Drafting Outside Of The Top Three

Worst Case Scenario: The Oilers somehow gain enough points
to overtake the Leafs for 27th place in the NHL over the final weeks
of the season. The team is stuck in the 4th spot in the draft and,
depending on how the lottery balls sort out, they might end up picking 5th.

Even staying in 28th there’s a very good chance
that the Oilers will end up picking 4th. Just as a reminder,
finishing 3rd last means there’s a 55% chance that a team higher in
the standings than the Oilers wins that lottery. It’s as close to a coin flip
as you’re going to get to being forced down one last spot.

If Edmonton does finish exactly where they are now and
indeed are stuck picking 4th overall then they will very likely be
missing out on the two franchise centers Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel as well
as the highest rated defenseman Noah Hanifin. That leaves the Oilers with a
significantly less obvious decision to make at the draft table.

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The two front runners to round out the top five are Dylan
Strome and Mitch Marner. There might be an outsider on the frays but those two
finished the season 1 + 2 in OHL scoring as 17 year olds and should be
considered as elite prospects. Passing on either should not be done lightly (I’m looking at you, Crouse).


Younger brother of Ryan Strome, who is the Islanders’ third
leading scorer, Dylan Strome might have well been considered a top two pick in
any other draft year. He’s a 6’3” 187lb center who has 45 Goals, 84 Assists, and
129 Points in the OHL in 68 Games. The biggest knock against him isn’t really
anything he’s done but who else he plays with on his team.

He’s the second best Otter in Erie behind the dynamo
that is Connor McDavid. They often played on separate lines and only together
on the power play, but that’s still going to provide him a pretty big bump. He’d
invariably face weaker matchups than McDavid and even a little time on the PP
goes a long way with someone as offensively proficient as McSaviour.

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Strome finished the year with 1.9 Points per Game, but how
much of that is the McDavid Bump? Well, luckily (?) for teams who are drafting
in that range, McDavid broke his hand, went to the World Juniors, and was sat
out at least one game to rest. In total, Strome played 21 games without McDavid
and he still produced 35 points in those games.

That puts Strome at a 1.67 points per game pace with the
most difficult matchups and without a freak outlying talent there to boost his
production. That number is still the third highest in the OHL for
draft eligible kids. In other words, it isn’t all McDavid. Dylan Strome is a
fantastic prospect in his own right. The fact that he’s also centerman goes a
long way too.


Mitch Marner suffers from an acute case of “Not Being Tall”,
which has hurt his placement in the rankings all year. At 5’10” and 164lbs he
is very undersized compared to the other top five hopefuls. He is only now getting
some respect for the season he had after finishing second in OHL
scoring. He could have been first, but Strome exploded for six points on the
final game of the season to overtake him.

Marner has been scoring in the Ontario Hockey League since
he was 16 years old. In his first ever season with the Knights, barely
old enough to drive, he scored 59 points in 64 games.  He was almost a point per game last year. As
an aside, Dylan Strome only had 39 points in 60 games last year. Now this
season he lead the charge for the Knights to the tune of 44 Goals, 82 Assists,
and 126 Points in just 63 games.

Marner finished the year with two points per game on the nose.
In terms of where he’ll land on draft day, his biggest problems are those
sweaters in size small and the fact that he’s a winger. There has been some
talk of him playing center occasionally, but the Knights list him as a RW and I
think that’s where he’ll find himself in the NHL.

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His playing style has been likened to that of Patrick Kane,
a small but creative and speedy winger who will produce points at the NHL



The Oilers’ fate is not yet sealed. The Sabres and the
Coyotes will play each other twice in relatively short order and barring both
teams forfeiting, somebody has to win those games. Arizona might well leap frog
Edmonton and the Oil would then have at least third secured. If the
Oilers stay in the same spot, however, they might be looking at taking one of
these two kids with that pick.

If all things are considered equal, I say go with the
center. The Oilers have proven that you can never have enough of them or at
very least what happens when you really don’t have enough of them. The problem
is that Mitch Marner might really project to be the better player.

