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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

    • 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. 🙂

          • 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.

          • 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...

    Pittsburgh is sitting 9th in the league standings right now and I think is more likely to fall than gain. This excites me when it comes to that second first round pick.

  • Rob...

    If the Oilers draft outside of the first 2 positions in the draft they do not need to hit a mammoth home run with their pick. What they need to do is obtain a very good hockey player to fill one of their gaping holes.

    As long as the Oilers accomplish this, their pick will have been a good one. Ideally I would love for them to win the lottery but, even if they don’t, they can still walk away as a much improved hockey team.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • vetinari

    Deep draft so even if we pick somewhere between 3-5, there are still solid players available, just take a defenceman or centre and don’t go stupid off the board.

    Just a thought: my hope is that we get the #1 pick and take McDavid, but if we somehow land either him or Eichel, in three years, we are going to have some hard core cap issues: Hall, Eberle, RNH, and likely Schultz, Yakupov, Nurse and Draisatl will be off (or close to off) their current deals and likely looking for some significant paydays and we likely can’t pay everyone an average of $6M/year on their contracts. Either the cap needs to keep climbing, or we have to get some guys on “value” contracts or cash some of these guys in for players on value contracts.

  • Even with the gap closing between us and Toronto, I look at the schedule and I do not see Toronto catching the Oilers.

    So, even if they pick 4th, then they are deciding between the top OHL point getter, who has had a good deal many more points than any first overall selection in the last few years, and is a big centre. Or we pick the best defenceman available, and have yet another top defensive prospect on the left side who will one day come to the team and not have a veteran mentor on the right side.

    This is honestly the easiest draft Edmonton has ever done. No matter where they draft, 1,2,3, or 4th, they can’t miss.

    Having said that I am still pulling for Storme. I would say Galchenyuk looks like a good comparable. Only this kid will eventually be a lot bigger.

  • 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.

  • Namicus

    Why aren’t Werenski or Provorov mentioned in this article?

    – Werenski is a 6.01′, 206 pound 2-way defenseman that has actually produced more offensively in college than Hanafin; is said to be more physical than Hanafin; and played on a defensive pairing for team USA at the world juniors with Hanafin. Why is Werenski not talked about as a serious candidate to go in the top 5, or as a possible Oilers pick?

    – Provorov was arguably the best draft eligible defenseman playing in the CHL this year. Why is he never mentioned as a top 5 pick, or a serious candidate for the Oilers to select?

    The bottom of the NHL standings is mostly a laundry list of teams without a good #1 defenseman. If the Oilers pick in the 4-5 range… Why wouldn’t they be looking more at players like Werenski or Provorov instead of guys like Mariner of Strome?

    This article is silly anyways because I guarentee that McDavid and Eichel will be drafted in the top 2 picks… And I’m pretty sure that Arizona is NOT taking a defenseman if someone else wins the lottery and they pick 3rd. Arizona already has OEL and desperately needs a top centre like Strome for the future. Hanifin will still probably be there at 4.


  • 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.

  • 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).

  • paul wodehouse

    This should be the year of “drafting defencemen”……..after watching our Norris defenceman I think we need to upgrade.

    Hanifin and Provorov should be targeted. If we end up with no defenceman in the funnel, we will keep paying for this for years to come.

    Where is the wisdom?

  • ubermiguel

    As much as I love all the fantasy scenarios involving Pittsburgh winning the lottery and BJs, Strome all the way if it’s between him and an under-sized winger. The only question is when will he be NHL ready? If it’s between Strome and Hanifin then that’s a tough choice, but I still go with Strome because we need NHL players NOW and the defenseman will likely need more development time.