WWYDW(FE): Draft Strategy

The 2019 NHL draft will kick off in Vancouver on Friday evening. For the 10th time in 11 years, the Oilers will be selecting in the top 10. You know the drill. Let’s talk draft strategy.

This will be Ken Holland’s first draft at the helm of the Oilers, but having worked for decades with the Red Wings in various scouting capacities before becoming general manager, this is nothing new for him. He’ll also be able to lean on an amateur scouting staff who have done a fairly solid job for the Oilers in the past couple years, making smart picks in the first round like Kailer Yamamoto and Evan Bouchard while also finding some gems like Dimitri Samourokov later in the draft.

This What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION is about Holland’s strategy rolling into his first-ever draft as the Oilers’ general manager. What should he be looking for with his first-round pick? Should he look to either trade up or trade down? Or should the eighth-overall pick be in play for a player who can help the team now?

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Keep the pick?

If the Oilers just stand pat and select with the eighth overall choice, they certainly have a good player fall into their lap. The only sure things in this draft are that Jack Hughes and Kappo Kakko will be heading to New Jersey and New York first and second overall. After that, it’s anybody’s guess how this thing goes down.

Take a player like Vasili Podzolkin for example. I’ve seen him ranked as high as third overall in mid-season lists and I’ve also seen him listed as low as 20th. After those first two aforementioned players, it’s really hard to say who’s going to go where, but it’s inevitable the Oilers will have a quality player available to them.

GDB 64.0: First Place On The Line (8:30 p.m., SNW)

Cola Caufield, a wildly skilled forward who dominated the U-18s, will likely be sitting there when the Oilers draft. If somebody like Caufield who’s ranked outside the top-10 because of his size, does end up going higher than expected, it’ll mean another good player like Dylan Cozens or Trevor Zegras fell down. That’s what we saw last year when Montreal selected Jesperi Kotkaniemi third and Arizona took Barrett Hayton fifth. A couple of surprising picks pushed Filip Zadina down to sixth and Evan Bouchard all the way down to 10th.

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Photo Credit: Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Move up or down?

There’s also the possibility of either moving up or moving down. It isn’t something we’ve seen the Oilers do in recent years, but it’s certainly a possibility.

At this stage, it’s hard to imagine the Oilers moving up. As I said, it’s a crapshoot after No. 1 and 2 overall, and the Oilers aren’t in a position to sell the farm to acquire Hughes or Kakko. Given the depth of the draft, moving down makes a lot more sense for this team.

Last year, scouts and experts said that there was a very clear top 10 in the draft and the Oilers were right on the cusp of it with the 10th overall pick. This year, that isn’t the case. The Oilers could easily move down a few spots if they can find a partner who badly wants to acquire a player at eighth overall and still select a very good prospect.

In doing so, they could either acquire more picks in what’s being deemed as an incredibly deep draft or they can use it as a sweetener in another deal. Could swapping No. 10 and No. 8 overall be the sweetener the Canucks need to pull the trigger on a Milan Lucic for Loui Eriksson swap?

GDB 56.0 Wrap Up: Oilers solid from the crease outward, beating the Blackhawks by 5-3 score

I wouldn’t blame Oilers fans for not wanting to trade down given what happened back in 2003.

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Trade for immediate help?

While we expect Ken Holland to take his time to work through Peter Chiarelli’s mess, there’s also a lot of pressure for the Oilers to improve immediately. Missing the playoffs for a third-straight season would be nothing short of a disaster. The eighth overall pick could certainly help them get a player who could be a game-changer right now.

Offensive minded right defenceman Tyson Barrie’s name has been mentioned in trade talks for years and he would be a great fit alongside Darnell Nurse on Edmonton’s second pair. The Jets are looking to shake things up and Nik Ehlers could give the Oilers the one-two punch behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl that they need.

What say you, Nation? How should Holland approach the draft? Should he just stand still and get a good prospect with the eighth pick? Should he look to trade down? Or should he try to move it for immediate help? 


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  • Ass Eatn Szn 69

    bpa forward high NHLE
    bpa forward high NHLE
    bpa LHD or player ranked in 2nd round who fell
    bpa with skill or player high ranked player who fell
    bpa with skill or player high ranked player who fell

  • reidgm

    Whoever they draft this year, will not be on the team this year. Nobody, outside of Hughes or Kakko, can step into the NHL right away. And Holland will let the pick mature/develop/ripen, or whatever you want to call it, in another year of junior and then the AHL.

  • kormega

    Take Podkolzin at eight, if he’d be still available, and in a couple of years the team will get the wing answer (if not earlier)

    If Ehlers is possible for eighth, prospect and bottom-six guy (maybe Khaira) – that would be a steal. Can someone remember when Oilers actually did a real steal trade, like Rags did with Trouba recently?

    And send Puljuarvi and his trash-talking agent to Finnish lakes for a year. Anyway his price won’t be lower than now (if only he’s not planning to become a speedway racer like Bonsignor, who knows))

    • Republic of oil

      Any news on Krebs injury. Talk about bad timing. Not a great injury to have at this time of year. I hope all goes well for him but would prefer the Oilers to avoid picking him.

