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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – How did the Oilers do at the NHL Draft?

Welcome, friends, to another edition of the Monday Mailbag where we answer all of your Oilers related questions and give you a few minutes of time killing distraction from whatever you have going on. With another NHL Draft in the books, there’s plenty to talk about as the Oilers had a very good weekend in Dallas. This week, we take a look at the Oilers haul from the weekend, the winners and losers around the league, and whether or not things played out as we thought they would. As always, I need your questions to make this work. If you’ve got one, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.

Jun 22, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Evan Bouchard poses for a photo with team representatives after being selected as the number ten overall pick to the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

1) Terry K. asks – What was the best draft weekend surprise in terms of pick, trade, or otherwise?

Jason Gregor:

There was only one trade, so the lack of activity was a surprise. I didn’t see any major surprises. Every scouting service I spoke to leading up to the draft said picks #3-#12 were all very close, and it came down to teams near the top needing centres and taking them, thus leaving some D-men to be available later. It was the least exciting draft, as far as trades, or surprise picks, that I have covered.

Robin Brownlee:

Having the choice of Dobson, Wahlstrom and Bouchard with the 10th pick. It was no sure thing that any one of them would be available there. Having all three was easily the biggest surprise for me.

Dustin Nielson:

Bouchard being there at ten is the best surprise the Oilers could have asked for. He’s exactly what they needed and he fell right in their lap.

Matt Henderson:

Biggest surprise — for me — was that I really liked what the team did. I went into Friday evening with a sense of overwhelming dread based on the rumours about potentially moving Klefbom. Instead, the team made really sound picks and maybe even prevented bad trades down the road because of it.

Christian Pagnani:

I didn’t think Calgary would trade Dougie Hamilton, but they did and arguably sold low.

Chris the intern:

I’m surprised I’m so satisfied with what the Oilers got done this weekend. I mean, Bouchard fell onto their lap, but they went the whole draft without making a mistake, and that’s a win in my book.

Baggedmilk:

I still can’t believe that Bouchard was still available for the Oilers at 10. To take it a step further, I would have never predicted in a million years that they would have had their choice of Bouchard, Wahlstrom, and Dobson still available but you’ve gotta thank the Coyotes and Rangers for going way off the board.

Jun 22, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Evan Bouchard puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number ten overall pick to the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2) Daniel asks – By the time this gets posted the draft will have come and gone and now I’m wondering what you think is next to do on the Oilers’ offseason list?

Jason Gregor:

They need to find some value contracts in free agency, specifically a veteran right winger.

Robin Brownlee:

With QO’s already out to Nurse and Strome (and Slepyshev), I’d be following up on any trade talks in Dallas. Was there something close that didn’t get done? Any initial inquiries? The other thing is obviously free agency.

Dustin Nielson:

Acquire wingers. I don’t know how anyone could disagree with this. If anyone doesn’t say wingers I will meet them in a barn.

Matt Henderson:

I still firmly believe that the Oilers should be doing everything in their power to move Lucic and Russell. That’s $10M in cap space that likely won’t be delivering value to the team. Beyond that, they should be looking add some veteran wing depth with legitimate scoring potential

Christian Pagnani:

Upgrade the defence.

Chris the intern:

I think everything they did this past weekend was near the bottom of the to-do list. They need to start at the top now, acquiring some NHL-ready D-men and wingers that will actually add value to our team and playoff chances this year.

Baggedmilk:

The Oilers obviously need wingers right now and I wonder if Chiarelli might look to add another depth defenceman as well. I don’t like the idea of rushing Bouchard into the NHL and the AHL isn’t an option so it would be nice to have a backup plan there.

Edmonton Oilers second round pick (40th overall) is centreman Ryan McLeod.

3) Stacy asks – How did the Oilers do at the draft relative to how you expected them to do?

