There has been a lot of discussion about the Oilers need to get their hands on an offensive d-man, preferably one that was forced to shoot right as a child.
Last week I took a look at some options for the Oilers if they were willing to move their 1st round pick in exchange for some immediate help. This week I think it’s important to expand on what Peter Chiarelli had to say at his year-end presser when asked about moving that pick. “There’s a whole cluster of D that I like,” is what Chiarelli answered when Jim Matheson asked him if he would move the pick.
I’m going to take a look at which player’s likely fall into that cluster but first you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. Is it smart for the Oilers to move the first rounder for immediate help on the blueline? Or would it be better to draft an offensive defenseman that can be a part of McDavid’s core group for the next decade? As you sit there and ponder that I’ll give you a quick look at the defenseman that the POHO (President of Hockey Operations) was likely talking about.
(2nd European Skater – NHL Central Scouting)
5’11, 168, BYRNAS JR(SWEDEN) – Shoots Right
Boqvist, not unlike most young defenseman, still has some work to do defensively but his offensive upside is through the roof. He has all of the tools the Oilers would be looking for in an offensive blueliner. The young Swede has one of the hardest shots in the draft and isn’t afraid to let it fly on the power-play. In addition to a booming shot, he also has a set of hands that would be described as outstanding for any player regardless of position. I think Boqvist’s offensive upside isn’t being talked about as much as it should be due to some other Swede named Rasmus Dahlin, you may have heard of him, stealing the spotlight.
(4th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)
6’2, 193, London Knights (OHL) – Shoots Right
Bouchard is the highest scoring draft eligible defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League this year. One Ontario based scout I talked to described Bouchard as a highly intelligent d-man in both ends of the rink. He isn’t afraid to jump up into the rush offensively and has good instincts in the d-zone as well. I’ve heard mixed reports on his skating but he does have a size advantage over some of his peers on this list. He is ranked in the top ten by almost every scouting service, I’m not sure he will be on the board at nine for the Oilers.
(5th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)
6’3, 180, Acadian-Bathurst(QMJHL) – Shoots Right
Dobson doesn’t appear to be as much of a pure offensive threat as a few others on this list but is projected to develop into a well-rounded blueliner. His shot is more accurate than is it powerful which isn’t always a bad thing. He may be the most defensively sound defender in this group yet he was still over a point per game this season. Multiple scouting reports say he could use a little work on his top end speed; which would likely help his offensive upside at the next level.
(6th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)
5’9, 170, Michigan Wolverines(NCAA) – Shoots Left
If you are looking for a d-man who is calm under pressure and can make a great first pass then Hughes fits the bill. For the most part, he never looked rattled as a freshman in Michigan. He’s creative offensively and is an elite skater; which has allowed him to control the game at times. He does shoot left but one scout told me that he is very good on the backhand so I wonder if he could eventually work his way to the right side in Edmonton.
(11th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)
5’11, 184, Soo Greyhounds(OHL) – Shoots Left
I wouldn’t call Sandin a late bloomer but he would likely be considered the sleeper of this group. The Swede has quietly put up good offensive numbers on the best junior team in the country. He plays in all situations for the Greyhounds. He hasn’t lit the world on fire offensively at international competitions but I believe he’s a guy who is just coming into his own. Sandin burst onto the scene playing alongside Boqvist at the Ivan Hlinka last year and his stock has only gone up since then. I could see huge numbers for him next season in the Ontario Hockey League.
(14th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)
5’10, 176, Spokane Chiefs(WHL) – Shoots Left
Ty Smith is so good offensively that his ability to defend probably gets overlooked. The 1st overall Bantam Pick in 2015 has always been deadly in the offensive zone but has really developed into a great two-way d-man during his time in Spokane. He has a great stick and a high hockey IQ; which leads to strong positioning defensively. He doesn’t have a booming shot like some of the others on this list but can a run a power-play just as good as any of them. The Oilers are very familiar with Smith and a number of my fellow members of the local media seem to be pushing for him to end up in Edmonton.
This is how I would have them ranked based on the Oilers current needs.
The bad news is that two or three of these players will already be off the board by the time the Oilers head to the podium in Dallas. The good news is that at least half of these players will be a viable option on draft day.
Once again you have to ask the question. Would you rather have a veteran in their late twenties on the verge of passing through their prime or an 18-year old that you could have under control for close to a decade?
As fun as trades are, calling one of these names in Dallas may be the best idea for the Oilers end goal of Stanley Cups while Connor McDavid is on board.