WWYDW: Draft for need or pick the best player available?

I wrote last week about the possibility of trading up or down at the draft. That’s still a possibility, but, for now, the Oilers have the No. 10 overall pick on Friday. Anything could happen between now and the moment Peter Chiarelli steps up to the podium, but let’s operate under the assumption that the Oilers stick to the No. 10 spot.

Prior to this week, everything said about this draft was in regards to a clear top pick in Rasmus Dahlin, two clear second and third picks in Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina, and then a jumble of six good players that made up a top nine before a pretty significant drop off at No. 10. But, given Bob McKenzie’s final draft rankings that were released on Monday, you can pretty much throw that out the window.

Now it appears that there’s a No. 1 and a No. 2 — Dahlin and Svechnikov — and a jumble behind them. Zadina is no longer clearly the No. 3 and Finnish centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi has surged into the top five, putting a wrench in the clear top nine that had been talked about for months. What that indicates is that somebody from that aforementioned top nine is pretty much sure to fall to Edmonton at No. 10.

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That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. If selecting at No. 10, do you aim to pick for a position or need or do you go with the best player available? Given the nature of this draft, there’s a very good chance that a top player could slide all the way down to Edmonton at No. 10 creating a bit of a conundrum for them as to whether they select a player that fits a specific need.

For example, what if late-riser Kotkaniemi, a skilled centre, slides to No. 10? The Oilers badly need a righty defenceman or a bigger winger, but Kotkaniemi would be a steal at that spot. Same goes for Quinn Hughes, a smaller, left-shot defenceman who profiles to potentially be an elite offensive defenceman. The Oilers are loaded on the left side, but can you decline selecting a player with Hughes’ skill set? Would you let either of those two slide to select Adam Boqvist, who’s currently ranked at No. 10 and fills the needs of right-handed defenceman?

Personally, I don’t find it to be a difficult decision at all. Trust the scouts and pick who they have as the best player available on their list. Obviously, the Oilers aren’t getting Dahlin or Svechnikov, but, after that, it’s really anybody’s guess. The team is strong in one area, and that’s down the middle with Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Strome as centre options. Otherwise? Is there really an area on this roster in which the Oilers are so loaded that they can decline adding a really good player?

What say you, Nation? If the Oilers stick at No. 10, should they simply wait it out and pick whoever the best player is that falls into their lap? Or should they be going into this draft with a specific player with a specific skill set mind?

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  • crabman

    If the Oilers keep the pick I agree they need to trust their scouts and pick whomever is next up on their list. Of coarse the Oilers’ list may be positionally bias to start with. Either way a really good player will be there at 10.
    The top 12 on McKenzie’s list all had at least 1 scout ranking him in the top5. This could be a pretty wild 1st round and we might be suprised by the quality of the player at 10.

  • Steven Bergeron

    I think it’s going to come down to who is available at 7 8 9, if someone the oilers are targeting slides to one of those positions, you need to look at trading up. Drafting someone like Wahlstrom if possible is a no brainer. If not, BPA, I just can’t see them passing on an elite talent like Boqvist at 10 if he’s still available.

  • TKB2677

    If as an example you have 2 players you feel are equal, one if a left handed dman and 1 is a right handed dman then maybe you pick for need. But for the most part, you should always pick the best player available.

    The Oilers went for need a few years ago when they wasted picks on Musil and Moroz and its cost them dearly.

  • LordRuggles

    Given which players are likely to be available at 10, we are pretty sure to get a player who will fill a need. Either a winger or d. But hey curve ball, what if at 10 none of the surefire’s are there, what if we traded to drop down, and then somehow packaged to get a second late first, what if we could get a guy like Bokk, Kaut, or Farabee, as well as a d prospect like Wilde or Merkley?

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    What is the greatest need in the Oilers organization right now? A RHD who can quarterback a powerplay. Gee, I wonder if there is a player who fits that bill. Oh wait, there is! DRAFT BOQVIST!

