Getting a Goal Scorer at the NHL Draft

There is a difference between an NHL team’s short-term needs and long-term needs. Around draft time, it’s especially important to keep that in mind. You’ll often hear people say that a team should never draft for need and should always take the best player available. I don’t think teams should do that 100% of the time. I think there needs to be a balance.

Take a look at the Oilers, for example. They’ve spent their last two first-round picks on defensemen, and when you look at their organization, they have a plethora of young d-men who will likely be able to play in their top four for the next five to ten years. There really isn’t a need to go out and take a player like Kaiden Guhle or Braden Schneider in the first round because the Oilers already have a handful of quality defensive prospects in their system and on their current roster.

When you look at the short-term needs for the Edmonton Oilers, it’s clear that GM Ken Holland will need to go out and get a goaltender and a third-line centre this offseason. You obviously aren’t finding a player that can immediately fill one of those holes in this year’s draft. Yes, you could take Russian prospect Yaroslav Askarov, but he might not be there at 14th overall either.

I think the Oilers would be wise to take him if he were to fall to them in the draft but I think it’s more realistic to expect them to fill another long-term organization need: a natural goal-scoring winger.

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When you look around their organization right now, the only player who looks like he might have a chance to one day be a top-six, scoring winger is Raphael Lavoie. After him, there really isn’t a natural goal scorer coming through the pipeline.

If they could find a prospect who has the potential to be a consistent producer in their top-six within the next two-three years, it would be huge. As they go through the next few seasons, where the cap is going to stay flat, it’s crucial that they find skilled players on cheap contracts. The easiest way to find players like that is to draft them.

If the Oilers decide to go that route, there are more than a few options for them to consider at the upcoming NHL Draft. Here are some of my favourites:

SETH JARVIS (PORTLAND, WHL): I would be surprised if Jarvis fell to the Oilers. Craig Button had him going 10th to Winnipeg in his most recent mock draft and that seems like a good fit for him. Still, there is a chance the Oilers could get him and if they do, it would be a dream fit. Jarvis is a dangerous goal scorer who found the back of the net 42 times in 58 games this past season. As far as goal scoring goes, he’s one of the best prospects in the draft. It’s easy to envision a scenario where he quickly finds a home in the Oiler’s top six. 

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JACK QUINN (OTTAWA, OHL): I think Quinn is a little more likely to be there when the Oilers pick at 14th overall, but there is a real chance that he goes before Jarvis. Bob McKenzie’s final draft ranking had him at 10th overall but I’ve also seen a few rankings where he’s in the 14-16th overall range. Draft analyst Scott Wheeler (The Athletic) said “there’s nothing to dislike about Quinn’s game” and said that he could one day be a 30 goal scorer at the NHL level. TSN.ca even compared him to David Pasternak. If Quinn is there at 14th overall, Oilers fans should be very excited.

DAWSON MERCER (CHICOUTIMI, QMJHL): The first of two QMJHL players I’ll talk about, Mercer doesn’t have the same natural goal-scoring ability as other players in this draft range, but still, he scored 24 goals in 42 games last season and from all the reports I’ve read on him, he sounds like a hard-working player. He can also play centre or right-wing and I like that versatility. He wouldn’t be my first choice out of the players in this article, but he’s worth keeping in mind. He seems to be one of the more complete players in the draft and Craig Button from TSN even compared him to Blake Wheeler.

MAVRIK BOURQUE (SHAWINIGAN, QMJHL): Borque might be a little bit of a reach for the Oilers at 14th overall but I think he’s a very intriguing prospect. He scored 29 goals in 49 games this past season and his speed seems to be his best asset from what I’ve read. He’s listed as a centre but considering the fact that he’s under 6 feet tall, I wonder if he might be a better fit on the wing at the NHL level. I don’t think he has the same goal-scoring potential as Quinn or Jarvis, but if both of them are off the board, the Oilers should consider Bourque.

CONNOR ZARY (KAMLOOPS, WHL): I’ve seen Zary ranked as high as 13th and as low as 25th. He’s coming off a year that saw him score 38 goals in 57 games and he has all the tools to be a very good top-six player. He’s mainly a centre but his natural goal-scoring ability is enough for me to overlook that. I’m of the belief that a good player can shift from centre to the wing. His ability to play a high-tempo game and also think the game very well make him a very dangerous player. When I look at Zary, I look at the type of player who might be a perfect fit with Leon Draisaitl. Zary can both finish off chances and set up his linemates.

Those are the players I think would be good fits and could be available at 14th overall when the Oilers make their first-round selection. Obviously, Quinn and Jarvis would be the best fits but I wouldn’t be mad if the Oilers came away with one of the other three options. I left off players like Dylan Holloway and Hendrix Lapierre not because I don’t think they can be good NHLers but simply because I don’t think they’re going to be the top-six scoring winger that the Oilers need to add into their system.

There are other good options that might be available later in the draft as well. Jacob Perrault is a centre from the Sarnia Sting who scored 39 goals in 57 games this past season. He’s a centre but he has a great shot. If the Oilers wanted to trade down they could look at him or even Jan Mysak, who scored 15 goals in just 22 games with Hamilton in the OHL. If the Oilers decided to trade down and recoup a mid-round draft pick, they might be able to still get a very good player. With that being said, I would not even consider trading down if one of Jarvis or Quinn are available.

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Is there a player that you think I should have had on my list? Is there a player that I talked about that you think would be a perfect fit? Let me know!

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