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).

STROME

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.

MARNER

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
level.

SIT BACK AND ENJOY THE RIDE

relax

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.


    • Hall, Eberle, Yak, and Pouliot should be here for another 5 years at least and taking the 4 W spots on the big lines. When we’re talking about a top 5 pick we’re talking about someone who can be on the top 6. Those spots are taken and 3/4 by very young players.

      I sincerely doubt Marner will need 2 more years in Jr and another 2 in the AHL.

      • Rob...

        Fair enough Matt. I suppose leaving some in juniors to develop and a year in the AHL is not very Oilersesque. I understand this article is not really about that and honestly I prefer the center over the winger from a value standpoint AND a depth standpoint only because moving a center for a winger is much easier than the reverse.

        All things being equal I’m just praying we win the lottery and get McJesus. 🙂

          • pkam

            I guess my previous dream is not big enough.

            I pray not only the Pens miss the playoff and win the lottery, but somehow we finish last so we end up with the top 2 picks.

            And the Habs go to the conference final so the conditional pick turns into a 3rd rounder, then Petry signs with us for 4.0M on July 1st.

          • Rob...

            Can you imagine, especially if the ballots go in with the original team’s name on it, and the Pens ballot is drawn? There would be riots on Pittsburgh streets and Perron would become the most hated player on the team through no fault of his own.

  • TKB2677

    With the exception of Eberle, we don’t have a player who can dangle. Remember when Hemsky used to get us out of our seats with his rushes? It hasn’t been a player type that the Oilers typically covet. Yet I would love to see a player like Jonny Hockey/Patrick Kane in Edmonton. These guys are electric. If Marner lives up to his hype, he is exactly the type of player you can support with a big centre. All this talk about us being unable to compete in the big, bad West has made us believe there is only one way to succeed. I think this is overstated given how LA/SJ are currently playing – and how the Canucks/Flames are bucking the trend. I’d rather see years of exciting hockey with marginal success (e.g. Penguins) versus years of success with marginal hockey (e.g. LA, Jersey).

    • The scouts have failed....

      I get where your coming from for the excitement factor, but the cold reality is winning matters and 2 cups in 3 years is something i would take any day of the week over seeing a guy split a defender once every 25 games for a pretty goal.

  • 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.

  • TKB2677

    If they Oilers are drafting out of the top 3 and it is Strome or Marner, they have no choice but to draft the bigger guy. They severely lack skilled size in their top 6 and playing in the western conference, that is a must. All they have coming for skilled size is Drasaitl. Nuge is skinny and is as big as he is going to get. Hall is ok size but not big. Eberle is small. Yak is small. 1 guy isn’t enough. Like it or not, you have to have a few guys that will be over 200lbs. Plus unless a winger is light years better than a center, you always take the center first. Worst case scenario, you play a center on the wing. It’s pretty difficult to play a winger at center.

    If I am the Oilers, unless you get the #1 and can draft McDavid, I would trade that pick. You can get a hell of a lot for that pick in this draft. By trading that pick, you could fill several holes with good players. They need help now, not 3 years from now.

  • freelancer

    Hey Matt, what if we could make a trade to get another pick in the top 10? Then we could pick up someone like Strome and still be able to pick up your favourite prospect Crouse too!

      • Randaman

        I have heard and or read a few articles that Provorov may be the best defenseman available.
        I have serious misgivings about Hannifin a I have no faith in the US college program.

        Not enough games each season to compare to CHL,

        Weaker competition overall,

        Justin Schultz,

        I rest my case! FIX THE DEFENCE

    • 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.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    We get an elite center or Dman prospect drafting as late as 6th. I think Hanifan has potential to drop a spot or two. He doesnt get the chance to add to his stock in the Memorial Cup like the other two will.

    In order of preference….

    1. Trade the pick in a package including Hanzal

    2. Trade the pick in a package including O’Reilly

    3. Hanifan

    4. Strome

    Lottery picks are so damn shiny in the summer. This is the year to fix the second line center once and for all.

  • TKB2677

    If I am the Oilers, I am trading my #3 or #4 which is most likely what they will end up with and trading down for a mid round 1st, a top 4 Dman and a prospect. Then I am using one of my later round 1st’s and getting a young goalie.

  • 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.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    This is gonna draw a LOT of “Trashes”, but….

