A Draft Day Blueprint

Peter Chiarelli4

The NHL Entry Draft tends to be exciting not just because of the young players available for selection to the league’s 30 member clubs, but also because it’s a sort of unofficial summer trade deadline. There’s a clock on each of those draft picks, and each general manager has to decide whether to spend them on young prospects or trade them for immediate help.

A year ago, Edmonton decided to cash in a lot of its picks for immediate help. It would surprise absolutely nobody if the Oilers did so once again.

The 2015 Draft


Edmonton entered the draft with 10 selections and would end up keeping just four of them, though the Oilers added two more late picks via trade and would make six selections in all. The remainder of the team’s picks were expended in the search for immediate help:

  • Drafted centre Connor McDavid with the No. 1 pick.
  • Traded the No. 16 and No. 33 picks to the Islanders for defenceman Griffin Reinhart.
  • Traded the No. 57, No. 79 and No. 184 picks to the Rangers for goaltender Cam Talbot and No. 209 pick.
  • Traded the No. 86 pick to the Sharks as compensation for head coach Todd McLellan.
  • Traded Martin Marincin to the Maple Leafs for the No. 107 pick, then traded the No. 107 pick to the Senators for defenceman Eric Gryba.
  • Drafted defenceman Caleb Jones with the No. 117 pick.
  • Drafted defencemen Ethan Bear with the No. 124 pick.
  • Drafted defenceman John Marino with the No. 154 pick.
  • Traded a 2016 seventh-round selection to the Lightning for the No. 208 pick, then drafted goaltender Miroslav Svoboda.
  • Drafted defenceman Ziyat Paigin with the No. 209 pick.

The club had a number of objectives entering the draft, and accomplished several of them, addressing needs at centre, in net and behind the bench. It also replenished the prospect system on defence, adding a surprisingly good quartet of prospects with late selections.

The quest to immediately improve the blue line, on the other hand, must be regarded as a failure. Reinhart may well prove to be a superior player to Marincin down the line, but in 2015-16 Marincin did more to help his team win hockey games. Gryba added toughness and a right shot to the third pair, but the Oilers were already loaded with third pair defenders. Given the loss of the No. 16 and No. 33 picks to address the position, this was an unacceptably weak return.

2016 Draft Assets


Chiarelli’s shopping list this summer is less extensive than his list a year ago, with the most pressing item the need for one impact defenceman. He may want to add a second right-shooting rearguard, depth pieces up front and a backup goaltender to the mix, but it’s also possible that the team will address many of these needs via free agency.

He has a pretty decent collection of draft picks at his disposal:

  • First round. No. 4 overall. It’s not the McDavid selection, but it’s still extremely valuable.
  • Second round. No. 32 overall. Edmonton has the option of giving Boston this pick or its second-round selection in 2017 as compensation for the Chiarelli hiring. It’s virtually certain the club will move the 2017 pick, as this is basically a first-rounder.
  • Third round. Playoff results and compensatory picks mean we can’t definitively put numbers to these selections, but Edmonton has three choices: Its own pick and selections from Florida and Pittsburgh.
  • Later rounds. Edmonton has its own picks in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds, as well as the Blues’ fifth-round choice.

We should also remember that the Oilers have several roster players and prospects who could conceivably be moved either for picks or for immediate help. Players we should probably be talking about here include Nail Yakupov (2012 No. 1 still has some value), Lauri Korpikoski ($1.25 million cap hit if Oilers retain 50 percent), Anton Lander (ala Marincin a year ago), Mark Fayne ($1.813 million cap hit if Oilers retain 50 percent), Griffin Reinhart (2012 No. 4 pick could be flipped, and the Oilers’ bonus situation may make him more valuable to another team than to Edmonton) and David Musil (currently blocked and with his waiver exemption set to expire). These are all pieces that could be seen as expendable.

2016 Draft Plan

Peter Chiarelli3

What would a successful 2016 Draft for the Oilers look like? Something like this:

A top-pairing defenceman. This is where the No. 4 pick comes in. I don’t know if the answer here is to trade down, go 1-for-1, or build a package, but a trade built around this selection just makes sense to me. I’ve argued recently that it makes more sense for the Oilers to move this selection than it does to trade one of the team’s current NHL players; I still feel that way.

A third-line centre. Edmonton has three good centres, but it’s a decent bet that Leon Draisaitl will spend at least some time on the wing. Ideally, this player would be a right shot capable of moving to right wing; someone like Chicago’s Andrew Shaw would be an obvious fit. For a team in cap trouble, I wonder if Reinhart would work as a centerpiece; he’s a young NHL-ready defenceman with upside who on pretty much any other team is going to be dirt cheap.

Moving Korpikoski’s contract. Nothing fancy here; I envision something along the lines of Edmonton retaining 50 percent and shipping out of one of its fifth-round picks along with Korpikoski and bringing back a fourth-rounder.

