in 5 years to see if Nichushkin or Nurse was the better pick.

          Until then you sound like a fool.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            ….says the guy who’s pouting over the Oilers selecting, that said character guy, over your soft offensive type wildcard maybe kinda guy.

            Would you like some cheese with that whine?

            Quit throwing your temper tantrum because the Oilers are smarter than you…..get over yourself. Nurse will be twice the dman Smid will ever be.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            You just did the exact same thing, when it came to the type of player Nichushkin is going to be with your screwed up projection thingy.

            Maybe curl up and have a good cry. I just feel sorry for you and your act now. I didn’t get my way……readers of Oilersnation are going to have to pay! WAAAAAAAAA, WHAAAAAAA!

            Here kid, have some cotton candy, ya brat!

          • Spydyr

            You are delusional. I said wait five years no predictions were made.

            Does insulting people make you feel like a better person?

            I believe it does. I have pity for you. One day you may grow up.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Yeah, I figured you’ve seen the ole…”It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt” quote you’ve obviously seen countless times in your travels. Just wanted to give you some variety during one of the many internet battles you enjoy participating in.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            No one cares about the selection. It’s the fact the selection wasn’t used to bring In players to support the young core we have now.

            We need star players, top six winger, bottom six forwards, top 4 d and a #1 goalie.

            None of which have happened, sorry some of us are upset that none of these have been addressed.. Must be nice to be delusional like you.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Geezus already to the complainers… Today, after the draft, the Oilers have a bit more assets to deal with for traqdes as they gotr 1o new ones plus what was left in the barrel system… If MacT overpaid or lost out on any bad deals the world would be screaming right now with the complaints…but he did nothing wrong or bad…it was just not bold…

    Schneider was to be a big overpay situation (on behalf of Gillis to MacT) for a goalie who Dubnyk already matches up well against, Bolland aint that super a 3rd line guy whom nobody talked about two weeks ago anyways, and Clutterbuck??? big deal as there are other guys in this league and upcoming who are cheaper and just as tougher or tougher.

    The Oilers did it right by drafting what everyone wants for this team…a top #2 defenceman prospect who is big at 6’4″ tall, can make strong passes and has some offence, skates excellently, and he loves to give big hits and play mean!!!! So he is about two yrs away and only about 20 lbs light for now…big damn deal!!!! The defence core is now super strong looking for two yrs down the road with J. Schultz, Petry, Smid, Klefbom, even Belov..then there’s Marancin, Gernat, Musil, Davidson, Fedun and Simpson, etc…

    The Oilers also put in lkine two skilled russians of which know Yakupov very well enough to come over here, a good projected 3rd line centre/winger, two gritty agiotating kids in Muir and Chase…plus what there is upcoming too from the prior drafts of ewanyk, Moroz, Kelsy, maybe Pitlick too, etc.

    Now there is a top LW to get, a good couple of goalies, some new bottom six blood and guts/toughness with PK skill and some decent offence.

  • Zarny

    The big move(s) didn’t come so the draft seems an opportunity lost.

    I don’t think so. I don’t think the right moves were there. Gillis accepting less to avoid trading Schneider to a division rival is disappointing but understandable. I’d like to know what Holmgren wanted for Coburn. In the end I think GMs chose to kick the can down the road. We’ll see more action once free agency starts.

    Nurse is a very good prospect and on paper at least exactly what the organization needs. Big, physical, good skater and brings some nasty to the blueline. If the Oilers had more like him MacT wouldn’t have talked Holmgren’s ear off. I know they were looking at Nichushkin and he certainly makes you wonder.

    I question moving 37 and 57 to restock four depth F prospects over one of the top G prospects. It’s an organizational weakness. When Fucale fell to the 2nd round I think it was a mistake not to get go get him.

    Bolland is a great 3rd line C but will want 2nd line money. And his corsi numbers on the 2nd line suck. He’s a better addition in 1-2 years.

    Clutterbuck would have been a good pickup too but topping Niederreiter wouldn’t be worth it.