The Oilers struggles early in the season bring some familiar items from years previous, including the extreme value of high draft picks. With the Oilers currently 28th overall in the NHL standings, a top 3 selection is possible (if things continue). How valuable is a pick that high? Very valuable. How good is this season’s crop? Early returns are mixed. 


The top 5 is an interesting lot, and of course this is so early that we’ll expect to see all kinds of movement in and out of the top 10 as the season rolls along. 

  1. C Sam Reinhart 6.01, 185. A two-way center (righthanded) who can deliver offensively (his 15, 9-18-27 with Kootenay is an impressive start, "in the range" with other top end players of recent vintage). He’s from a hockey family, you can’t find a negative word about the kid. Extremely likely to be drafted by Buffalo unless Tambo wants to help at the lottery. I spoke to Guy Flaming about him yesterday, and he is regarded as an outstanding prospect with impact offensive potential. (Reinhart photo at the top of this article courtesy Lisa McRitchie, all rights reserved)
  2. D Aaron Eklbad 6.04, 217. OHL ProspectsEkblad is a tower of power on the blueline. He’s a physical specimen that is incredibly difficult to play against in the corners and in front of the net. Offensively, he’s still growing and gaining confidence in his ability to run the transition game, but he’s made great strides on the powerplay where he looks more confident distributing the puck and using his shot.
  3. C Willie Nylander 5.10, 163. Elite Prospects: A highly skilled player offensively. Nylander skates very well, has impressive hands and is excellent at handling the puck at high speeds.Hockey sense is very impressive and he likes to shoot the puck a lot, but is also capable of delivering perfect passes. A very agile player that protects the puck well and skates hard in the offensive zone. On the other hand, his defensive game needs some work. Not a selfish player, but at times he tends to hang onto the puck for too long, instead of making the easier play. Has the tools and skills to lead his team in all offensive aspects.
  4. C Leon Draisaitl 6.01, 209. The "German Gretzky"  would be a good fit in Edmonton. Kris BakerDraisaitl plays the game at high pace, using a slick handle and elusiveness to break into the zone. He shows good strength on the puck, and isn’t afraid of using his body to make plays at both ends of the ice. Draisaitl’s passing skills make him a dangerous threat when chased. If he continues to fire the puck more often, Draisaitl could pile up the points in his draft year and cement his status as a top-five pick
  5. L Sam Bennett 6.00, 178. OHL ProspectsBennett is simply a fantastic all around talent. He’s been consistently one of the most dangerous players in the OHL this season (10 goals, 10 assists in 10 games). If there’s a job that needs to get done, Bennett is the man to do it. His offensive instincts are terrific and he’s great at finding holes in the defense, which will allow him to score his share of goals at the next level. But he’s also a terrific playmaker who can assume that bull in a china shop mentality to make plays. His work along the boards and on the forecheck is also excellent. As a penalty killer and defensive player, his game is growing leaps and bounds, which suggests that he profiles as an above average two-way player moving forward. TSN scout Craig Button recently suggested that he could challenge for first overall, a concept that isn’t incredibly far fetched.


In previous seasons, the Oilers were looking at either moving up (last season) or adding picks (Taylor AND Tyler) but this coming season may be one in which Edmonton’s pick is long gone.

Why? If Craig MacTavish is trying to pry an upgrade for the current Oilers then the first round pick is probably going to be asked after by other NHL clubs doing business with the Oil. 

The third overall pick has delivered an outstanding young player in recent seasons:

  • 2008: D Zach Bogosian
  • 2009: C Matt Duchene
  • 2010: D Erik Gudbranson
  • 2011: L Jonathan Huberdeau
  • 2012: C Alex Galchenyuk
  • 2013: L Jonathan Drouin


Its early, but sources have suggested that the 2014 crop of prospects is not as deep as 2013, especially the top of the chart:

  • Redline Report: "we don’t feel the talent at the very top end of this class rivals last year’s star studded crop." 

We should keep in mind that the draft year is just coming into view and not in complete focus. There’s every chance the top 5 above will change order and others may work their way up to the top. 


It’s a delicate balance. Craig MacTavish may have been mulling over trading the first round pick in 2014, but with that pick squarely in the lottery it may be too valuable to trade. That said, can the Oilers afford to put an emphasis on another high draft pick? Is it time to trade this pick BECAUSE it has such great (potential) value?

