Oilers fans are just over a week away from screaming their brains out as Connor McDavid is announced as the latest No. 1 overall selection in team history. It will be an astonishing moment, one we will remember for the rest of our lives. It’s easy then to overlook another major moment, same night. What to do at No. 16?
NEXT FRIDAY NIGHT!
The start of next Friday night’s draft from Sunrise should be fairly predictable. Edmonton drafts Connor McDavid, then Buffalo selects Jack Eichel. After that things may get a little crazy. First of all, Arizona could trade the pick but if they don’t will likely choose between big skill C Dylan Strome and exceptional defender Noah Hanifin. Toronto follows and they may choose Mitch Marner or the player Arizona leaves behind.
The bottom line: As Bob McKenzie has stated for some time, eleven names are extremely likely to go off the board in the first 11 selections. They are McDavid, Eichel, Hanifin, Marner, Strome, Pavel Zacha, Lawson Crouse, Ivan Provorov, Mathew Barzal, Mikko Rantanen, Zach Werenski. Rest assured, if ANY of those players make it to No. 16, the Oilers will race to the podium.
McKenzie’s 12-15: Timo Meier, Kyle Connor, Jakub Zboril, Travis Konecny.
Others who have been mentioned ‘in the range’ are
- Denis Guryanov (skill W, Red Line really likes him)
- Jeremy Roy (he has some speed issues but is a dynamic defenseman)
- Nick Merkley (his considerable skill was on display at the Memorial Cup)
- Ilya Samsonov (ranked by many as best G in the draft)
- Thomas Chabot (D spiked in a big way during the season)
- Jakub Zboril (Impressive range of skills, plays with an edge)
- Oliver Kylington (fast defender with some chaos)
- Evgeny Svechikov (big and skilled)
I really like Svechnikov:
and Oliver Kylington
But what I’m really a fan of is the anticipation of that No. 16 pick. If the first 11 names are off the board, are there five more names Edmonton values in a big way? If Svechnikov, Meier, Merkley and Konecny are gone, does Edmonton pull the trigger on a prospect or:
- Trade down
- Trade out, addressing defense or goal
Ideally, a very good player gets past Calgary (this would require two excellent players to fall because the Flames won’t be doing any favors for Edmonton) and the Oilers score big. One thing I’m not in favor of: trading down UNLESS the offer is insane (No. 21 and No. 35, that kind of thing—which is pretty close to the Riley Nash trade btw).
WORST POSSIBLE RESULT
If we get to that 16th pick and Edmonton pauses but decides to make a pick, the only possible negative would occur if the club goes walkabout. They HAVE done it previously this century, famously with Jesse Niinimaki and that Riley Nash pick wasn’t exactly a consensus first rounder, either.
What would a bad pick at No. 16 look like? Any goalie, a defenseman who isn’t a splendid offensive player, a two-way player who doesn’t deliver enough offense and any skater who has legit foot speed issues. Do NOT reach for a Coke Machine, Bob Green!!! Let them come to you.
I’d like to suggest two players who might end up being excellent additions but are somewhat outside the consensus at No. 16. First, Jansen Harkins. He’s my favorite normal human in the draft: Great hands, intelligent, and a very good passer. He’s fun to watch because everything looks natural, as reflected in this video:
and Joel Eriksson-Ek. If you watch the video, it’s impressive to see just how often he’s in the right place at the right time. Isn’t shy about contact either. I love watching guys who keep their feet moving and this guy plays well offensively and defensively.
I can’t wait. I have my beer in the fridge (bought it this morning, it won’t age too much in a week) and have the PVR wiped clean (I tape the draft and watch it probably dozens of times. If Mrs. Lowetide ever leaves me, and God knows she has cause, the 400th time I watch the draft in the month of August will be it).
I’m not going to predict (because I suck at it) but would love to hear your predictions for next Friday night. What do you think they’ll do?