    • Rock11

      Cause you’re sure that in 2020 when that kid is ready to contribute that the Oilers greatest need will be a RHD who can QB a powerplay. Not saying you don’t draft him as he is a fine prospect but 3C could be the biggest need by the time this draft pick is ready.

      • IRONman

        Grab D. Highly unlikely any top 10 forwards fall to 10th pick. Montreal told zadina no already. So top 4 is lock. There will be a awesome D for the Oilers. Pray they pick D. Can’t go and buy a right handed D. It will cost you Leon. No way. Draft and development

      • crabman


        I agree we don’t know for sure what the teams greatest need in 2-3 years will be so BPA makes sense. But I would never draft a player at 10 hoping he fills the 3C spot. at 10 we need to be shooting for top6 forward or top4 defenceman as the minimum. If you have 2 players rated almost even, then sure draft for what player you anticipate needing more or the position that will have the most value in a trade down the line, ie center or rhd first. If a player falls that you have ranked higher than the rest, that’s the player you draft.

    • The Whispererer

      The key words are “right now”. Of all the top ranked defencemen Boqvist is very likely the farthest away from being NHL ready. He is expected to need at least 2 more years of development in Sweden. He has also had 2 concussions already and is dropping down most draft rankings with several answering with his name when asked who is the biggest bust risk. In 3 or 4 years he could be the next Eric Karlsson or …

    • That's My Point

      Craig Button was saying Boqvist is a “RED FLAG”.
      He was a C- on most scouting reports without the puck and has a laissez faire attitude.
      Oilers will DEFINITELY draft this one!!!

    • IRONman

      I would draft Boqvist. New nhl speed. And wait till he is 21. They should have sent Puljujarvi back and waited till he was 21. Good old oilers, draft 18 year old, here is your jersey kid, now go score some goals. Sad

      • Jaxon

        Have you read the scathing critique of Boqvist on The Athletic. It’s ugly. I’d stay away from Boqvist. The video highlights paint a brutal picture of a player who doesn’t give a shiite with major holes in his defensive game. Pronman also mentioned in one article about a month or so ago that he heard scouts mentioning that Boqvist had attitude issues. Add to that the 2 consussions, and his small size and I’m really hoping Edmonton doesn’t pick him.

      • crabman

        Boqvist isn’t falling out of the top 15 and even that will be a rediculous slide. 10th on McKenzie’s list and his range from the 10 scouts surveyed was 5-14. add in his comparisons to Karlsson in his draft year, some team in the top 15 will look beyond his size, just shy of 6 feet, defensive deficiencies, and 2 concussions.
        “he was the best defenceman at the Ivan Hlinka U-18 tourney last August and again at the Under-18 World Championship in April.” – Bob McKenzie

  • Ever the Optimist

    Well considering we are still trying to build the pipeline of youth and Gretzky has done a very good job in identifying talent in the mid rounds.
    I would move our first for a late first and other picks. Pull a MacT and grab as many 3rd rounders as possible then develop.

    Chia will have to win a trade or two this off season but If Lucic can be moved for a player and cap space. The move a piece from the left for a rhd things begin to look better.

  • Canoe Ride 27

    See how the top 9 unfolds and pick the best D available. If for some reason you don’t like the remaining D options (unlikely), wheel and deal. Just don’t let Chia do the talking.

  • Jaxon

    I was reading the Blue Bullet Reports 2018 draft Guide today.
    He places a value on each pick in the draft. By his numbers, trading #10 & #71 for #14 & #19 makes sense. I would love that trade and I’d make it if Wahlstrom doesn’t fall to #10, which is unlikely. I’d gamble a bit on the picks with K’Andre Miller and Ryan Merkley and then maybe draft Mascherin at #40. That would give you 2 of the best D in the draft (granted Merkley is a risky pick), and the player most likely to step right into the NHL next season outside the top 4 or 5 picks (Dahlin, Svechnikov, Hughes, Takchuk, Wahlstrom) in Mascherin. And that would cover 2 needs (high-scoring left winger and future offensive RHD).

