Landing a Real Player at the Draft

Craig MacTavish2

If the Edmonton Oilers come back from Florida this summer with a bunch of shiny new prospects and nothing else, general manager Craig MacTavish will have failed in a significant way. The Oilers have a surplus of picks, enough cap space to take on salary, and a host of opponents facing a cap crunch. More importantly, they have a desperate need for NHL talent.

It still won’t be easy to make such a deal.


There are quite obvious holes that we have that we’ll be looking to try and move pieces, whether it’s that first pick in the second round in a very strong draft. The value level of draft choices continues to go up as you get to the draft, so we know that we have to use some of those picks to try and improve our team in the long-term and in the short-term so we’ll be trying to do that. At least this year we have enough picks that it’s a good strategy. Last year going into the draft we had a first and then I traded the second, I traded the third, so we were sitting there. We’re sitting at the draft table in the same position [in the draft order] but we’re in a whole lot better situation in my mind.

Craig MacTavish, March 2.

MacTavish has made it clear that he’s going to go to the draft and try to improve the team in the here-and-now, not in five years’ time. Here’s what he has to work with in terms of picks:

  • Edmonton’s 2015 first-round pick (as of today 2nd overall)
  • Pittsburgh’s 2015 first-round pick (as of today 23rd overall)
  • Edmonton’s 2015 second-round pick (as of today 32nd overall)
  • Montreal’s 2015 second-round pick (as of today 61st overall)
  • Ottawa’s 2015 third-round pick (as of today 72nd overall)
  • St. Louis’ 2015 third-round pick (as of today 85th overall)
  • Edmonton’s 2015 fourth-round pick (as of today 93rd overall)
  • A conditional 2015 pick from Montreal between the third and fifth round
  • Edmonton’s 2015 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks.
  • Edmonton’s 2016 picks in all seven rounds.
  • Dallas’ 2016 seventh-round pick
Update: As alert reader Jonathan McLeod points out, the Oilers actually received the Blues’ 2015 third-round pick in the Perron trade in exchange for their own fourth-round selection. The chart above has been corrected to reflect that. 

Picks Alone Probably Won’t Do It


If we look at non-deadline trades involving draft picks, we get a feel for what the cost is to acquire NHL players. It’s expensive.

Occasionally, a team will get lucky, landing a legitimate piece for not much based on another team’s cap crunch. Tampa Bay was able to pick up No. 4 defenceman Jason Garrison from Vancouver in exchange for just a second-round pick in 2014; given that Garrison would be the best defenceman on the Oilers’ roster that’s the kind of deal one would imagine the Oilers would have been all over if they hadn’t previously spent their 2014 second-rounder on David Perron.

Generally, though, the prices are more expensive and involve more than draft picks.

A second-round pick doesn’t always land a player of Garrison’s calibre. San Jose had to cough one up for the rights to Tyler Kennedy, whose value fluctuates but who we can reasonably peg as a third-line winger. Vancouver sent the pick it got from Garrison to Los Angeles in exchange for prospect Linden Vey, who ranks ninth on the team in ice-time.

For better players, the cost goes up. Consider the case of Ryan Kesler, a legitimate No. 2 pivot and the kind of guy the Oilers almost certainly would love to get their hands on. In exchange for the services of Kesler (and a 2015 third-round pick), Anaheim sent two young roster players (Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa) to Vancouver, along with first- and third-round picks. Ottawa paid a similar price for winger Bobby Ryan, sending young NHL’er Jakob Silfverberg, top prospect Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick to the Ducks in that trade. Then-probable No. 1 goalie Cory Schneider was acquired by the Devils at the cost of a ninth overall pick.

Let’s assume, for a moment, that one of those better players becomes available to the Oilers, someone in the range of a Kesler or a Ryan. Edmonton has a first-round pick to trade – either Pittsburgh’s late selection this year or the Oilers’ own choice in 2016. Which players fill the role of Bonino/Sbisa or Silfverberg/Noesen? Edmonton has young players and top prospects it can’t afford to trade – players like Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl – but it’s short on good second-tier prospects and quality young roster players.

