We are 26 days away from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and more importantly, the timeline when Peter Chiarelli will have the best opportunity to re-shape his roster. The prospect of trading for a competent, top-four, right-shot defender is most likely to happen right before, or at, the draft on Friday, June 24th.
We’ve already seen one trade involving a RD — Erik Gudbranson to Vancouver — so Chiarelli could make a move prior to the 24th, but everyone around the league knows what he wants, and the NHL often functions on last-minute trades, signings and CBA negotiations.
I don’t buy Chiarelli is dealing from a position of weakness just because everyone knows what he is looking for. He has some very attractive forwards that teams want and the fourth overall pick.
Players like Tyson Barrie, Jason Demers, Sami Vatanen, Justin Faulk, Jacob Trouba will be sought after this off-season. Demers is the lone UFA, and obvious choice as one who will change jerseys this summer, but the others could be moved for the right price.
In April Chiarelli said, “I’m reasonably confident I will be able to address our defence in a meaningful way.” He has been working the phones and talking to GMs ever since. He’s been through this dance a few times, and I’m curious to see who he acquires. He will sign or trade for one right defender, but if he can land two quality RD then the Oilers have a chance to be competitive next season.
- Matthew Tkachuk had a great Memorial Cup, and because he was in the spotlight I’ve noticed many now believe he has to be the choice at #4. I caution that thinking. Scouts evaluate on the entire season, not just the final few games. Having spoke with over 10 different amateur scouts, it is obvious there is no consensus #4 overall selection.
Tkachuk has been a quality player all season long, but so too have the other players ranked in the top-ten. Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mikhail Sergachev, Olli Juolevi, Alex Nylander, Jacob Chyhrun and Micheal McLeod are all enticing. So are many other players who will be drafted outside the top-ten and in the second and third rounds.
I understand why people get excited after watching Tkachuk’s Memorial Cup performance, but the scouts try hard not to let it influence their overall assessments. You can’t punish players who played on inferior teams and haven’t been in the spotlight for weeks or months.
When you watch prospects keep in mind scouts aren’t just drafting them on their ability — they analyze every aspect of their game in the hopes of understanding how it will translate against the best players in the world. It is quite ridiculous when you think about it, projecting how an 18 year-old will fare against bigger, stronger and more experienced men.
The reality is there are no guarantees. Scouts spend all season gathering as much information so they can make the most educated projection, but there are so many uncontrolled variables that can occur before a player plays in the NHL (excluding the rare 1% of elite players), that they understand mistakes will be made. You just hope your scouting staff makes a few great picks.
- I’ll take the Sharks in five. The Sharks made a very strong St. Louis blueline look average in the Western Conference Final, and I expect them to dominate the Pens’ defence. The Pens have had an excellent run, but Joe Thornton will hoist the Cup for the first time in his outstanding career.
- I would have picked Taylor Hall to make team Canada, yet I didn’t expect him to make the team. But I’m more surprised Corey Perry and Phil Kessel didn’t make it for Canada and the United States. The USA must believe they can “out grind” teams in the tournament. I’d rank Kessel as the third most skilled American forward behind Patrick Kane and Joe Pavelski, and it is absurd to not have him on the team.
- I’m sure Hall is disappointed, but he should remember Steve Yzerman made his first appearance for Canada when he was 31. Yzerman and many other great players have been overlooked for Canada’s National team.
HELP US OUT
We have 18 spots remaining in our WSOP charity tournament. First place receives a trip to Las Vegas a seat at the WSOP and $3,500 in cash. I really would like to sell this out, since it will raise over $5000 for charity if we do. If you want to play sign up here, and if you don’t play or can’t do us a solid and send it to your friends who play. Thanks.
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