The Edmonton Oilers have three selections that will land inside the Top 35 overall in the 2015 draft: Their own first and second selections and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first rounder. It’s not certain if the team will add picks during the time leading up to the trade deadline but the more interesting question is this: Does Craig MacTavish make a deal on the draft floor that includes one or more of those precious 2015 picks?
THE LOTTERY PICK!
If the Oilers pick first or second, they will absolutely walk to the podium and select Connor McDavid (No. 1) or Jack Eichel (No. 2). After that? Well, it’s complicated. For me, any of Noah Hanifin, Dylan Strome or Mitch Marner would be quality selections but what if MacT can cash that pick (say, 3, 4 or 5) for immediate help that addresses an area of weakness?
Would you trade the No. 3 overall selection in a deal for Sean Couturier? What about a package that includes the lottery pick for Robin Lehner and Mika Zibanejad? Lehner and Lazar? Or what about Arizona? Toronto? Carolina? It’s going to be a crazy summer based on some of the rumblings in NHL cities. I’m not saying the Oilers will trade the lottery pick but the idea of getting NHL-ready players age 20-23 has considerable appeal. It’s also true that Bob Green—the new recruitment guru—knows Lazar very well.
Chances are Edmonton makes the pick and I think it’ll come down to Hanifin or Strome. Marner? Small and despite being a center may well move to wing. Plus he looks a lot like Ales Hemsky based on viewings and I can’t see the Oilers drafting that kind of player in the MacT era. No sir. Up the middle, please and thanks.
THE PENGUINS PICK!
Let’s begin by agreeing that the Bob McKenzie list is the bible for the NHL’s entry draft. His mid-season look is here. We have evidence that Craig MacTavish was watching Jansen Harkins here. Is it reasonable to suggest Edmonton would be thrilled with the two-way center if he’s available with the Penguins pick?
Or do you package that pick at the draft? The No. 23 pick (if it lands there) added to a quality prospect (say Martin Marincin) could fetch a useful NHL player, no? Especially if said veteran is a little overpriced for what he brings?
THE SECOND ROUNDER
Don’t ask me how I know (this comes from years of watching the Oilers Oiler) but MacKenzie Blackwood might as well buy an Oilers jersey now. He’s a goalie, top-ranked and plays in the CHL. Edmonton has little in the cupboard and last season’s bets (the crazily named Zach Nagelvoort and Keven Bouchard) don’t look like home runs from here.
THE TOP THREE PICKS!
- D Noah Hanifin
- C Jansen Harkins
- G MacKenzie Blackwood
Or, maybe they make a big trade with the Senators (who always seem to be an attractive partner). Either way, the Oilers are well placed to impact the draft or acquire actual NHL players. The draft floor should be action central for the orange and blue.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
A year ago, the Oilers traded Nick Schultz to Columbus, Ales Hemsky to the Senators and Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild. The club also acquired Viktor Fasth from Anaheim around the same time. It looks like Edmonton will be active again this deadline and the focus appears to be on exits as opposed to entries. The Fasth addition should remind us opportunities for procurement may present themselves at the deadline this season but the big show will be at the draft.
Bold? Perhaps we should choose our words more carefully this time around.