What’s up Nation! Draft correspondent Dustin Nielson here on my way down to Dallas to cover the draft for the Nation. Starting on Thursday morning I will have daily videos and multiple articles documenting the Oilers trip to the 2018 NHL Draft.
As I sit here at the international side of the Vancouver Airport I can only think one thing. Why in the hell is there only one bar in this place? It’s called the Canucks Bar and Grill and it’s jammed right now.
To my left, there is a woman that has more ink than aisle two at Staples and could very likely leg press me. On my right, a pilot, I don’t know if he’s my pilot but I have confirmed that he’s not boozing.
It’s kind of funny to think that I’m writing this in Vancouver and it’s the Canucks 7th overall pick that could really open things up for the Oilers. I know Craig Button had Adam Boqvist going to the Canucks which would open up someone like Evan Bouchard, Noah Dobson or maybe even Oliver Wahlstrom to slide to the Oilers at ten. My final mock draft will be posted first thing on Friday morning and it will most certainly be wrong, just like every other one.
It could end up being a very busy few days for Peter Chiarelli so here is a look at what I think his top priorities should be over the next 72 hours.
1. CHOOSE WISELY
This event is called the 2018 NHL Draft not the 2018 Trade For A D-Man so the main focus needs to be not screwing up the 10th overall pick. With the way this year’s draft is set up, the Oilers are in a very good spot with the 10th pick. I’ve been covering NHL drafts since 2006 and not once have nine top-ranked prospects all been drafted in the first nine picks.
There will be a team that surprises everyone in the top nine which means that one of Bouchard, Dobson, Hughes or Wahlstrom could very well be available at ten for the Oilers. The annual volatility of the top ten is the main reason Chiarelli should hang on to the 10th pick, at least until they are on the clock. This first priority is the one that all of you should feel pretty good about. The P.O.H.O. (President of Hockey Ops for all you newbs) has had a pretty good track record with the draft so far and I’d trust them to hit the nail on the head again this season. However, if either Dobson or Bouchard is available and they choose Ty Smith I will personally drag Lowetide and Stauffer to Churchill square for a lashing.
2. BRIDGE NURSE
Drake Caggiula and Matt Benning have both received two-year deals in the past week, time for Darnell Nurse to get his. This doesn’t HAVE to get done over the next three days but I do think it would help things to get this negotiation out of the way. If Chiarelli is going to be actively shopping for help on the wing or blueline, maybe both, it would be nice to have a number for Nurse locked in.
On The Nielson Show (that’s my radio program, tell a friend), Rishaug has suggested something around 2.8-3.2 million would be reasonable for Nurse on a two-year deal. I don’t see a downside to a bridge deal for either team or the player.
3. TRADE LUCIC
This deal will get done at some point over the four weeks but it would be ideal if Chiarelli can find a taker for his disgruntled winger at the Draft. I’m not sure where Lucic’s value is at right now but I do know it will probably go up a bit after his bonus is paid at the end of the month.
I think the pressure is on Chiarelli to find a suitable deal before that so he can actually be aggressive in free agency as opposed to playing the wait and see game.
I don’t think it’s likely this gets done in Dallas but it would certainly ease everyone’s stress levels.
4. FIND A RIGHTY….OR A LEFTY
In a perfect world, Chiarelli comes home from the draft with a high-end prospect selected with the 10th overall pick and a right shot d-man that can help the top unit PP immediately. In reality, he may come back with only one or the other.
Chiarelli may have to settle for a left shot d-man who can help on the power-play but how much are you willing to part with to get someone who may or may not be able to do the job better than a healthy Oscar Klefbom. The problem facing the Oilers right now is that any of the d-man they are currently interested in will end up costing them either this year’s first-round pick, Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi.
Despite what some of you are already thinking I’ve been told that Jesse Puljujarvi’s value around the league is still considered quite high. I wouldn’t part with him, but the Oilers might. If Wahlstrom slips to ten could the Oilers draft him and move Puljujarvi to get some much-needed help on the blueline? That’s not a stretch.
My preference would be Rasmus Ristolainen out of Buffalo. Who or what will it take to make that deal happen?
5. PLANT THE SEED
The Oilers will need to add one or two wingers in the off-season. The draft is an opportunity for Chiarelli to start planting seeds for possible deals to the pull the trigger on in early July.
Wingers with speed and a bit of scoring ability will be easier to get in free agency than a right shot d-man. The smart play here is to throw some ideas around, attempt to sign free agents and when you come up empty go back and pull the trigger on a deal or two.
Trade the 1st round pick in 2019 for help on the blueline or wing.
- Choose Wisely 85% chance of happening
- Bridge Nurse 90% chance of happening
- Trade Lucic 25% chance of happening
- Find a Righty….or a Lefty 50% chance of happening
- Plant The Seed 100% chance of happening
As for my to do list in Dallas……Jimmy Johns.
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