Jason Gregor:

They did fine. I expected them to make their first two picks. They got a forward and a D-man, which they were hoping for. Bouchard fills a big organizational need, and McLeod gives them some depth at C/LW. Rodrique might become a very good goalie, and he was chosen right around where he was ranked, but the optics aren’t great on the Oilers drafting a son of someone in their organization. They do this more often than other teams, and it has yet to work out. In five or six years we’ll see if it was the right move. Maybe it will be an advantage to have their goalie consultant work closely with a goalie, but fairly, or not, it looked like a decision the Oilers make that other teams don’t.

Robin Brownlee:

As well as anybody could have reasonably hoped. They got one of the players they coveted with the 10th pick and they didn’t rush anything on the trade front.

Dustin Nielson:

They did exactly what I expected them to do. They’ve done an excellent job at the draft since Chiarelli took over and they did that again.

Matt Henderson:

I thought they did great. In terms of team needs, I think the Oilers added exactly what they needed in the first round and snagged a talent that was supposed to go higher. Bouchard was the most offensively proficient defender in the draft, has decent size, has a great first pass, was supposed to be going six-ish and fell to 10. The McLeod kid was rated as a first rounder by some and Rodrigue (despite concerns about family connections) was the top rated goalie. All said that’s great work in the first two rounds.

Christian Pagnani:

I like their first two picks. I’m not the biggest fan of drafting goalies high but it didn’t seem like they went too much off the board with their picks.

Chris the intern:

I’m satisfied. They are definitely a better organization now then they were before the draft. What’s not to be happy about that?

Baggedmilk:

I’m pumped actually. The Bouchard pick was pretty awesome and I’m also into McLeod and Rodrigue in the second round. McLeod was ranked by many to go in the first round and Rodrigue was the highest ranked goalie in the draft, so I don’t see how you can be anything but happy about how this went. No more reaches for Coke Machines in the early rounds under Keith Gretzky and that’s very good news.

4) Hamish asks – In your opinion, who were the winners and losers of draft weekend?

Jason Gregor:

The winners were all the kids getting drafted. That is a huge thrill. Losers were fans and media with only one NHL trade to discuss.

Robin Brownlee:

Based on expectations going in, I’d again mention the Oilers for having those three choices with the 10th pick. We’ll see how/if that works out with Bouchard. Will also be interested to see how Arizona’s pick of Barrett Hayton works out. The analytics crowd is rooting for GM John Chayka, but I think taking Hayton where he did was a reach. Lastly, I won’t call LA the big losers, but I don’t have a lot of faith that Ilya Kovalchuk can live up to the three-year contract he got from the Kings.

Dustin Nielson:

Islanders were the winners. Possibly Detroit as well. Losers, Flames.

Matt Henderson:

Winners were New York Islanders (Edmonton runner up) and losers were the Flames. Thanks to the Hamonic trade the Flames gave NYI the pick that let them take Dobson right after Wahlstrom. Neither was supposed to be available at the 11 or 12 spot.  The Flames didn’t draft until the fourth round and then gave away their best young defender in a trade because he likes museums more than getting ripped with the boys at Moxies.

Christian Pagnani:

The Islanders and Leafs had good drafts. Calgary had no picks and lost a significant trade so they’re my losers.

Chris the intern:

I’m going with my fav team, the Oilers as the winners. Having so many options with the #10 pick was huge. Continuing on with the Oilers theme, I thought the Flames were the losers of the draft.

Baggedmilk:

Detroit had to be a winner. Zadina being available at #6 was wild and even having the chance to take Veleno last in the first round was a win for them. Losers are the Flames. They didn’t have a pick in the first three rounds and ended up trading away the league leader in scoring on defence in Hamilton. I know Hanifin is a damned good player, but Dougie Hamilton is better and they sent him out of town for reading too many books or something.

Nov 24, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Buffalo beats Edmonton 3 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

5) Oiler fan in Van asks – Lucic’s agent was on Oilers Now and said that he had not asked for a trade out of Edmonton which seems like trying to put a fire out after Chiarelli refused to comment the day before. What do you personally believe?

