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Ex-Edmonton Oilers executive Craig MacTavish explains the process behind drafting Stuart Skinner

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Photo credit:Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Woz
By Woz
9 months ago
Craig MacTavish has been a part of many key drafts with the Edmonton Oilers. He was the man who announced at the podium that the Oilers selected Leon Draisaitl in 2014 and Darnell Nurse the year prior and has been on the draft stage for many vital picks throughout franchise history.
Recently on OilersNow with Bob Stauffer, MacTavish revealed the Edmonton Oilers’ decision-making process behind selecting Stuart Skinner in the third round of the 2017 draft. MacTavish was the vice president of hockey operations between 2015 and 2019 so he would’ve been in and around the draft table when Peter Chiarelli was general manager.
“The Oilers stepped up because we lost [Joseph] Woll to the Leafs the year before. We were going to draft Woll, the big goalie the Leafs ultimately drafted,” MacTavish said. “I know Peter, we were talking at the draft table that we didn’t want to lose Skinner, so as we got into the third round we traded up so we didn’t lose him and it was a pretty astute move by Peter to get him in hindsight.”
That move by Peter Chiarelli at the time was at the cost of a former first-overall pick. In 2012, MacTavish was there when Nail Yakupov was drafted by the Oilers. Fast forward four years later and the Edmonton Oilers would trade Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues for a 2017 third-round pick (82nd) and Zachary Pochiro. The Oilers would then move that draft pick with the 126th pick for the 78th pick to select Stuart Skinner from the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
MacTavish been a part of the organization in many different roles over the years and has seen many different goalies. MacTavish has played with the likes of Grant Fuhr, Andy Moog, and Bill Ranford and was behind the bench when Dwayne Roloson and Tommy Salo were between the pipes.
On OilersNow he gave his insight on goaltending and the path ahead for Skinner.
“Mediocre goaltending is subtle, it’s not obvious. Good goaltending is obvious. So when you’re asking the question, ‘Is our goaltending good enough?’ then that’s the answer,” he said. “We were never asking that question with Fuhr or Dwayne Roloson. That was obvious, this guy was stopping things he shouldn’t have stopped.
“Skinner was good but he wasn’t great and I think it’s likely he’s going to be stronger this year because of those experiences. It’s hard to predict goaltending, you know it’s difficult to predict the development for goaltenders but he has everything. He’s a sharp kid, he’s a good kid, he’s a hard-working kid. He’s big and for me, goaltending is about the balance between the athletic and the technical.
“To me I think he had the technical down and it’s just mending the more athletic saves to the technical package, that is where I think his growth is going to come from.”
Skinner will be looking to build off of last season. He was nominated for the NHL’s rookie of the year award for his performance in the regular season with a .914 save percentage and 2.73 goals against average in 50 games played.
Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell are expected to provide each other with healthy competition for the crease as Campbell will be motivated to bounce back after an underwhelming first year with the Edmonton Oilers, only playing 36 games with a 3.16 goals against average and 0.888 save percentage.

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