The Oilers must aggressively shop their draft picks

Craig MacTavish2

The Edmonton Oilers have a lot of picks at this summer’s draft. General manager Craig MacTavish should be aggressively shopping them. 

There’s something really important to remember about draft picks. With the exception of what is likely to be the Oilers’ third overall selection, most of those picks are looking at three-to-five years of development before they can really be counted on.

In other words, if the Oilers principle goal is to turn the team around before 2020, none of these picks are going to help the team much in pursuit of that goal. At least, that is, if the team opts to keep them.

Timelines and Values

15-Pitlick-1

The Oilers own Pittsburgh’s first-round pick, which as of this writing is likely to be in the 22nd overall range. If we look at a five-player window (the two players taken before, the player taken at and the two players taken after) around that pick, how quickly do they tend to make the NHL?

  • 2014 Draft: 0/5 in the NHL today (though 25th overall pick David Pastrnak has shockingly made the jump for Boston, becoming the first player from outside the top-three of the 2014 Draft to play major-league games).
  • 2013 Draft: 1/5 in the NHL today. Emile Poirier is enjoying a cameo with Calgary, while Andre Burakovsky is down in the AHL after spending most of the year with Washington.
  • 2012 Draft: 1/5 in the NHL today. Olli Maatta counts for our purposes, even though he’s on the injured list at the moment. Scott Laughton is in the minors after 30 games in Philly; Malcolm Subban got a one-game cameo with Boston.
  • 2011 Draft: 2/5 in the NHL today. Connor Murphy is a third-pairing defenceman in Arizona, while Matt Puempel is 11 games into his career with Ottawa. Joe Morrow is back in the minors after filling in on the Boston blue line.
  • 2010 Draft: 3/5 in the NHL today. Riley Sheahan is contributing as a regular in Detroit, Kevin Hayes is finding his way as a rookie in New York and Beau Bennett is playing depth minutes in Pittsburgh. Jarred Tinordi and Mark Pysyk both had NHL cameos but have spent the bulk of their time in the AHL.
  • 2009 Draft: 5/5 in the NHL today. Marcus Johansson headlines a lackluster group that includes Jacob Josefosson, John Moore, Jordan Schroeder and Tim Erixon.

Meanwhile, picks in that range have been used as ammunition to acquire any number of legitimate NHL players. The best use of a pick in that area in trade was probably by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010; they shipped it to a cap-strapped Chicago team as part of a package that brought in Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien would play 23 minutes per game as a top-pairing defenceman in Atlanta the next year and while there have been some ups and downs along the way he’s still playing 23 minutes per game mostly as a defenceman for that same franchise.

What about the team’s second round selection (as of today 33rd overall)?

  • 2014 Draft: 0/5 in the NHL today.
  • 2013 Draft: 1/5 in the NHL today. Jacob de la Rose is playing depth minutes in Montreal after spending the bulk of the season in the AHL; he’s the only second-round pick from 2013 in the league today.
  • 2012 Draft: 0/5 in the NHL today.
  • 2011 Draft: 1/5 in the NHL today. Tomas Jurco is a nice depth piece in Detroit. Meanwhile Ty Rattie, Rocco Grimaldi and Scott Mayfield have all had NHL cameos at some point.
  • 2010 Draft: 1/5 in the NHL today. Believe it or not, the only one of these picks with any NHL games played is Tyler Pitlick, presently on injured reserve in Edmonton.
  • 2009 Draft: 2/5 in the NHL today. Ryan O’Reilly has been great for Colorado, while Kyle Clifford is a useful depth piece in L.A. Mikko Koskinen, Landon Ferraro and Carl Klingberg have all had NHL cameos at some point.

Picks at this point in the draft are generally traded for other picks, but sometimes there is a player involved. As an example, the Hurricanes used a pick in this range as a sweetener in a trade that saw Jamie McBain dealt to Buffalo in exchange for Andrej Sekera. Sekera played just under 24 minutes per game and scored 44 points in his first season in Carolina. The next year he played just under 23 minutes per game until he was dealt to L.A. at the trade deadline for a first round pick and prospect Roland McKeown.

The Obvious Choice

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Craig MacTavish likes to talk about how real players have the most value at the trade deadline, while draft picks tend to have the most value on draft day. He’s right. We could even go a step further and argue that draft picks tend to be the most overvalued on draft day.

It’s not that teams don’t suffer when they trade away draft picks; they absolutely do. The draft is essential, because it keeps a steady stream of good, cheap, young players coming up through the system. But it needs to be kept in its proper place. A team stockpiling a lot of picks, such as Edmonton did in 2010, is building for five years down the road rather than the present.