Jason Gregor:

I believe he said he was open for a trade, but didn’t “technically” demand one. There were conversations and how it was worded isn’t a big deal to me. Lucic has no trade value right now, so if he wants out he will need to have a bounce-back year, play well, and then more teams might be interested next summer.

Robin Brownlee:

Why does “no comment” start a fire? Doesn’t make sense for Chiarelli to say one way or another. What’s the upside to him saying yes or no? I think Lucic is open to the idea of a trade but that doesn’t mean he has asked for one. Let’s not forget, he’s a family man and that, as fans should know, is a factor. He’s not the only one with a vote regarding where he plays.

Dustin Nielson:

I do not believe for a second that Lucic wants to return to Edmonton next season. Oilers trying to put out a fire. Fail. Even if he returns it’s not because he wants to.

Matt Henderson:

I believe the agent was lying through his teeth because there’s a great chance that Lucic’s boat anchor deal is unmovable until he proves that he doesn’t suck and Lucic will have no choice but to play in the city until that happens.

Christian Pagnani:

There’s way too much out there for Lucic to not have asked out in some form. Feels like damage control by Lucic’s agent.

Chris the intern:

I’m sure this wouldn’t be the first time an agent lied to a media member. This is definitely some damage control happening just in case Lucic doesn’t get traded. I don’t blame him.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t buy it for a second. The Oilers were doing damage control by having the agent go on the rights holders station the next day to try and put the fire out that Chiarelli started with the ‘no comment’ answer to a very easy question. Now, just because I think he’s asked for a trade doesn’t mean that he won’t be back here next year — those are two separate issues.

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  • Jimmer

    Does drafting Bouchard and him being 3 years away from playing regularly in the NHL change what Chia looks for in a right handed d-man. For example…go after a 32 year old Mike Green to run the PP for a few years then as his contract expires….Bouchard moves into the line-up on a regular basis. Prior to the draft I would have thought they would go after a younger player like Dumba….but now??? Who knows.

      • Jimmer

        If they don’t let this kid play another year in JR (and play on the World Junior Team) and then play at least one full year in the AHL I will lose my mind. He’s not Drew Doughty or Aaron Ekblad….there is a reason why he went 10th and not 1st or 2nd. Crossing my fingers they don’t rush this kid.

    • crabman

      He already has NHL size and put up a ton of offence. He is almost NHL ready this year. He will get a long look in training camp and might even get a few games to start the year. I hope they give him 1 more year in junior but nothing about the players says he is 3 years away.

      • Leichs

        Agreed. 6″2 almost 200 pounds. A grizzled 19 by the time the season starts next year. Put up most points in junior as dman in his draft year since Ellis. I believe Ekblad put up 50-something points in his draft year in the same league. Not sure what about this guy screams 3 years away. He’s got the size and the tools, we will see how he looks in camp and pre season.

  • lee

    It was a solid draft for the Oiler’s.
    If Lucic comes back then the fans really need to cut this guy some slack, like its been said, he has a family and the constant attacks on him must be hard on them.
    If he wants out then Lucic and the team need to do everything they can to make sure next season is pretty good for him.
    It’s a clean slate next season and the fans need to get behind the team. Next season the first ten games are brutal so its critical the fans don’t get down on the team.

  • dolenupnorth

    Not sure if I agree with the islanders having a great draft, yes they add some great prospects but they failed to improve goal tending or defence for next year. Yes there is still time but if your convincing tavers to stay wouldn’t using a high pick in a trade for a goalie be better?

        • crabman

          established? I think it’s a coin toss. But my bet would be on Bouchard. Bouchard definitely has a much higher ceiling and could have a real spike in development over the next couple years. Bear looks like he will be a very good 7D or bottom pair that will get PP time. Bear also has 2 years of waiver exemption so no rush on him. Bouchard is either an NHLer or a junior the next 2 seasons. I think he will be in junior this year then NHL the next. The question is if Bear will be there too or will the team use his last year of waiver exemption in the AHL to avoid 2 rookie pro RD in the same year.