If Craig MacTavish goes to market with a package that includes the Penguins’ 2015 first, Martin Marincin and Anton Lander, is that enough to land a quality player? What if he swaps in Bogdan Yakimov for Lander?

It’s likely going to be a difficult summer.


  • Anton CP

    Draft day NOT to do list:

    Trade in any players that are currently on Leafs roster.

    Trade away team’s own prospects for more magic beans.

    Draft a player because TSN tell you so.

    Refuse an all-star caliber player trade for your own magic beans.

    What else?

    • jonnyquixote

      I know he’s young but next time you watch cowen play just watch at his ability to actually play defence. He could possibly be one of the worst actual defencemen when it comes to actually playing defence. Case in point Gustav Nyquist 24 second goal.

  • sportsjunkie007

    Draft picks are little better than lottery tickets. If MacT can trade them all for NHL roster players, do it. Just as long as he gets a fair return in those trades.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    the way I see it we are missing two top 6 forwards, one top 9, two top 2 defenders, and a number one goalie. for the oilers to be competitive, we’d need to fill those holes with size, skill, and experience . no exceptions. it’ll be hard to feel considering the assets were working with but our current lineup is clearly not good enough.

    Line 1: Hall RNH Eberle

    Line 2: Pouliot ???? ????

    Line 3: Yak Roy ????

    Line 4: Hendricks Gordon Klinkhammer

    Def 1: ???? ????

    Def 2: Klefbom Schultz

    Fed 3: Marincin Fayne

    Goal: ???? Scrivens

    I’d fill Line 2 with Jordan Staal via Pitt’s 1st and a prospect and Iginla with a 3rd Rounder.
    Line 3: can be filled Chris Stewart who is a UFA

  • jonnyquixote

    How about going after Seabrook and Sharp this summer? If we don’t a chance at McDavid then trade the 2nd overall or lower to Chicago for Marancin and the 1st rounder for these two. Chicagos cap problems begin next year with the Toews and Kane mutli billion dollar deals kicking in.

  • jonnyquixote


    1. Why is Nail Yakupov not on the 1 line or PP1???? (Pure goal scorer – Ovechkin/Bure type sniper playing on a 3rd line with Roy????? c’mon man?

    2. Mike Ribeiro was available to us this past summer. Head case or not: dude can play hockey people!!!!!!!

    3. Montreal stiffed us on the Petry trade.MacT better be taking it in the bum (no Vaseline) for this one.

    4. My grandma can force Eberle off the puck with the greatest of ease.

    5. Seguin is better than Taylor Hall.

    6. Jason Bonsignore should be sued for every penny he’s made at McDonalds over the last 20 years.

    7. Why is Dubnyk ripping up the NHL all of a sudden???

    8. BOgden Yakimov needs to be called up immediately.

    9. MacT better be getting it in the bum with a broomstick!

  • TKB2677

    I fully expect to be disappointed when the draft is all over. If MacT makes any good moves that improves the team for 2015, I will happily stunned.

    He will make a trade, maybe two, but nothing that improves the team significantly. The best I can see him doing is trading Pittsburg’s pick for Steve Bernier. That would OK, i guess.

    He could make a big splash with Yak, who’s stock is rising, but Mact loves talent wingers. Can’t see it.

  • TKB2677

    You have to assume that Mac T knows what he is doing.

    However, “visually” he looks good and talk a good game, but he has replaced the entire team and 2 coaches from Tambolini and has a worse record.

    So “visually” an evidence based, I would not let Mac T run a lemon aid stand let alone a hockey team.

  • hitchikerforajax

    Until Katz finally desides, that he has had enough losing & rid the Oilers of all the “management”, this team will continue to lose & lose big. This team is awful. The team has no goaltending, no defence & no real scorers. This team has mickey mouse “leaders” & their scouts have been out to lunch for the last 8-9 yrs. Finally, they have an owner, who doesn’t give a sh**. So what do they have??? The Oiler have great fans, who will continue to pay big bucks, to support a team, that certainly doesn’t deserve the support.