MacTavish and the Oilers have an awfully impressive stockpile of selections at the moment, a stockpile which includes six definite picks in the first three rounds of the 2015 Draft and might end up including seven (depending on Montreal’s postseason fortunes. If those picks are all kept, the Oilers can probably look forward to having a pretty nice crop of young NHL’ers in 2020, just as they have Taylor Hall and Martin Marincin and Tyler Pitlick now thanks to the team’s work in 2010. But the problem is that the current young NHL core isn’t likely to survive to 2020 unless it is bolstered by immediate help.

Edmonton could trade three of its six early selections and still have a better-than-average collection of picks at the draft thanks to its decidedly better-than-average position in the draft order. If the Oilers want to be very conservative, they could settle for trading two of those six selections.

But there should be absolutely no doubt that Edmonton should trade some of them, with the list probably including that first-round pick which came over from Pittsburgh. The Oilers’ rebuild needs NHL help right now much more than it needs a bumper crop of NHL help in 2020. An aggressive course of action which sees the team move some of those early picks for this year’s versions of Byfuglien and Sekera is absolutely the course it should pursue.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

    • Kevwan

      No worries, we’ll see what he does and find out how it works. then next year when the teams fighting for whatever top prospect is up for grabs, we’ll have this same conversation and debate on who we should draft. Isn’t that what were suppose to do as oiler fans?

      Pretty sure a large portion of oiler fans would make pretty good scouts by now

  • Kevwan

    I’d move a pick or 2 along with a player for a 30ish good D. Not their own top 5 first rounder.

    The Oilers face 2 problems:

    1 Many veteran players want to play elsewhere.

    2 The Oilers are ranked 25th out of 30 for orginizational prospect strength by Hockey Futures

    http://www.hockeysfuture.com/team-rankings/fall-team-rankings-2014-15/page/3

    No good teams stay good without an “orginizational push” from their prospects. Trading away draft picks for players means that push may never come. Combine that with a reluctance of vets willing to come to Edmonton it means building through the draft is really the only choice.

  • Kevwan

    After watching last night’s game, it became quite clear that we ARE playing better. We slammed 47 shots against Columbus. The only thing that let us down was the goal tending, so that should be the first and most important position to fill. After that just one really tough proven D. We have Nurse almost ready and I think once the goalie situation has been solved things will change in a hurry. Taking another team’s back up and expecting him to be fantastic when our defense was so weak was a no-win situation for the team, the fans or the goalies. Let’s face it, the goalie is the last line of defense and unfortunately, neither of ours have that strength.

    • Kevwan

      Goaltending must be rectified but first deal with the defence. Fix this and it might make scrivens look at least average. After the fix ups on D, then focus on getting a goalie.

  • I think trading picks for players is a near term strategy, not a strong organisation strategy. The majority of quality veteran players will have trade clauses in their deals, thus NA. Better younger players with UFA or RFA coming up in a year or two will become too expensive to keep or will use their FA, thus they are short term. I’m agreeing with those who suggest targeting players on salary cap trouble teams, as well as FA utility veteran signings like Boyd Gordon
    MacT is an upgrade over Tambelini.

  • Spydyr

    Line up would look like: Pouliot Nuge Lucic Hall Roy Yaks Purcell Lander Dreisidle, Gadzic, Pitlick Hendricks Gordon Klink D Chara Nurse Klefbomb Schultz Ferencee Marincin Nicky

  • Young Oil

    In keeping with the patience theme, here is what I’d do: assuming they are 3rd, draft Hanafin.

    Package the second #1, a #2, and a #3, to move back into the top-12 and draft a Zacha or Rantanen. Huge Cs playing in Europe, which means they could play in the AHL next season. (They can also play the wing).

    In as little as two years, the Oilers can bring up Nurse, Draisatl and Rantanen. Nitikin is off the books so you can add a free agent D-man to shore up the defencemen. And Hanafin is developing in the AHL.

  • Young Oil

    Answers lay in Chicago. $62M committed next year to 11 players. They will need relief.
    Seabrook, Sharpe & Raanta. PIT #1. Oilers 2nd & 3rd + 1F & 1D off Barons. 2016 2nd should the Oilers make playoffs + 2017 1st if Seabrook resigns.

    CHI won’t be able to ice a team without shedding serious salaries. They have depth on farm for Dmen.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Bickell, Versteeg, Sharp, Raanta or Darling, Seabrook and Hjalmarsson are a few of the guys they’ll try to dump, Bickell and Versteeg for sure. and with both Oduya and Rozival and Timonen off the books defensively, Marincin might play a key part in a trade with the Hawks.