We’ll see. A month from now the Oilers could be out of lottery territory and the point may be moot. Or they could be focused on the draft and next year. The draft pick–and the season–are in the balance.


  • Zarny

    I wouldn’t count on a top 3 pick lol.

    The slow start was predictable but they aren’t that bad. Cgy, Buf, Fla, Jersey, Dallas, Winnipeg, Columbus, Carolina…it’s a long season.

    The preference is to trade the 2014 first rounder. Bold moves require currency.

    MacT has 1 or 2 of the top 6 F, a couple D prospects and picks to get it done. No one wants to trade their McDavid ticket so 2014 it is.

    You make the trade when the right deal is available but right now is unlikely. The upgrades MacT is looking for aren’t available 13 games into the season.

    Perhaps the trade deadline but it might not be there until the draft ie Jersey snags Schneider.

    • Citizen David

      I bet the McDavid ticket is fools gold. Betman will want to bring in Seattle McDavid’s year to help them out and get fans into it with a superstar. Expansion teams get the first overall.

      • Zarny

        No I don’t think expansion teams are guaranteed the 1st overall pick. Columbus, Minnesota, Nashville didn’t. I believe they just get more balls in the lottery.

        I also don’t think the NHL will expand less than 2 years from now.

        Still, if that was the case you could just trade that pick too.

  • Zarny

    Assuming you can get 100 cents to the dollar, now is exactly when you look at trading the pick. Buy low, sell high and all that.

    Worst case, you get 3rd overall pick value in return, and the trade is a wash.

    Best case, the team’s results catch up to the fancy stats (helped by the return here) and you’re sitting with 3rd overall value while only giving up a mid-round (?) pick.

    • Lowetide

      That’s the big part of the argument in my opinion. If you get great value and it ends up being a pick outside (say) the top 10 in a meh draft? Well there’s a risk but there’s also a payoff possible.

  • DSF

    Unfortunately their is nothing worth getting excited about next years draft personnel wise . Nothing going to make us better going into next season , and that’s a depressing scenario and thought . we either trade our way out of this or spend another 4 years floundering in the basement of league hoping the odd one develops into a usable positive NHL player . Mind you our young ones will then be on their downswings or to expensive to keep . So goes the vicious circle/cycle of Oiler hockey life .

  • DSF

    Just looking back at the past drafts I wonder why anyone would think that the oilers could draft their way out of last place.

    If they can trade the pick for a guy that can help this team play the right way I’m all for it.

  • Zarny

    I am very sad to hear that kids yell at Eakins Oilers Suck in front of his 5 year old daughter! Also, that people yell Oilers Suck as they are driving away from the gas station. It is not his fault! He is too classy to make excuses or point fingers but none of this is his or MAC Ts fault, give them a chance! Jesus H C…! Ask anyone who knows hockey eg Ken Hitchcock, Randy Carlyle, Brian Burke etc. who the best young coach in hockey is- Dallas Eakins! Give him and MACT a chance please! Rome wasn’t built in a day! He has a 4 year deal. By next year this team will be way better than today! GIVE HIM SOME SUPPORT or at least stop the ridiculous VERBAL ABUSE! Edmontonions are better than this!

    • DSF

      Don’t you be guilt tripping us here because of a couple of jerks you’ll find in any city . I believe we are smitten by the Roman collapse of our team of which he is part of , not the rebuild as you allude to . He’ll get his support when positive results come , and unlikely before that .

  • Citizen David

    That draft pick looks more valuable right now than it will by season’s end if you ask me. As bad as our record is right now, I have a hard time believing that we won’t improve as the season rolls along. I don’t see us making the playoffs, but I don’t see us finishing in lottery territory again. If that 1st round pick helps us fetch a top pairing dman or a top 6 forward with size, grit and toughness then we would be foolish not to take a look at moving it.

  • Citizen David

    Keeping the pick is the best move unless we can get outside the top ten. Need to keep the pipeline flowing. In a couple years we will love to have a Draisaitl coming up.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    So this just in on Twitter:

    Ebs tweeted: Giving out the full bar this year. @Hallsy04 and I don’t take shortcuts.

    …no shortcuts? If you say so…

    and then the fake MacT replied with this little gem:

    @Ebs_14 @Hallsy04 Enough with the generous giveaways.


    oh, and make the trade if it makes the team better for the next few years. Don’t wait for perfect, because it may never come.

    edit: I’m an idiot.