    • crabman

      Thanks for the link. I’ve been questioning what a fair deal/what would it take to get 14 and 19 from Philly. I would do that trade as the Oilers. I wouldn’t be making the same picks as you but I do understand your thinking after reading your argument for Miller over at lowtide and with 2 1st round picks Merkley could be worth the risk. But I’d perpose if Merkley if your pick to flip that 19 to a mid to late 20’s, get Merkley and a late 2nd.
      I also wouldn’t touch Marscherin with the 40. McKenkie doesn’t have him on his 93 man list and Pronman was talking about him the other day and suggested mid to late round pick, 4th-6th round range. I would use the 40 for a better prospect. someone like Olofsson if I was adding a forward or Beaudin, Woo, Durzi, or Addison if I was adding a D. If the 19, or 19 & a 2019 3rd, turned into say Anaheim’s 24 and 54, they could come away with a strong scoring forward like Wise, Nordgren or Hills. I doubt Chisrelli would trade down let alone twice. And if he did he would definitely not use all the picks but a draft day that looked like;
      14 – Veleno/Farabee
      24 – Merkley/Wilde/Sandin
      40 – Addison/Durzi
      54 – Nordgren/Hillis
      That would go a long way to restock the prospect pool.

      • Jaxon

        I like your thinking, but I really don’t think Merkley lasts past the 2nd pick in the first round of PHI #19, OTT #22, NYR #26, CHI #27, NYR #28, DET #30. One of them will gamble on Merkley if they’ve picked a safe best player available with their first pick. If not them, then it’s also possible TOR will pick him at #25. I did some permutations based on Blue bullet’s values (in order form favourite to least favourite):
        TEAMS TRADES 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
        EDM-PHI-MIN – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19 FOR 24&63 – 14 – 24 – 40 – 63 – 133 – 164 – 195 – X
        EDM-PHI-LAK – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19&40 FOR 20,51&82 – 14 – 20 – 51 – 82 – 133 – 164 – 195 – X
        EDM-PHI-MIN – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19 FOR 24&86 – 14 – 24 – 40 – 86 – 133 – 164 – 195 – X
        EDM-PHI-ANA – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19&40 FOR 23,54&79 – 14 – 23 – 54 – 79 – 133 – 164 – 195 – X
        EDM-PHI-MIN – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19&40 FOR 24,63,86&92 – 14 – 24 – 63 – 86 – 92 – 133 – 164 – 195
        EDM-PHI-LAK – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19 FOR 20&175 – 14 – 20 – 40 – 133 – 164 – 175 – 195 – X
        EDM-PHI-SJS – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19 FOR 21&182 – 14 – 21 – 40 – 133 – 164 – 182 – 195 – X
        EDM-PHI-OTT – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19 FOR 22&126 – 14 – 22 – 40 – 126 – 133 – 164 – 195 – X
        EDM-PHI-ANA – 10&71 FOR 14&19 THEN 19 FOR 23&116 – 14 – 23 – 40 – 116 – 133 – 164 – 195 – X
        EDM-PHI – 10&71 FOR 14&19 – 14 – 19 – 40 – 133 – 164 – 195 – X – X
        EDM – – 10 – 40 – 71 – 133 – 164 – 195 – X – X

        • Jaxon

          With my favourite is trades with PHI & MIN, turning 10 & 71 into 14, 24 & 63: #14 – K’Andre Miller, #24 – Ryan Merkley, #40 – Jacob Lauko or Johnny Gruden, #63 – Johnny Gruden or Adam Mascherin.