      Carcillo, Vermette and Richards are off the books up front as well i would like to see Bickell here. $4.5/per for 2 more years, but great size (6’4″, 235), OK production, experienced and a cup winner, the Oil might be able to move him to the top 2 lines and get some size up there? just my uniformed 2 cents.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Chicago is a better target than Boston (Chara is 38!!). Doubt CHI would let Seabrook AND Sharp go to another team in the west though. Perhaps Seabrook, Bickell and Raanta for the PIT #1, a 2nd & 3rd, plus Marincin and prospect.

      Pouliot-Nuge-Ebs
      Hall-Roy-Yak
      Bickell-Lander-Purcell
      Hendricks-Gordon-Klink

      Klefbom-Shlutz
      Nurse-Seabrook
      Ference-Nikitin

      Hate to rush Nurse though.

  • Young Oil

    Zacha plays in the OHL apparently. I’m an idiot.

    Otherwise, trading the 2nd #1 with some other picks to move up and draft the 6’4 Finnish Bull seems like a solid move. When was the last time the Oilers had a true power forward?

  • Mabell

    I’d do Hall and a 2nd rounder for Chara and Krejci. Its a lot of money to take on but both players bring a ton of leadership to a young Oilers team. I like the way Eberle has played with Nuge in this last stretch to the season. Hall seems a tad bit Diva-Ish. Chara instantly shores up the defense and gives the younger guys some swagger out there. His nastiness will be a welcome addition playing against the Hulks of California. Krejci can easily slide into the number 2-3 center spot and take some tough assignments along with Boyd Gordon.

    Use the Pittsburgh 1st rounder to get a guy like Cam Talbot from the Rangers.

  • camdog

    Bruins made a mistake keeping Chara over Boychyuk going into this season. It’s a mistake that’s going to cost the GM and his coach their jobs.

    The Oilers need to have all draft picks in play this season (unless they have 1 and 2 overall). Can’t trade for somebody that was good 2-3 years ago or a d-man within a year of UFA.

  • Oilfaninvan

    This post simply underscores the idiocy of the MacTavish trade of Perron in the first place.
    If he wanted to trade Perron , trade him for an actual NHL player, not the ephemeral possibility of a late first round draft pick.
    As your analysis points out, most draft picks don’t work out if the standard is real NHL players.
    That some teams value them so much is astonishing.
    Unless, if the Oilers are picking higher than three or and Hanifan, MacDavid and Eichel are all gone ,then they should be trading their own pick as well.
    This team’s fan base has been abused long enough.
    It needs competitiveness immediately.
    The bungling of Petry and Perron should justify MacTavish’s immediate firing as GM.

    One last thing, stop citing Pitlick as some valuable accomplishment of the 2010 draft. Even when he is not injured he is a total non-entity on the ice. Undersocrd total non-entity.

    Another in the long line of wasted second round draft picks by the Oilers.

    • MorningOwl

      Hanifin has been sliding – considered soft like Boumeester… I don’t think I would draft him third if I was the Oilers.

      On a side note, what if the Flames miss the playoffs by a point or tie breaker, and end up winning the draft lottery and getting McDavid.

  • Puck_In_Throat

    One other point to be made in the whole notion of actually trying to make the Oilers competitive next year.
    Trade Draisatl for an actual player.
    All signs suggest he is a passive, slow, and underacheiving bust.
    Flush him before others figure this out.
    His pick should have been traded last year.
    Imagine what that might have provided in terms of not wasting this year again to total managerial incompetnence.
    Roy has massively more useful than what Draisatl could offer. Saying that, we all know the imperfections of Roy, but at least he can generate offense , mostly importantly for Yakupov.
    Do the Oilers need another Joe Stumpel? Hardly.

    • Funny, the guy was renowned for being an idiot. Then his owner who knew nothing about hockey divested himself of controlling interest in the club, new owners arrived and Snow is doing what he thinks is right…and they are winning.

      Biggest issue with this team is and always will be Katz. He should start an expansion team in Seattle and piss off.

  • Yakcity7

    The only thing that should be shopped is MAC T, KLOWE and HOWSON If this is not done do any of you really have any confidence that this tire fire will change??

    The sad thing that has happened to my team is that now fans are embarrassed with what this team has become and are becoming themselves apathetic(Which is outright dangerous) and the same negative culture has spilled over to the players and like it or not has effected them and this will not change until we make a move with all of management.