Moving Yakupov for a decent return. Yakupov wanting out is old news at this point; the challenge for Edmonton is to get quality back. This might be a young player with warts, or it might be draft picks; one wonders a little if Chiarelli is thinking about the two second-rounders he paid for Brett Connolly while in Boston as a fair price.

A replenished prospect cupboard. Between the No. 32 pick, Edmonton’s three third-rounders and the return on Yakupov the Oilers should be able to significantly bolster the prospect pipeline, even if they ship the fourth overall selection out.

There would still be some slots to fill (third-line right wing, backup goalie in particular stand out, possibly an additional defender) in free agency, but those should be doable. A top defenceman is obviously the biggest need at the draft, and if the Oilers can add that player while also addressing centre, moving out a couple of deals and refilling a bare prospect cupboard it will have been a pretty good weekend for Chiarelli.


  • Ranchman

    Jonathan Willis:
    Given Oilers need for a top pairing RHD and the inevitable cost of same (if you can even find one), I was wondering if it might make sense for the Oil to make a bet on an unproven player with tremendous upside (similar to the Reinhart experiment). The player I’m most interested in seems to have been largely forgotten, Madison Bowey. He’s big, shoots right, tremendous skater, high skill, and relatively physical. He’s a year or two away but could quickly develop into a legit top pairing defenseman. Not sure what it would take to get him out of Washington. Maybe straight up for Yak. Washington has a history of success with Russian players and may warm to the prospect of getting Yak. I’m keen to get everyone’s thoughts on the matter….

    • HockeyYoda

      I’m glad you brought up Bowey. That was also the guy I was hoping they would go after last year. I liked Chirelli’s attempt to get a future top pairing D with high picks last year, I just didn’t like his choice of player as Reinhart was clearly trending down a bit.

      Nobody is going to trade you a Doughty or Keith. The only way to get one is to try and get a future one.

    • vetinari

      It has to be the Oilers pick unless the receiving team consents to a different second round selection. Few teams would accept, for example, the 57th pick overall in the 2016 draft when they could have the 32nd. Because the 2016 2nd round selection is so high (32nd), the Oilers will almost certainly keep it this year and use it to select a player or in a trade. The hope will be that 2017 will be a better season and therefore a worse pick to flip to Boston.

  • McRaj

    After a lot of research, I have come to the conclusion that the Oilers need to keep the pick. Reasons include: The Oilers prospect depth is bare. Chychrun is looking like he has bonafide #1 D-Man written all over him (whoever thinks Nurse or Klefbom have more potential are just homers). The expansion draft is coming and Eberle or Nuge have more value today then they would in June when we would have to dump somebody.

    Draft Chychrun, trade Eberle and another piece for Hamonic. Then trade Yak and Pouliot for Vatanen and a small add. Finally, go sign a winger (aim for Okposo). JW, you are right with showing how Chi town has been winning cups without size. But they also have not needed 5 “Elite” forwards either. You have McDavid running one line and Hall running another. Please people do not fall for the same thing and look to bring the damn core back.

    • Jason Gregor

      Chychrun’s biggest weakness is decision making. I have yet to speak with any scout who says he is a bonafide #1 Dman at the NHL level. He might become one, but he is far from a guarantee and is not ahead of Klefbom or Nurse at this point.

        • Keepyourstickontheice

          What scouts have you talked to Madjam? You seem over the moon for Chychrun, but the scouting reports I read on him have him cooling off in a lot of people’s expectations.

          I too hope the oilers find the defenceman of the future in this years draft, but I don’t think we need to necessarily use the #4 to find him. If Chiarelli repeats what he did this year and grabs 3 reasonable defencemen( bear, jones, paigat)in the later rounds, hopefully we can find a couple serviceable top 4 guys in there. We won’t know for 3-4 years but they look like good bets so far.

          • madjam

            Read over all the accolades under the heading Chychrun Scouting Reports on the internet for starters , and you’ll find several of them . Let me know what you think of all of them after you’ve done so .

    • Ed in Edmonton 1

      Chychrun is rated by some no better than 10th. Why is this better than Nurse who was taken 7th in a very good draft year. Taking Chhrycrun 4th would raise a good number of eyebrows.

    • daryl

      I agree but draft Dubois and trade for your dmen this is the last time in many many years we will draft this high and Dubois is 6’3″ who can play center and we will not have to protect him at the expansion draft.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    We need to trade talent to get talent, not a future superstar d-man in the making but defence man who can make and imminently impact might have to take on a big contract.

  • CLubhouse

    I agree with the sentiment that the core has to change. There is something wrong with he make up of the team and we know from watching games that this team does not compete as a unit. So I am up for anything that changes that mentality and a shake up of the old core is probably best way to accomplish this. It also puts a firm stamp that this is an all new era with Chia and Todd at the helm.