          • Jaxon

            Also the #2 PHI-LAK trade is tempting as Merkley might be gone #22 to OTT (eventual replacement for Karlsson), although with the circuse show in OTT right now, a smart GM would stay away from anyone with possible attitude issues. That’s the last bit of PR they need right now, so maybe it’s safe to rule them out. Or maybe it really is a stupid organization so they might draft him. Who knows.
            Maybe Merkley and Miller picks should be reversed. In my tracking of 20 scouting lists, Merkley’s high is #10, his avg is 25, Miller’s high is #19, his avg is 28. But I think I’d go safer with Miller at #14. If you lose out on Merkley from 15 to 22 or 24 so be it, there are still many good prospects.
            PHI & LAK, turning 10, 40 & 71 into 14, 20, 51 & 82:
            #14 – K’Andre Miller,
            #20 – Ryan Merkley,
            #51 – Jacob Lauko (avg #50) or Johnny Gruden (avg#68-73), #63 – Adam Mascherin (avg #60-63),
            #82 – 1 of goalie Olivier Rodrigue (avg#76), Johnny Gruden (criminally underrated #68-73), Kody Clark (Wendel’s son avg#76-77), Ty Emberson (RHD avg #85-90), or Jacob Ragnarsson (LHD with great numbers in ALLSVENSKAN avg #86-93)

            at #133 I’d pick goal scoring Pavel Gogolev (avg#113 to 147)
            at #164 I’d pick British Liam Kirk (avg #117 to 153) – Oilers had the only other Brit to almost play during Gretzky’s era, Tony Hand (he came to camp but was unprepared for it at the time). Considered best British hockey player of all time. Would be a cool story to give Kirk another chance to make it.
            at #195 I’d pick C Tristen Nielsen (avg#180 to 201) – he’s very underrated. not sure why he’s so low. Most 5-on-5 Primary Pts / 60 in the WHL and he’s fast.

            Speaking of Nielsen – looked into scouting reports and discovered he cranked it up after coming back from injury. I had him at #14 on my projected primary pts, but his stats form mid-december on place him #7
            Andrei Svechnikov 38.801
            Joel Farabee 32.232
            Oliver Wahlstrom 28.788
            Jonathan Gruden 27.616
            Filip Zadina 23.902
            Serron Noel 23.696
            Tristen Nielsen post injury mid DEC to END 22.544
            Jake Wise 22.054
            Aidan Dudas 21.630
            Allan McShane 21.522
            Curtis Douglas 21.058
            Brady Tkachuk 20.483

            Could be a great sleeper pick. Not sure he’ll last to #195. somebody will pick him sooner. Maybe he should be our #133 or even #82. One ranking had him at #104.

  • Drivefastfinishlast

    Oilers should draft Ryan Merkley if he is still available in the second round. One of the most talented RHD in the draft but with a little bit of an attitude is why he isn’t mentioned. Give him time he will grow out of it.

    • Jaxon

      I’d be surprised if he makes it past 29. Teams with multiple first-round picks (can afford to gamble a bit on 2nd pick) and Toronto will be very tempted. I doubt NYI gambles that much at #12. But one of PHI #19, OTT #22, TOR#25, CHI #27, NYR #28, or DET #30 will likely pick him.

  • toprightcorner

    The best player available will likely be a dman and I think the Oiler should take a dman, the only player I take ahead of a dman is Walstrom because he is one of the top 5 pure goal scorers in the draft since Stamkos. That trumps everything when you can get a Kurri for McDavid.

    I pass on Boqvist because the Oilers need this pick to hit and out of the top 15, he seems the most likely to miss, even though he could end up being the second best player in this draft. That is still too risky.

  • toprightcorner

    I would pick in this order if available:

    1) Bouchard
    2) Walstrom
    3) Dobson
    4) Kotkaniemi
    5) Best dman available

    Walstrom and Kotkaniemi are the only forwards that could be there at 10 that I would take before a dman.

    I would take Smith ahead of Hayton, Veleno or Farabee if nobody fell to 10