    • Republic of oil

      Agreed the oil need more than another 6 million dollar contract. Even if it comes attached to a great player. I would like to see them add 2 good wingers with that amount of money. We also need forward prospects out of the draft so id rather see them acquire picks instead of trading them away. I dont think the Jets would do it either unless the Oilers added a good D prospect.

      • CARLSOTO

        Size could be a concern, but spatial awareness on the ice can allow you to avoid getting crunched. I can’t say I’ve watched Caufield play but some of the hardest players to hit/knock off the puck are the little guys. Players like Marchand, Parise, Eberle, Gaudreau, etc don’t get pasted because they play smart and don’t put themselves in to the dangerous zones without an escape.

          • CARLSOTO

            I take it you didn’t watch the Isle’s playoff run this year. Eberle played a fairly solid role posting 9 points (4G, 5A) in 8 playoff games, not to mention scoring a handful of goals within 10 feet of the net. Eberle may have left a sour taste in your mouth, but he has been playing with some confidence and it shows. I included him because he’s a smaller forward who doesn’t get blown up.

  • dsanchez1973

    It’s Boldy. Take Boldy. Almost every scouting report on most of the top forwards shows them as pass first and big puck carriers, two things the Oilers don’t need. Boldy’s hockey IQ is elite, and he’s proven the ability to play with exceptional players in a variety of roles. I will be sorely disappointed if he’s not our pick.

  • Republic of oil

    Trade Nugent Hopkins ( I know I know hes one of my favourite oilers too but they could sell high for once)
    to the Colorado Avalanche. They are looking for a second line center. Also trade Lucic and a 4th to Vancouver for Errickson and flip him to a cap floor team like Ottawa or Arizona for a 2nd round pick. The return for Nuge – # 4 & # 16 pick today. Then take the # 4 to pick Kirby Dach. The # 8 for Cozens Caulfield or Boldy in that order and hope Broberg is still there at # 16. Use the 12 million in extra cap space to sign Ryan Dzingel Micheal Ferland Brett Connolly and Petr Mrazek. Instant contender with a few great forward prospects to go with what they already have on defence. Your welcome Jay Woodcroft.

    • Republic of oil

      Connor Brown for Ethan Bear seems like a good trade for both sides.
      Andre Burakovsky for the 38th pick sounds like a win win to me.
      I would like to see Puljajarvi Sekera and a 3rd to Carolina for Hamilton and a 2nd.

    • kormega

      Don’t. Touch. Nuge.

      There are only four players in the squad who survived Chia’s gloom era. Nuge, Nurse, Drai, Klef. Future legends of the team I wish to believe. Build around them (and the Captain of course) and the things gonna be bright.

      • Republic of oil

        Hes a great player and one of my favorites but hes gotta go. His stock has never been this high. The return could help to set this team up at forward for the next decade and we need the cap space.

        • kormega

          He’s already a forward for the next decade and he’s already here. What return do you await from him? Another “decent” pack of skaters no one will remember in two years? Look at the market, it’s poor as puck.

          • Republic of oil

            Dach and Broberg wont be “decent” and there are alot of forwards going into free agency that would fill the gaping holes in this roster but we dont have the cap room. Nugent Hopkins is worth every penny of his salary but I would rather we had Dzingel and Mrazek in the lineup.

    • CMG30

      You do not cash players who are posting career years and are statistically entering their primes. Especially for picks. That’s the kind of thinking that leads never ending rebuilds because all you can do is hope that one of those picks eventually turns into the player you traded away.

      Instead, when you have young players who are preforming, you try to build around those players…

  • Archer

    The tone of these scouting reviews is very similar, year after year. Each prospect is hyped in glowing terms to apparently be a cross of all of the good features of existing and past NHL stars. Some of them will in fact go on to be stars, but the reality is that many will be disappointments. The chances of a prospect being at least a decent pro seem greater the higher they are projected to go and the more scouts who endorse those views, but many of the best players have not been drafted especially high (Gaudreau, Hull, Messier) and many more have been drafted later in the first or even the second round (Iginla, Sakic, Niewendyk). So, let’s temper our enthusiasm for anything beyond the first several picks – history shows that many will not pan out. That’s part of the nature of drafting 18 year olds, there are just too many variables no matter how much they are hyped – see Bonsignore, Kelly, and maybe now Puljujarvi.

    I want the Oilers to keep the 8th pick, if there is a player available at that spot who they reasonably believe will improve the team within a reasonable time frame. However, the value of picks in the first 10 is at its peak today – if the Oilers can get a good player who will help this coming season and for years thereafter then they should move the pick. Take advantage of the desperation of a rival GM who wants to make a splash today and is willing to overpay.

  • CMG30

    Trade down if it will entice Van to take Lucic off our hands. This is a deep draft. We’ll still get a great prospect and if we don’t find a way to move Lucic, he will cost this organization a good NHL player who we could otherwise keep in the expansion draft.