  • Ed in Edmonton 1

    Interesting all the love for Chychrun on here. Some have just sneaking into the top 10 with the Finnish Dman playing in the OHL universally rated above him. Chrychrun’s scouting reports are a lot like Nurse’s in his draft year.

    Next year will be Nurse’s D+4 and he hasn’t really established himself as a true NHL Damn. His last 30 games were not good at all and if it wasn’t for injuries and trades Nurse likely ends the year in the AHL. Nurse may become a top droor NHL Dman, he has all the tool. But the operative word is “may”.

    Don’t build up Chrychrun like he is a sure thing, he isn’t. Not many 18 year olds are.

  • CLubhouse

    SO heres what I do:

    Trade Hall & 2017 Pick unprotected : One of Karlsson, Peitrangelo, Subban coming back (Prefer Pietro, think he may be available cause of Parayko emergence. Hall would interest them they could leave steen unprotected at expansion and hes getting older not value anymore

    Trade Klefbom or Nurse: Hamonic Snow is going to be between a rock and hard place and I don’t see CAL, WIN or VAN making a better offer for Hamonic

    Trade Reinhart: Shaw should be enough better than any other offers to CHI

    Get rid of Korpi, Letetsu, Gazdic

    Draft – D or Big Center

    Drai RNH Yak
    Maroon Mcdavid Eberle
    Pou Shaw Kassian
    Khaira Hendricks Pakarainen

    Sekera Pietro
    Nurse Hamonic
    Davidson Gryba/Clendening/ whoever

    BOOM that’s a team all mixed up with cap space as well.

  • RJ

    So after a year of careful evaluation and reflection, Chiarelli’s best move is going to be to try to take offers for his top pick?

    Hey, Chiarelli, you don’t need to use the MacT/Tambo playbook. You can come up with something on your own.

  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    the Oilers have to take care of RHD D-man first.

    Trade Nurse and Fayne for Hamonic straight up. – ( Believe it or not Snow holds no cards here, Hamonic is not returning to NYI next year, he has to move him)

    I do make that deal As JW put forth Reinhart for Shaw straight up.

    I take a run at CBJ who are in the worst CAP hell out of any team in the league.

    Yakupov and Musil plus two 3rd rounders for Jenner..( Jenner can and has played all three positions)

    Also, I would pick NYR pocket for Kreider, ether by offer sheet or picks and Pouliot

    Sign Demers.

    Last, I take one huge run at Pietrangelo offering the 4th and Eberle and UFA hunting Okposo

    Maroon – McDavid – Okposo

    Hall – RNH – Draisaitl

    Kreider – Shaw – Jenner

    Klefbom – Pietrangelo

    Sekera – Hamonic

    Davidson – Demers

    I’m not sure that’s unrealistic given the extreme CAP issues of those teams.

    Yes the forth line would be Hedricks – Lander – Kassian

      • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

        Explain the 80?

        Kreider is 2.5

        Jenner is 2.5

        Shaw is 2.5

        Demers is 3.6

        Pietrangelo is 5

        – Nurse 900
        – Eberle 6 million
        – Fayne 4 million
        – Korpikoski 2.7 or half 1.5
        – Reinhart 1 million
        – Yakupov 2.5 million

        That’s 15.5 million with an additional 12 million in cap space

        More than enough to sign those players, even if you gave each of those players 5 each and Okposo getting 6

        Obviously not all would get 5 each, so as you can see there is more than enough cap space.

        Even minus a player it’s doable

    • Bondo11

      The Oil would easily be in the playoffs with those moves.

      We’d have to start calling Chiarelli “God”, if he came anywhere close to pulling off all those moves!

      I could realistically see 1/2 of these moves though –

      Acquire Hamonic, Demers, Shaw, & Okposo.

      • daryl

        You did watch the Oilers last year right why in gods name would you have Landers center anything? As to your point yes Snow has to move Hamonic and would trade for him not sure about Nurse but trade for him even if it means taking salary back.

  • Gordie Wayne

    Not sure if it has been asked, but do the Oilers have to give up their own 2nd round pick to Boston for the Chia hiring or can it be any 2nd round pick that they may acquire in a trade?

    If so, they could swap a 3rd round pick (plus, say a 7th rounder) with another teams late 2nd rounder and give that one to Boston.

  • oilerjed

    Just read the article, good read. Lets get the playoffs over already so Chia can get on with it!

    With the Islanders wanting a dman back, does Reinhart + Yak + 2nd get you Hamonic?

  • daryl

    Keep the pick and take Dubois we end up with a big center that has speed trade for our RH dmen and put Draisailt in the mix. Do not draft a Dman first they are all LH and second they are not rated anywhere close to Dubois who has really improve this season and is trending up he maybe even better than the two Fins.