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How did experts grade the Edmonton Oilers 2024 NHL draft?

Edmonton Oilers Sam O'Reilly
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
14 days ago
Remember when the NHL draft happened last weekend?
That was fun.
The Edmonton Oilers traded up into the first round to select Sam O’Reilly, a 6’1, 183 lb. forward from the OHL’s London Knights. He’s a player primed for a much bigger role with them next year, even after a draft season in which he scored 20 goals and 56 points in 68 games.
In my eyes, the Oilers had a solid draft. While I’m not a big fan of moving a future first-round pick given that Edmonton will be trade deadline buyers in each of the next two years, O’Reilly seems like a good bet. Word on the street is that Eemil Vinni is a really solid goaltending prospect, which is good, but goalies are voodoo.
The pick of Connor Clattenburg could be their “worst” on paper. He’s a big overage winger who didn’t put up much offence. Those types of players usually don’t turn out. But with their final four picks, the Oilers drafted for upside and I’m a fan of the Wakely pick. He scored a staggering 39 goals and 104 points in 66 OHL games this year, and played two seasons with Oilers prospect Matvei Petrov in North Bay. The Oilers will know this kid well.
Here’s a look at all the players the Oilers drafted, what experts had to say of their picks and how they graded them.

Daily Faceoff – C+

It was a weird draft for Edmonton, who had some picks I liked and others I’m not too sure about. O’Reilly could end up being a steal based on how well he played near the end of the year, and Vinni was one of the top goalies in the draft. I don’t see any of the others being NHLers, but I do think it was smart to take a chance on Dalyn Wakely after his 104-point season in the OHL as an overage draft prospect. – Steven Ellis

ESPN – B-

The Oilers had a mixed-bag draft. Taking a swing on Sam O’Reilly with the last pick of the first round may prove to be a good one given his performance in the playoffs for the London Knights. His development has been fun to watch, and London is a good spot for him to develop into a player who will be a middle-six contributor in the NHL.
Eemil Vinni was a solid value pick and one of the best goaltenders in the draft class. Dalyn Wakely had an excellent season as an overage player and is worth the late-round shot. He’s physical, wins puck battles and saw his production more than double season over season. If he’s a victim of COVID development delay, the Oilers may have gotten a sneaky steal here. – Rachel Doerrie

The Athletic – C

Edmonton made an aggressive play to come up to get Sam O’Reilly. I didn’t have him rated as high as the Oilers did, but if, like a lot of London players before him, he continues to develop well, I could see myself revising that stance a year from now if he has a big offensive season in the OHL. Eemil Vinni is the most athletic goaltender in the draft and has a real chance to play games for an organization that desperately needs goaltender talent in the system. – Corey Pronman

FloHockey – C

The Oilers got aggressive to get back into the first round to take Sam O’Reilly. They wouldn’t have been able to get that player without it and I don’t begrudge a team for being aggressive for players they value. Eemil Vinni was one of the top goalies available in the draft. Edmonton also emphasized size in this class with every pick being over 6-foot ending with Bauer Berry, who is a throwback physical defenseman who really came into his own this year in the USHL. – Chris Peters

The Score – C

The Oilers aggressively moved into the first round by conditionally trading next year’s pick. They did so to get a riser in O’Reilly, who was great in the postseason for an elite London Knights team. A competitive center, O’Reilly projects to be a strong defensive pivot who could play in a top nine.
Sundin earned positive reviews from Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Hayley Wickenheiser at the team’s development camp last summer. The 6-foot-2 rearguard has a physical game and played a regular shift in the Swedish playoffs. – Kyle Cushman

Bleacher Report – C

The Oilers’ high opinion of O’Reilly is evident in that the Stanley Cup runners-up gave up a conditional first-round pick to get him. A standout performer in the OHL playoffs, where he recorded five goals and 12 points in 16 postseason games to lead the London Knights to the OHL championship, O’Reilly climbed draft boards last season as he worked on developing into a two-way player. Before trading up, Edmonton wasn’t slated to pick until late in Round 2, and the jump was costly. With Leon Draisaitl’s future with team uncertain, draft capital would likely be more valuable for the Oilers at the 2025 trade deadline, so losing that pick now is a risky move. – Julia Stumbaugh

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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