Edmonton is deep enough on the wing that they really don’t “need”
Mitch Marner in the fold, but should they add him then I won’t cry about it. He has a strong history of offensive production in one of the top junior leagues in the world. The
Oilers as they are built today are in a position where they will likely have to
make tough decisions on good players just to fix the balance. Marner might make some of those decisions more palatable.

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I’m just going to sit back and try to enjoy the ride because
either of these players should make the teams that draft them very happy.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Crouse played with low quality scoring forwards for 33gm and goals scorers last 23gm.

    56gm 29G 22A .518 GPG .911 PPG

    33gm 16G 7A .485GPG .697 PPG

    23gm 13G 15A .565 GPG 1.217 PPG

    When he played with top end OHL forwards he was a lottery player.

    32G 69 PT Age NHLE

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Yes, go with the center. Probably the second most valuable position with defense being the most valued. You can never have enough centers and i think Nuge, Drai and strome would look pretty freakin good.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    The Oilers are even getting worse at tanking.

    Out of the playoffs by November, and yet work there way nearly out of a top 5 pick. Assuring maximum number of uninteresting games, while still making the draft less exciting too.

    Next year, lets fall apart like the leafs, at least we get more interesting games throughout the year.

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    Careful picking up players who played on the same line as incredible talents…

    Marc Antione Pouliot played on Crosby’s line in junior – How’d that work out for us?

    Sam Gagner played with Patrick Kane – Same question.

    I probably could have gotten 35 pts a year playing on a line with Gretzky, but then again so could a barrel of pickled squid… Just sayin…

      • Wax Man Riley

        Crosby and Pouliot were drafted from the same Rimouski team where they were teammates and linemates in 2004. MAP scored 45-69-114 that year.

        Sid scored 66-102-168.

        I’m pretty sure MAP was the benefactor of a few of those 102 apples.

        • pkam

          MAP was drafted in June 2003, before Crosby joined the QMJHL. 2005 was Crosby draft year. Not sure how a player can benefit from the stats 2 years after his draft. Do you mean Crosby benefited from playing with MAP?

      • Wax Man Riley

        Crosby and Pouliot were drafted from the same Rimouski team where they were teammates and linemates in 2004. MAP scored 45-69-114 that year.

        Sid scored 66-102-168.

        I’m pretty sure MAP was the benefactor of a few of those 102 apples.

        • Zarny

          You miss the point.

          Pouliot was drafted in 2003. I’m sure he did benefit from Crosby in 2004 but he was already drafted.

          Crosby had zero affect on Pouliot’s draft position because he wasn’t even on the team yet.

    • Zarny

      Edm drafted Pouliot after the 2002-03 season. Crosby didn’t play in Rimouski until 2003-04.

      I don’t think it’s as much about who guys play with in Junior as it is about what skills translate to the NHL.

      In Junior Sam’s skating was good enough. In the NHL it’s not.

        • Zarny

          Personally I think it all stems from Sam’s skating being average. At least offensively. He can’t blow by D and if he gets a step behind he can’t recover. But that isn’t to say Sam has the fastest brain in the league.

          Defensively I just think Sam never needed or learned positioning in Jr because he and Kane always had the puck. Certainly not uncommon with prolific scorers in Junior.

          • ubermiguel

            Agreed. I always figure to play at this level you need a speed, smarts or a good combo of both. Samwise just doesn’t have either at a high level. Maybe his hockey IQ will increase under Tippett; I hope it does for his sake. Coffey was fast, Lindstrom was smart and positionally perfect. Brett Hull made a HHOF career out of being in the right spot and having a big shot.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    Trade the pick.

    On second thought trade both first round picks and for a NHL defensemen and goalie.

    Support the current players with Veteran players

    If we pick 2 players in the first round by the time they are ready to play NHL hockey – 2 to 4 years – the core, RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yak will be moving along.

    And we will still be out to the playoffs

    Do anything to support the current core.

