The Oilers and their fans were ecstatic to draft Jesse Puljujarvi at #4. It was unexpected as many presumed he would go third to Columbus, but the Blue Jackets really liked centre Pierre-Luc Dubois and tthey took him allowing Edmonton to land the 6’4″, 208 pound right winger.
It was a successful day draft wise, but GM Peter Chiarelli still hasn’t acquired a defenceman. Will tomorrow be the day?
Chiarelli is still confident he’ll acquire a D-man.
“Today there was only one deal (for a Dman) involving our pick,” Chiarelli said after the first round was complete. “It doesn’t really change it (search for a Dman) that much. You tend to build momentum in these
deals and you want to get them done on draft day. But it is not
essential it gets done on draft day if it doesn’t involve the pick and
that is what happened. It will be a good discussion day tomorrow. Maybe
it is a little less stressful, so we can focus on player for player
trades,” said Chiarelli.
A source close to the Oilers confirmed they have had talks with both the St.Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. Kevin Shattenkirk, Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba have been discussed. I got the sense Dumba was the more likely target than Brodin, but things can change.
I can also tell you the Oilers won’t make a deal involving Shattenkirk for one of their $6 million forwards, unless they can discuss a contract extension first. They will not give up those assets for a player with only one year remaining on his deal, unless they are certain he’ll re-sign.
I was told there have been other discussions, but the source didn’t want to say with which teams, however it sounds like a deal with another team is just as likely than with the ones mentioned above. Chiarelli is clearly doing his due diligence with every team. He will continue to have discussions as he is well aware of the need to improve his defence.
He doesn’t want to rely on free agency either. There is no guarantee he will get the player he wants for the price he is willing to pay, although discussions with unrestricted free agents began at 10 p.m MST tonight and that could give some teams a better picture of how their rosters could look in October.
- Puljujarvi played in Europe last year, so the Oilers have the option of having him start the season in the AHL. I asked Chiarelli about this scenario.
“When I was in Boston we did it with (David) Pastrnak and it worked out pretty well. I really haven’t thought much about it, and we talked about certain scenarios when we interviewed him and we will talk about it more later.”
This past season Mikko Rantanen, the 10th pick in 2015, spent the majority of the season in the AHL. He played six games in the NHL, had no points, and was sent to the AHL where he scored 60 points in 52 games. It is a nice option to have for Chiarelli.
I realize Rantanen wasn’t as highly-touted as Puljujarvi, but he excelled in the AHL and the Avs are confident he’ll be better prepared for the NHL this year. If Puljujarvi proves he is ready, then he can stick, but if they feel a few games in the AHL will help him adjust to the smaller ice surface and style of play a bit easier, then they should take advantage of being able to send him down.
- What does Puljujarvi do best?
“I like his big, strong stride,” began Chiarelli. “He protects the puck very well. He shoots in traffic, and he can make plays too. Maybe he is little more of play maker than a shooter, but he has a real good wrist shot. He is a very versatile player. You don’t accomplish what he has accomplished at the men’s level and the International level without being a really good player. He does all of this and he is a big, strong body, which I like,” Chiarelli said.
- Looking ahead to tomorrow. The Oilers have the 2nd pick in round two. I know they really like Edmonton product Tyler Benson. He is a strong candidate to be taken 32nd. Pascal Laberge is another candidate. I’d be surprised if Chiarelli drafted diminutive Alex Debrincat. The Oilers do not have many skilled young forwards in the pipeline.
They drafted four D-men and a goalie last year after taking Connor McDavid first overall. Their organizational defensive depth chart is young and much deeper with Darnell Nurse, Griffin Reinhart, Dillon Simpson, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, John Marino, Ziyat Paigan and William Lagesson.
Their most skilled young forwards are all in the NHL. Kyle Platzer has potential, and they have some big bodies in Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev and Bogdan Yakimov, but overall they do not have many skilled forwards who could help the team in four or five years. Look for them to use their 2nd round pick and their three 3rd round choices on skilled forwards and a goaltender.
- You can listen to live Day Two draft coverage on TSN 1260 starting at 8 a.m. MST. Two local players were drafted tonight, Tyson Jost and Sam Steele, but there is a good chance five or six more will hear their names tomorrow. You can read about them here.
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