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Edmonton Oilers trade up into first round, draft forward Sam O’Reilly 32nd overall

Edmonton Oilers draft pick Sam O'Reilly
Photo credit:Steven Ellis
Zach Laing
21 days ago
Here we thought the Edmonton Oilers wouldn’t do anything on the first night of the NHL draft.
Heading into the 2024 NHL Entry Draft Friday night, they had a second-round pick, a fifth-round pick and two in each of the sixth and seventh rounds.
But as the final picks ticked away at the end of the first round the Oilers sprung into action, trading a conditional first-round pick in 2025 or 2026 to the Flyers for the 32nd overall pick in the draft, the last in the first round. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported the condition of the pick is that it’s a top 12 protected pick for next season.
With it, they drafted 6’1″, 183 lb. forward Sam O’Reilly from the OHL’s London Knights.
O’Reilly just wrapped up his rookie season with the Knights in which he scored 20 goals and 56 points in 68 games, adding another five goals and 12 points in 16 playoff games. The Knights won the OHL Championship earning a berth into the Memorial Cup, where he scored one goal and four points in four games.
The 18-year-old right shot, who has played right-wing in the past but switched to centre this season, played the year prior for the London Nationals in the GOJHL, Ontario’s Jr. A league, where he scored 26 goals and 63 points in 35 games. He follows a similar path as teammate Easton Cowan, who spent his D-1 year in the Jr. A league, then was drafted in the first round of the 2023 draft by the Maple Leafs. Cowan, who had the same amount of goals and three fewer assists, was named this years OHL Most Outstanding Player.
In a draft floor interview with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Oilers CEO of hockey operations Jeff Jackson said the team’s head scout, Rick Pracey, had O’Reilly ranked higher than where they selected him.
“Our staff had him rated quite a bit higher than where he went,” Jackson said. “So Rick felt very strongly we were getting a player that would fit our mould.
“We’ve got to start getting our pipeline going and we feel very comfortable making the move today.”
Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis ranked O’Reilly as his 51st prospect in his final rankings:
O’Reilly has been one of the biggest movers in the draft rankings due to his play as a smart, two-way center. He had a solid playoff run, too, playing a great secondary role. O’Reilly was playing Jr. B with the London Nationals last year, but it didn’t take him long to get acquainted to the speed and tenacity of the OHL. He put up better numbers than Easton Cowan did last year and just below Denver Barkey, so that’s a good sign. O’Reilly is toolsy, which is important for a player his age.
In early June, Ellis described O’Reilly as someone who flew up draft rankings this season:
(He) didn’t put up a ton of points (at the Memorial Cup), kind of a weird tournament for London in general. It’s kind of like Easton Cowan last year where all it took was a really good second half for scouts to go “Oh yeah there is something here.” He was playing Junior B last year, he didn’t really know what type of role he was going to be playing this year but watching him in the Memorial Cup this year there were only a few guys who I felt were consistently better.
For him to go out there and control the puck he knows what he wants to do with it, he can play on any line with any guy whether that be Cowan or Barkey. He’s a guy that some scouts wonder if he is a late riser first-round pick, I think at best we are looking at a second-rounder but he was on nobody’s radar at the start of the season and has been such an important part of London’s championship run this year that I see a team take a chance.
 

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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