  • Kumon Iwannasing

    A quote from Ebs:

    “We have full confidence we can come back. It’s going to turn around,” Jordan Eberle said. “I think there’s a lot more panic with you guys and in the city than there is in this dressing room.”

    WTF? There lies the problem. If Ebs and his millionaire buddies consistently played with the will to win, then yes, the fanbase should not panic. The problem is, they don’t play hard every game, and after seven years of suck, a rebuild going in reverse, and a management team that makes Garth Snow look like Sam Pollock, I think its quite understandable that the fanbase is fed up. Also, I don’t think the fanbase is panicking, I think the fanbase is disgusted and rightfully feels cheated by an unqualified management team that has not even come close to delivering a product that they promised us.

  • Craig1981

    Klowe and MacT can rationalize and justify all of the things they’ve done so far in this ‘rebuild”, but the bottom-line is they are in last place in the Conference, again.
    When KLowe hires his buddies, and the team perpetually struggles despite massive financial support and incredible patience and loyalty from the fanbase, what does he expect? MacT said he looks at 14 game sample to make judgements. I’m looking at a 7 year sample, and from that sample I can safely say the KLowe and his sycophantic buddies are unqualified to manage an NHL team, and that they are absolute amateurs who have turned a once respected franchise into a perpetual basement dwelling laughing stock.

  • beloch

    FFS Edmonton. Stop hogging the top picks! We all know you’ll just play them on your top scoring line as 18 year olds, give them $6M/season before they’ve earned it, and eventually turn them into spoiled, defensively irresponsible, overpaid, post-loss-pub-crawling brats who wouldn’t be worth a pugilist and a bag of pucks in a trade.

    • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

      I just read the Staples article and just shake my head. Amateur city these guys are. I’m in management and before any new initiative or systems change takes place we perform our due diligence, look at potential scenarios and plan accordingly. This is why winning teams win, and why sh*tshows like the Oiler remain stuck in sh*t. With the fanbase at a boiling point, and this being arguably one of the most important years in franchise history, how can these types of amateur mistakes be allowed to happen. This one is on MacT, and my respect for him just slipped….a lot.

    • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

      Eakins: “I assumed that we knew what a traditional D-zone coverage was and it was clear that we didn’t”

      Did Dallas kinda just trash Smith/Bucky/Krueger/Renney?

      I honestly think that presser was great: he absorbed blame, emphasized that his system has/will be tweaked, and emphasized that players will learn to make defence a priority so they can continue to showcase skill.

      I know it’s all talk at this point, but I’m willing to give it a bit of time to see if what he’s saying will come true. If he can make Hemsky/Hall/Eberle/Yak 200 ft players, then maybe as fans we won’t have to cling to excitement about top 5 draft projections every year…

  • Silver Streak

    As some of the media has bought forth : Oilers fail to move forward because of the inability/under development of the fab 6 to move forward in their development . As they put it – it doesn’t make much difference who they surround them with , as it’s up to them to now carry the team to wins , not the other way around now . It’s not happening and the blame lies with fab 6 for not taking over . Ruff giving them limited minutes was a good indicator of the stages they were at .

    The Fab six is why we are where we are at . This season has seen them in arrested development or stagnant at best -thus team has very few wins . Is the Fab6 good enough or should they all be reassessed in light of results garnered ? They simply don’t seem any where near capable of taking team to another level . Will they in the future – not on present course of arrested development .


      The fab 6 as you call them would on any other team still be put in positions to succeed. That is they would be surrounded by veterans teaching them the ins and outs of winning. KLowe decided in his wisdom that youth needed no mentor. The kids will eventually learn what it takes to win mentally but also physically( they are still filling out). We are where we are because of managements unwillingness to address these needs. KLowe must go.


    Eakins now admits the swarm was a mistake because the team hadnt learned defensive fundamentals(see steve smith). It takes a man to admit their mistakes. As for the people telling Eakins he sucks in front of his 5 year old please stop. Eakins wanted his own people to help with the transition but KLowe had to protect his kingdom and wouldnt allow it. Save your venom for Lowe at the game or on postings like this site. Insulting a man in front of his children is classless.

  • Spydyr

    Only an idiot would trade an asset before they knew what it was worth.A lotto pick is worth a lot more then a 10th overall or higher pick.

    So I fully expect “the braintrust” to trade away that pick.They will do it to late to help this year.