  • Daryl Katz

    The Oilers did well as they usually do with the Chia drafts and I’m happy with the picks we made. It couldn’t have worked out any better with our first 3 picks in my opinion.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    “The Flames didn’t draft until the 4th round and then gave away their best young defender in a trade because he likes museums more than getting ripped with the boys at Moxies.”

    Care to elaborate, Hendo? This sounds juicy.

    • Phattmike

      On radio, John Shannon reported that the Flames would go out for team dinners on the road to Moxies, and Dougie would go off alone to a museum instead. Just an introverted guy, who was viewed as not fitting in by some in Flames management. Poor excuse to trade a 1st pairing Dman.

    • geoilersgist

      The rumors floating around YYC here are that he didn’t like to party with Johnny and Monahan and those guys. The trade makes zero sense from a hockey perspective. Oh well good news for the Oilers and that is all that really matters.

    • CMG30

      The if people think that some fans here are down on Looch, its nothing compared to the situation in Calgary and fans being down on Hamilton. Which is strange since unlike Looch, Hamilton was performing at a high level while not too many of his teammates were. So obviously he was the problem??? So just like here when the whisper campaign against Hall started, Calgary ‘fans’ became obsessed with rumors that he ‘wasn’t good in the room’ and that ‘he wasn’t a team player’ as evidence they would complain that he didn’t get mad enough after losses or didn’t want to do interviews with the press after a loss and famously prefered to go visit a museum while the rest of the team went to Moxies.

      Essentially the Flames decided that their problems on the ice were a result of the team off the ice so wanted to effect a ‘culture change’. As an Oilers fan, all i can say is good for them. They broke up arguably the best D tandom in the league and paid extra to do it. Ferland up front is a better player as well. His style of play is to drive the net. He’s got reasonable hands and decent size. His replacement like to shoot from the perimeter. Both incoming players have good pedigree and it’s possible that they will take a major step forward but a betting man wouldn’t put money on it, at least this year.

      • Big Nuggets

        I reckon the fact Hamilton is an introvert is a bit overblown as the reason for the trade. It probably made them think nobody on the team would be too upset if he was traded, and they obviously wanted to shake things up with missing the playoffs last season. Why not sell high on Hamilton. They got 2 great players back and although Ferland is guy you want in your line up, O think getting a 21 year old that will obviously be a stud for the next decade as well an excellent forward that can play center or RW is a good haul. I actually like the trade from Calgary’s side.

  • TruthHurts98

    I’m so relieved that PC didn’t make another blockbuster trade or any trade before the draft. I didn’t even tune in right away, still have nightmares over the Reinhart trade. I have to give him credit, he does well in the draft. Bouchard has nothing else to prove in Junior so of course they’ll play him on the big club next year. It’s what they do. A lot of scouts said he was the most NHL ready defenseman next to Dahlin. In a perfect world he would have at least one season in the AHL. I hate that rule that doesn’t allow North American players to go there at even 19 when European players can. I get that the Canadian leagues don’t want to be drained of talent, but some exceptions would be great. If Bouchard plays junior next year he’ll probably put up 100 points and not be that challenged. The Oilers are so desperate for anyone to score on the PP so we all know what’s going to happen. Sigh

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Yeah, but in defense of those teams, and any other scouts that noticed him, his junior career #’s looked pretty good… 3 teams were impressed by his stats, it seems.
        He blew it when he got the chance at the NHL level.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    1. Bouchard, Wahlstrom, Dobson ALL being available at 10 was a surprise for me.
    2. Veteran scoring winger. The Oilers have a little over $10M in cap space right now, so I expect them to shell out a bit of money for someone.
    3. Picking Bouchard already made it better than I expected.
    4. Winners: Wings, Islanders, Oilers; Losers: Flames. McDavid is going to rip that “elite” D-core a new one.
    5. I don’t care what happened. I hope Lucic stays

    • Drivefastfinishlast

      Oilers have $10.9m in cap and have to sign 5 more players for a 23 man roster. Nurse wants $4.8X8 and Strome probably is asking for $4m which Strome can easily get if he files for arbitration. That doesn’t leave oilers with any cap space to Vetrean scoring winger. A SCORING winger will not be cheap lol.

