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Off the Top of My Head: Oilers at the NHL Draft, Evan Bouchard’s next contact, and more

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Robin Brownlee
1 year ago
Without a first-round pick at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville on June 29 unless GM Ken Holland swings a deal to get one, we know the Edmonton Oilers won’t make a selection until the 56th overall pick in the second round.
As tough as it is to figure out who teams might take after the top-five prospects, it’s even more of a task to get it right when you get that deep. That said, my favorite part of all the drafts I attended was creating a short list of the likeliest candidates to be the first pick by the Oilers — based on team needs and any information I could coax from loose-lipped hockey ops people, team scouts and player agents.
With the caveat it could turn on a dime at any point between today and June 29, veteran Post Media scribe Jim Matheson has taken a run at compiling his short list of the prospects team director of amateur scouting and player personnel Tyler Wright and his staff might be looking at. We will see plenty more of these team-specific lists and mock drafts leading into the draft when the Cup final is over. Matty’s list looks like this.
I’ve added links to sites ranking the players above and Daily Faceoff rankings are in brackets. For more on how Matheson came up with these players as possibilities, you can read his piece here. For what it’s worth, I don’t see much of a chance that Sawachyn or Halttunen will still be available with the 56th pick.
As for Gajan, this is his second time through the draft and he’s coming off a great performance at the World Junior Championship. Gajan might be a fit given how light the Oilers are when it comes to organizational goaltending prospects.

ABOUT EVAN

Apr 23, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard (2) moves the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no need to stage a telethon for Evan Bouchard because he’s going to get paid in a big way at some point. Until then, he’ll make ends meet with a bridge deal and an AAV of $4 million or so because Holland doesn’t have the cap space to offer more money and more term.
Even so, one glance at playoff scoring stats for defencemen is another reminder Bouchard’s timing is bad. After putting up 8-32-40 during the regular season on the heels of 12-31-43 in 2021-22, his 4-13-17 through 12 games in just two rounds will have him finish atop scoring for blueliners this post-season. Nobody is close. That would’ve been a nice bargaining chip.
While Bouchard will still demand a sizeable chunk of Holland’s cap space this summer, he’ll be looking at a lot more AAV and term down the road even if he just produces at the rate he is at now. To borrow from Captain Obvious, Bouchard’s in a good position.

A GREAT CAUSE

With the many years former Oilers’ player Kevin Lowe spent as coach GM and POHO as part of hockey ops during several lean seasons here, he’s been called pretty much everything in the book. Lowe is an old pro at taking a razzing – although I recall there was a time when you delivered it at your own risk.
Lowe got an earful again on Friday, this time hearing it from the likes of Georges Laraque and a roster of roasters overseen by Jason Gregor in a fundraiser for KidSport Edmonton at the Edmonton Convention Centre.
Among its many programs, KidSport helps subsidize registration fees for families facing economic barriers and supports more than 70 different sports. A tip of the cap to everybody who took part in raising over $100,000 and making the important work KidSport does possible.

THE BIG CAKE

The Winnipeg Jets operate in one of the NHL’s smallest buildings in the Canada Life Centre and in one of the smallest markets, but they’ve got big money backing the franchise with co-owner David Thomson, who has been partnered with Mark Chipman and True North Sports and Entertainment since 2011.
Thomson, 65, is reported to be worth $55.4 billion and he’s the only NHL owner listed among the 10 wealthiest sports franchise owners by Forbes and Bloomberg. By comparison, Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz is listed by Forbes as being worth $4.4 billion.

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