    Why are Oiler fans obsessed with picking draft players only to see the team continue to fail

    • TKB2677

      That’s exactly how I feel. At some point as an organization you have to stop selling the future and embrace the now. It’s not like the entire roster is complete garbage. There are good pieces on this team. A good goalie and a couple of good Dmen would go a long way for this team. If you want the evidence, look 3 hours down the highway.

      With this draft being supposedly as good as it is, if they could turn that top pick into a couple of legit, good NHLers, that fill a need, that would be HUGE. Mac T keeps talking about how they have acquired all these asset through pain. Well it’s time to start cashing in these assets and fill some holes.

      • ubermiguel

        I get what you’re saying. I also see Strome, Nurse and Drai being our “value contracts” on ELC (or bridge deal) in a few years when the team is in the playoffs. I think I’m done with this current core being the group that takes us all the way, too much time has been wasted. I feel like they’re the pieces we move to get support for Nurse, Drai and this years’ pick when they peak. RNH is the only unmoveable guy for me right now. One or two of the big wingers will not be part of this team when it’s really good.

        • TKB2677

          If I was GM, I would be changing up the core.

          I agree that Nuge is untouchable. They already lack top 6 centers. Nuge is only 21 and his game has taken a HUGE step this year. He is already a very good 2 way center and is going to be a fantastic 2 way center for years to come.

          I wouldn’t trade Hall. He’s a point a game player. He’s a driver. In a league where 80-90 pts is now considered elite level scoring (there probably won’t be a 90pt scorer this season), if you have a player that can score in the elite level range, you better hang on to him.

          I would make a decision on Eberle and Yak. You keep one, trade the other. You can’t have both of your top 6 right wingers being under 6 ft and under 200. Eberle is going to score mid 65’s in points again. He is an elite complimentary player. You know what he is. He is a mid 20’s – 30 goal, mid 60’s player. Yak, is still young, we have no idea what he will be. I think point wise, he has the potential to be what Eberle is – 30’s goals, 60ish points but don’t think he will surpass what Eberle is now. So the question would be, keep what you know or gamble on the unknown. I personally would keep what you know.

          • Craig1981

            The only problem i have is having Hall,RNH, and Ebs on the same line if Yak’s gone. Just ask Eakins how that went having only one scoring line not good, the other teams only have to shut down one line then they win the game, case in point the first half of this year until Roy came in.

          • TKB2677

            Who says you have to keep them together? I would create duos. Nuge and Eberle seem to play really well together. Put a bigger left winger on their line – for now if you had too keep Pouliot as that bigger body. Pair Hall and Draisatl together. Draisatl is a fantastic passer who everyone says is slow but he won the Oilers fastest skater(Hall I assume was a little banged up). Have Leon firing passes to Hall. Hall backs the defenders off with his speed and Leon follows up to clean things up. Put another Pouliot type guy on RW, a bigger body that plays a strong 2 way game and you’d have a great line.

            Leon probably needs some time to further develop but I am thinking about longer term. Leon will easily top out as close to 220lbs. Everyone seems to think that if you are in the top 6, you need to be scoring at least mid 20’s in goals. My thinking for the LW on the Huge-Eberle line and the RW on the Hall-Dras line is a Tomas Holmstrom type. Ideally a little bigger as Holmstrom was only 6 ft, 198. But you are looking for a guy that goes to the net, is a net front presence, dig pucks out of the corners, provide a little defensively awareness and clears space. If you can get that type of guy and he scores 15-20. Perfect. Look at Pouliot. He’s got 16 in 50 games. If he played with Nuge and Eberle the whole year and was healthy, he’s pushing 20. There are lots of guys that could do exactly that.

          • ubermiguel

            Awsome philosophy. I also believe in pairs. Essentially you would create a 1a, 1b line. Drai and hall would be an interesting combo. I also agree you need a guy with mediocre offensive awareness who has size and a little grit. He would like you say get I front of the net and cause havoc while the two other forwards create some magic with more open ice as the defence will need to respect the nigh guy in front of the net.

            More greasy goals! That wins hockey games. If course competent D and G also help.

    • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

      Strome is the top scorer in the OHL at 17. He’s 6″3. True Gagner had 118 points playing on a line with Kane, and Strome’s PP time is with McDavid, but I think Strome has a higher ceiling.

      Not to mention he won’t be rushed to the NHL, won’t be expected to play a top six role when he does land here, and will have the size to actually play in the west.

    • Zarny

      Mitch Marner is Gagner. The last thing this team needs is another small player.

      I say take Strome if necessary.Can always use a bigger center even if it ends up being trade bait. Even though he and McD are on the same team they don’t play together all the time. Strome’s not a bad player and will garner strong trade interest if necessary.

  • Craig1981

    I was always opposed to Crouse, but then I realized he is about 1.5 months away from being in next years draft. Those ‘meh’ numbers he has might be off the chart next year

    Strome and Marner are only 4-3 months older than Crouse….just for info

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Strome is a Perry clone. Big forward with well over a PPG average. Take him and run far away if you are not picking in the top 2

  • ubermiguel

    I don’t think its fair to compare Strome to Gagner solely because of the circumstance. If the Oilers end up drafting Strome he won’t be rushed into an Oilers uniform (or he damn well shouldn’t but look what happened to Draisaitl). More than likely Strome will be sent back and will get another year in Junior without McDavid so that should end any of those “bump-up stats” with McDavid being a linemate of his.

    If we don’t end up with McDavid or Eichel, there should be zero reason we see any of Strome, Marner, Hanifan to be a starter for the Edmonton Oilers.

    For once I hope management can do something right. But we all know that story.

    • MGD

      I don’t take the Strome = a bigger Gagner as an insult. If Samwise were 15-20lbs heavier and 2-4″ taller he wouldn’t have ended up on his ass all the time. The guy has sick hands and great skill, but can’t stand up to the size of WC defencemen. If we get the same hands and vision that Gagner has in man-size, I’d love that!

  • oobespoons

    I don’t care which they draft just as long as they let him develop in junior and AHL!

    No more rushing guys to the NHL just because The Oilers don’t have anyone better to play a position! It just damages these kids in the long run!

  • Something tells me Hanifin will still be there at #4. If 3 teams can pass on Seth Jones(which still blows my mind to this day), what’s stopping the third overall team from picking an offensive talent like Strome or Marner over Hanifin?

    But what does it matter, we’re going to win the draft right?…RIGHT!? anyone..

    • Craig1981

      The good thing about Hanifin playing in college istat it would allow you to start him in the AHL and recall if he is playing well……no need for a 9 game audition.

      But the flip side is you do burn a year of his ELC.

  • Craig1981

    The Gm’s from better teams are going to be using the Oilers as there development grounds for years to come, right now their just licking there chops so the Oilers core and the prospects contacts hit a cross roads so they get Hall or Dri at a good price or until we scrape goat one out of town.

    We need defense and a number one goalie.

  • Zarny

    McDavid and Eichel are clearly in a class by themselves. And one scout from CS commented that it took about a minute to debate McDavid-Eichel-Hanifin 1-2-3.

    The problem is the rest all have question marks. Scouts lament that despite 129 pts Strome does nothing to ‘wow’ you. With Marner it’s size. It’s almost a guarantee there will be others drafted that will become stars. They won’t be McDavid or Eichel but they’ll be incredibly good. The problem is guessing who as some outside McDavid-Eichel-Hanifin will also be misses or not quite live up to their draft status. That’s the legit concern with Crouse – good but not great.

    Which is why finishing 29-30th is best for the Oilers. I’d echo comments to consider Provorov with Strome and Marner.

    If the Oilers draft 4th or later my first choice would be to trade the pick. Even at 3 I’d shop the pick plus to see if OEL is available.