      • Big Nuggets

        If Strome wants to be traded he can ask for 4 mil. I’m fine with trading him. Could probably sign Plecanec for 2 mil and have a bit of space to sign someone cheap

  • ricardo2000

    The next item on the Oiler’s list must be skating and passing. Adding this body or that winger won’t solve the problems revealed last year. Changing the assistant coaching staff was a start.
    Having McD won’t change a thing if they can’t get him the puck. McD can’t change a thing unless his teammates can keep up and convert on the chances he creates.
    So I would focus the team on proper off-season training.
    I would have them focus on skating and passing, hopefully in a high-altitude training centre.

    • crabman

      Any offseason moves won’t be based on getting more out of McDavid. The Oilers dominate everyone in the league with McDavid on the ice. The team needs to improve when McDavid isn’t on the ice. Someone to play with Draisaitl and more depth. There isn’t going to be a lot of cap space once Nurse and Strome are signed so unless a big contract gets sent out I don’t expect a big change in next years roster.

  • ed from edmonton

    The Oil have to be on cloud nine thinking about getting Bouchard at ten. Bouchard dropping to ten was due to a premium being put on to smaller faster players like Hughes and Boquist going earlier. NHL teams are notorious for following the leader
    , which has been the Pengiuns. So speed had become the mantra. With the Caps winning vs the Pens, Bolts and Knights in succession maybe a new mantra will be coming.

    • NewPants

      Washington is a big team that can skate so I see them, Jets, Boston, Sharks, and the Preds as big teams. I agree speed is the mantra but smaller might not be the way to go. In the playoffs size makes a difference and a bigger, skilled, fast team in Washington has the cup.

    • Big Nuggets

      The Mantras get annoying, you need a big 3 on defense, can’t win without team speed, Centre depth is key, and so on. I reckon you just need a really good team, a bit of luck, a bit of heart, good reffing helps

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Skating is key in todays NHL, thats why Boqvist and Hughes were long gone by pick #10. The final 4 teams in this years playoffs all had lots of speed and great zone exits.

    • NewPants

      Where are you getting your info? I’ve read nothing but good scouting reports about Evan’s skating. You aren’t the first to post about his skating but if you have real info you will be the first.

    • E-Mac

      Bouchard’s skating is fine. The only small issue I have with him is that he’s a bit soft. I am sure Lucic will teach him a thing or two so I am not concerned.

      • CMG30

        When I watched the draft, it was clear to me that several teams were drafting centermen, not the BPA. I wouldn’t have complained if they had picked dobson or the big winger but they went with Bouchard who checks a ton of boxes as well as an excellent bet. Time will tell but even if it turns out to be a mistake there is no reasonable way to know that at this moment.

  • Serious Gord

    The draft – absent any trades by the Oil was about the future. No major screw-ups – very conventional first and second pick. And nepotism returned on the third but less than 5% of third picks make the NHL so if they are going to squander them there’s that.

    Nothing at the draft addresses the next two years of McDavid’s contract. The Oil have to move from bad this past year to good to great in the next two. I think that Chia has little choice to largely stand pat and hope there is a regression to the mean – unless some fool comes along to take Lucic, Sekera and/or Russell off of his hands.

    • crabman

      @Serious Gord,

      I didn’t think taking Rodrigue at 62 was an issue even if it took 71 and 133 to move up. The pick was in range and actually a value pick going by McKenzie’s list.

      My question is where did you get the statistic only 5% of 3rd rounder make the NHL? An article at tsn.ca has a 61-70 has a 32.2% chance of playing 100 NHL games and a 7.5% chance of being a top6 forward or a top4 dedenceman. this was based off of all picks taken in that range between 1990 and 2013. I provided the link bellow.

      https://www.tsn.ca/statistically-speaking-nhl-draft-pick-value-1.786131

  • E-Mac

    Not much money for FA wing upgrades…

    We may have to settle for an Alex Chiasson. He did win a Cup but was scratched for the entire Cup Finals. Still not really an upgrade but at least a stop gap for Yamo.

