Fans of the Edmonton Oilers will be fist-pumping until they need Tommy John surgery when GM Peter Chiarelli calls Connor McDavid’s name with the first overall pick at the NHL Entry Draft Friday, and rightfully so. That goes without saying.
For the first time in a long time, however, Oiler fans are likely to get some actual news leading up to Chiarelli vaulting the podium beyond standard fare in the form of speculation about trying to move up or down in the first round or that there’s some doubt who the Oilers will take with their pick.
That fodder called for by editors across the continent fills column inches, but as somebody who covered the draft for decades, I can attest it seldom leads to much — outside of getting in the way of dinner plans and debauchery for the masses covering the event, held this year in Sunrise, Florida.
For the Oilers, the 2015 lead up to the selection of McDavid will have some teeth. Chiarelli has already telegraphed that, suggesting there’s a pretty good chance the Oilers will round-out Todd McLellan’s coaching staff and make a move to land a goaltender before the teams meet on the draft floor Friday. It’s just a matter of getting the names to fill in the blanks.
“I would hope that we have two additional assistants before Friday,” Chiarelli said of rounding out McLellan’s staff Monday. “I would think that we would, based on my discussions.”
What we know about that is Jay Woodcroft, who worked with McLellan in Detroit and spent seven years with him in San Jose, will be one of the names we hear in the next 48 hours or so. McLellan made that clear even before he was named Edmonton’s coach.
I mentioned Jim Johnson, another assistant to McLellan in San Jose, as a likely candidate to join Edmonton’s staff back on May 26 in this item. Since then, Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED has also suggested Johnson might be in the running, so that’s a name we could hear before Friday.
We’ve learned in recent days the Oilers have approached the Ottawa Senators for permission to talk to Paul MacLean. MacLean, as you likely know, spent three seasons with McLellan in Detroit on Mike Babcock’s staff, so there’s a connection there worth noting. Is it Johnson or MacLean? Maybe both? We’ll find out soon enough.
STOP RIGHT THERE
Chiarelli went on at great length Monday about a goaltender. Everybody’s ears perked up when he suggested he might be able to take care of that bit of pressing business before hitting the draft floor as well. A snippet of that:
“This goalie thing we’ve been looking at it very closely and it’s tough,” he said. “You see some of the trades of goalies in the past, you don’t know how they’re going to pop. We ended up getting (Tuukka) Rask in Boston and we were able to bring him along slowly until he was ready. Sometimes you’re not. At the same time we weren’t able to bring Michael Hutchinson along slowly and he popped for Winnipeg.”
Added Chiarelli: “It’s a real inexact science and you’ve really got to go to the character of the goalie and how the team’s going to play defensively, My guess is we’ll probably be able to do something before the draft but I’m not completely sure.”
My guess is Chiarelli isn’t guessing about anything, although it doesn’t serve any purpose to disclose who he’s zeroing in on. The names we know – Cam Talbot and Eddie Lack are the hottest commodities, although not the only ones. Who it will be and what the eventual price will be has been the subject of debate and speculation for weeks. New York GM Glen Sather has said he’s already turned down two second-round draft picks for Talbot.
The way I see it, there’s nobody among the goaltenders available who is worth Edmonton’s pick in the 16 slot in a draft this deep. My guess is it’ll take the 33rd pick and a young prospect, somebody like Martin Marincin (46th overall in 2010), to land Talbot.
Unless Chiarelli is making the mistake of over-promising a without having a deal on the table – I don’t think he is — we’ll know who fills the hole in goal, what the price was along with what McLellan’s coaching staff will look like before the McDavid celebration begins. Real news.
THE OILER PICKS
ROUND 1 – 1st
ROUND 1 – 16th (from PIT)
ROUND 2 – 33rd
ROUND 2 – 57th (from MTL)
ROUND 3 – 79th (from OTT)
ROUND 3 – 86th (from STL)
ROUND 4 – 117th (from MTL)
ROUND 5 – 124th
ROUND 6 – 154th
ROUND 7 – 184th
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.