    • Zarny

      would you be concerned with Hanifin’s time frame? Defence is the hardest position to play and longest to develop. what does the oilers roster look like in 3-4 years when he’s about to hit his stride as a pro? will hall stick around? will eberle? nuge? they gotta get sick of losing at some point don’t they?

      with that in mind, and the history of numerous top drafted dmen never living up to expectations it kinda scares me to use the 3rd overall pick on a college dman. maybe I’m way off base, but he was underwhelming at the juniors, and the last decade of being an oiler fan has turned me into a complete cynic

    • ubermiguel

      anyone smarter then me and more interested in the draft know the break down of strome??

      he plays on the second line right? does that mean he gets the easier competition?

      he plays on the PP with mcdavid right? what are the break down on his points? did he score 5v5 against weaker comp or did he get his points on the PP playing with mcdavid?

  • Zarny

    @jazz hands

    Timing wouldn’t be much of factor in who I’d draft. I’d be focused on picking the best player with highest ceiling. Hanifin seems to be the consensus after McEichel but that’s why you have scouts.

    Timing in general is certainly starting to be a concern. It’s only been 5 years of losing for Hall & Eberle and 4 for Nuge so I don’t think they are in a position to be sick of anything yet but eventually it will be a factor.

    The team has to get better but draft picks normally take 3-5 years so immediate needs shouldn’t color your pick IMO. Timing could be an argument to trade the pick though.

    As for college D I think many are tainted by Schultz. Justin Faulk played college hockey. So did Jacob Trouba. They are doing fine. Hanifin accelerated his studies to play college hockey early and is excelling while being one of the youngest players (6th youngest I believe) in NCAA this year. Long term I don’t think it’s a concern.

  • jonnyquixote

    It looks like if we can’t get #1, finishing 3-5 (or maybe even 6 considering the late-charge Provarov is getting from the pundits) is pretty much irrelevant. The Oilers need big centers, the Oilers need feisty, speedy wingers, the Oilers need a d-man with #1 potential. So I guess the pressure is off. Que sera sera.

  • Namicus

    For what it’s worth Matt, I appreciate you using “McSavior” in your article as opposed to McJesus, which, as a Christian,I was finding pretty offensive.

  • Andresito

    Trade pick please if not top 2. Oliver ekman larsson. Cant wait 5years for strome to be ready. Hall and eberle etc will be 29 yesrs old by the time these new kids are ready

  • Centacre

    The potential wrench in your “Marner vs Strome” scenario is Christian Dvorak.

    Dvorak is a centre playing on the London Knights. He’s not draft eligible but why does he matter? He’s Mitch Marner’s centre for the London Knights. And he just put up 109 points in 66 games in his draft+1 year.

    Is he driving Marner? Is Marner driving him? It’s hard to say. But looking at the Mitch Marner highlight reel, I’ve easily been as impressed with Dvorak (who was a major factor in almost all of the plays) as I have with Marner. So although Strome has the McDavid bump, Marner has the Dvorak bump. But that’s not really why I think Dvorak is a factor.

    What matters is that Dvorak was an Arizona draft pick last year. You know, the Coyotes. The team drafting at #3 in the scenario Edmonton is #4. Home of good young defencemen and terrible forwards. If you were the Arizona Coyotes and you had a chance to draft a good young defenceman who might take 3 or 4 years to develop, or you could draft the dynamic scoring winger who with your 2nd round pick last year put up a total of 235 combined points in 66 games, would you not think twice about going with the defenceman? What if Marner goes elsewhere and Dvorak fizzles? What if they both fizzle when separated? When you have that kind of built-in chemistry, why not jump at the chance to have it in your organization?

    I think you have a better than average chance that Arizona takes Marner at #3 leaving Edmonton at 4 a choice between Strome and Hanifin. And I have no clue where they will go with that. Take Hanifin and wait for 3 years for a probable #2 dman, or take Strome and wait for 2 years for a probable second line centre.

  • Centacre

    If they don’t trade the first pick, and depending where they’d end up, a player like Provorov would be interesting. He is supposed to be the only NHL-ready D in the draft. Rantanen would be another interesting pick. 6’4, 210 lb RW/C playing in Europe which means he could go to the AHL next season.

    If the Oiler were patient, they could look to add Draisatl and Rantanen to the line-up in 2016.