    Would love to get Riley Nash though. Would be coming full circle in his career. Doubt he would want to sign here. Had 15 goals last year so he would be a nice depth add.

  • Abagofpucks

    Unless he bows the doors off camp hes going back to the ohl. They cant play him anywhere else hes too young . I dont know if he can play in the dub or not.

  • crabman

    1) best suprise for me was Hayton going 5th. I already had Rangers going off board with Kravtsov at 9 so with Airazona going off I knew the Oilers would have their choice of 2 of Wahlstrom, Dobson, and Bouchard. Chicago going with Boqvist was icing on the cake. I like Boqvist but doubt the Oilers would take him anyway and with Chicago taking him the Oilers were going to have the 3 players to choose from.

    2) If I were GM, and not worried about losing my job, I would be preparing for the 2020 expansion draft. Get out from under Lucic’s NMC as soo as possible as well as Sekera’s. If Lucic can be moved for a player this offseason, even if it is a bad contract coming back, as long as it is shorter, 3 years or less and without a NMC for summer 2020, I make that move. I think Sekera can wait a season but would also be easier to move. I wouldn’t fill all that cap space unless it was on 1 or 2 year deals comming of the books summer 2020 leaving room to add salary in trades and room to either Buy out Russells last year costing $3M against the cap or trafing and retaining 50% at $2M for 1 year. This way none of the MNC affect the expansion draft and I don’t see the Oilers as a cuo team in the next 2 years anyway I would like to see them put themselves in the best position in 2 years.

    3) Oilers did great at the draft. Players they need fell and they took them. I worried the 10th would be traded but they stayed the course and improved the team for the future. I was very happy.

    4) I think biggest winners were the Islanders. They have some really high end prospects over the past few years and made out with a ton of skill from this draft.
    Calgary lack of picks made them losers but we knew that going in.
    I didn’t like Ottawa’s draft. I thought there was more high end talent on the board for each of there first few picks. I’ve never been high enough on Tkachuk to take him top 5. 6-10 yes but not at 4. One of the most NHL ready and I think that played a part in the pick.

    5) I don’t think Lucic said the words “I want a to be traded”. He and Chiarelli have known each other a long time. I suspect the conversation went more like, “I know I didn’t have a great year and if you were thinking about moving that is something I would be interested in.”
    If Lucic didn’t express interest in being moved Chiarelli easily could have said “no, Lucic didn’t ask to be traded.” When he said no comment to a direct question like that, it was a yes. The agent saying Lucic didn’t ask to be traded could all be about the words that were used. “I would be open to a trade” isn’t technically asking to be traded.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    “Lucic’s boat anchor deal is unmovable until he proves that he doesn’t suck and Lucic will have no choice but to play in the city until that happens”
    I totally agree, Matt.

  • Oilers did well at the draft. I want to say good job, but it would have taken severe incompetence to screw it up. Bouchard and Dobson both available at #10 was a windfall for Oilers management. Both players were best player available and filled the #1 need for Edmonton.

  • Heschultzhescores

    There is only one way to tell. Wait and see. Hopefully we can develop a winning culture for these guys from the beginning. Building Confidence is almost more important than a guy’s potential abilities. The abilities take care of themselves when confidence is high.

  • I see my comment regarding Dougie Hamilton has been removed. My bad, I didn’t mean to offend. I should have worded it differently.
    The point I was trying to make, the true reason why Dougie was traded again, will never be made public. No one trades a top pairing right shot defenseman with size that can produce points like Hamilton can.

  • Derian Hatcher

    I assume that you have first-hand knowledge of this? If you do, it’s classless to comment on it for all to see. if you don’t, it’s still classless IMO.

  • OilersGM

    Somebody from Sportsnet and I can’t recall who or I would’ve named him said Hamilton was pissed his brother was put on waivers back in January.
    Now that might not be the whole story but that was reported by Sportsnet.