    IF the Oil are NOT picking in the top 3, you do what you can to TRADE* the pick for some help on the blue.

    * Don’t ask who I’d trade it for, but Dammit….I’m STILL waiting for some #BoldMoves.

    • CMG30

      Not a bad idea. At some point the Oilers are going to have to trade something of value for real immediate help on the blue because drafting and developing defense men is a long term proposition. The Oilers need to start showing improvement now because the fans are fed up and the players have to be fed up. How long can this freakshow continue to be sustainable? Even Toronto ended its crazy-long sellout streak the other day.

      If the right player can be plucked from a cap team MacTavish would be crazy not to make that deal. I guess the only problem is whether or not you trust MacTavish to be able to identify actual defensive talent.

  • 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.

  • MGD

    Fist of all, f the Oilers do pick from these two boys, there will still be people screaming at what an awful pick the Oilers made – just look at last year’s draft. While Marner may make that Eberle trade in a couple years easier to take, the Oilers really should keep stock piling the big centers – a good one will get you a better return than Ebs will down the road.

  • DO NOT CARE! The problem with the Oilers isn’t their young stars and adding one more won’t solve that problem. It’s roster balance, the D and the G (personally I tend to believe Scrivens/Fasth would be an OK tandem on a defensively responsible team).

  • vetinari

    Also, in what world are the pens not making the playoffs. By my math Washington, Ottawa, and Boston, would all need to end up with more points in order for that to be a reality.

    With 8 games left, does anyone really see Boston closing a 7 point gap? Actually, since the pens have 40 regulation wins and the B’s only have 36, they would need to clear the pens outright, so like 8 points.

    It’s not happening.

    It is pretty crazy that the Bruins are not going to make the show this year. That team is in real trouble.

      • Andresito

        Apologies, I did not realize we were dreaming at this point. Then yes, let us go with, Pens go on an underrepresented loosing streak just as Arizona and Buffalo go on a winning streak. Edmonton, last overall, even though they managed to win a game here and there down the stretch, specifically games that eliminate Calgary from the playoffs as well. Then, the Penguins win the Lottery, giving Edmonton the top two selections. There’s a riot at the owners meeting and the rest of the league murders Gary Betman ala Tommy Lee Jones in Natural Born Killers. This in turn leads them to uncover secret plans for even more sunbelt expansions, which the owners quickly dispel. They then decide it’s high time to move some of the money losing teams back north, thus making hockey better than ever.

        With the top two picks, Oilers select McDavid, but trade Eichle out east for (insert top pair right side defenceman here).

        All of this, of course occurs whilst I simultaneously win the lottery, and break the world record for most BJ’s received in a calendar year.

        • pkam

          I don’t care about Bettman or Sunbelt expansion.

          But lets pray that 2nd overall is traded not to the east but Central division for that top pair right side defenseman.

          And you can win the lottery everyday but it is not in my dream or prayer.

      • TKB2677

        It took a while, but yes. See my above dream prediction. I only put this up cause someone respectable on twitter also mentioned this today. So I thought maybe there was a chance of this actually happening. Then I looked at the standings.

  • 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

    • 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.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Oh no, we’re winning! Jeez…

    At least it’s a deep draft and we’ll get a solid player even if we draft at #5.

    I had the same thinking in 2013. MacKinnon was a solid 1st overall – almost a generational talent in himself. He was projected to be so much better than the 3 #1’s we got. But it was a deep draft and we got Nurse, who’s on track and looking like a solid, solid pick.

    I feel confident in drafting #4-5 in this draft.

  • Armchair_Gm

    Maybe you trade down slightly and draft provorov or werenski. Defense is still a huge weakness and I think getting one of those two players would be huge. And I love Jansen Harkins with the Pittsburgh pick. He’s absolutely killing it in prince George.

    They need a stratergy, Maybe go hard after defense and maybe two goalies. They shouldn’t be trading picks I know its tough but the best teams all built through the draft and that’s the way Edmonton will do it as well

  • Chainsawz

    This blog was less depressing than I thought it would be.

    I’ve been settled on the prospect of drafting Strome for some time now and unless the lottery favours us once more, I’m more than happy to have him added to the fold.

    A Nuge-Drai-Strome-Lander center corps could be lethal in 3 seasons. Just sad that’s probably a realistic time line to see playoff NHL hockey in our city again.