Draft Day Two: #56 Will be the Focus

Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
11 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers are scheduled to make their first selection of the 2023 NHL entry draft at pick #56, and they will also be trying to trade Kailer Yamamoto, who wears #56. Will either move occur on day two?
As of last night, the Oilers weren’t close on a trade for Yamamoto, but last year they weren’t close to trading Zack Kassian, and then a deal came together quickly. They are hoping for a similar scenario today. If they can’t trade Yamamoto by tomorrow morning, he will most likely be placed on waivers for the purpose of a buyout.
As for pick #56, director of player personnel and director of amateur scouting, Tyler Wright, believes there are some quality players available at that spot.
“We have a group of clusters, I like to call them clusters,” said Wright. “Our preparation is we prepare for the draft, but then you re-group after round one because no draft goes according to what you expect.
“You need to give yourself options with a cluster of a group of guys who are available, and maybe you trade up to get them, and you have a cluster of guys who are available, but could we trade down and get two of them if we were able to find a trading partner and move back (in the draft)?”
Trading up seems unlikely according to Ken Holland. The Oilers would need to include a draft pick from next year and they’d prefer to have more draft capital at next year’s trade deadline. Trading back is much more likely, and the pre-draft preparation is key to making a quick decision. Day two of the draft is almost like rapid fire. The picks come quickly, and if you want to trade up or down you need to act fast.
“As we get closer to pick 56, you get a better understanding of what options are there,” said Wright. “Are you going to make the pick because a guy slid that we had higher, or are we better off getting two guys and trading back? It all depends who is available when we get within a few picks.”
Some wondered whether the Oilers would trade this year’s second rounder for a later pick this year and a second rounder next year. It would give them more draft picks to use in trades leading up to the deadline. The theory makes sense, but in reality, it doesn’t happen very often.
“Draft picks are currency in a cap world, and the more picks you have coming up to the trade deadline the better we are,” said Wright. “Is that (trading for a 2024 pick) something that would be in play? Absolutely, but it doesn’t happen very often. I think the last time it happened was Tampa traded their second rounder the following year and a later pick in the 2020 draft to Montreal and Tampa selected Jack Finley, but you might have to double check.”
Wright was correct. At the 2020 draft, Tampa traded the 124th pick in 2020 (fourth rounder) and their second round pick in 2021 to Montreal for the 57th pick. Tampa ended up winning the Cup in 2021, so the pick was 64 in 2021 and Montreal selected Oliver Kapanen. It doesn’t happen often.
The Oilers’ biggest organizational need, depth wise, is a right-shot, puck moving defenceman. They have none after Evan Bouchard. Of course teams always want to draft the best player available, but if things are close that is a position they’d like to fill. They’d also like a right-shot centre or winger.



Dec 13, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Klim Kostin (21) flips the puck forward against the Nashville Predators during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Josh Bailey and a 2026 second round pick were traded to Chicago for future considerations (nothing) this morning. This is a pure salary dump. Bailey has $5m cap hit for one more year. Essentially NYI paid a second rounder to free up $5m in cap space, but he was owed $3.5m in actual salary. Would the Oilers move a pick for a team to take Yamamoto? Possibly, but they could just keep him and then buy him out and carry a $433,000 cap hit this year and $533K next year. Bailey is nine years older than Yamamoto and had fewer goals last year. Yamamoto carries a $3.1m cap hit, $3.2m in actual dollars, and the Bailey trade outlines what it might cost to move Yamamoto.
It seems more likely the Oilers won’t qualify Klim Kostin by tomorrow’s deadline, but that doesn’t guarantee he won’t return. The Oilers are leery of Kostin filing for arbitration, which he would if he was qualified. The risk is he becomes an unrestricted free agent, and maybe a team is willing to pay him more than what the Oilers want. But as Evander Kane learned last year, the grass isn’t always greener in free agency. Will Kostin get more than $1.3-$1.5m on the open market? We will find out. His first priority is to remain in the NHL. The KHL has submitted him an offer, but so far his priority is staying in North America.

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