The Oilers continue the trend of drafting forwards with a quick path to the NHL with Reid Schaefer selection
Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis1 year ago
The Edmonton Oilers came into Day One of the 2022 NHL Draft on Thursday with the No. 29 overall pick but traded down three spots down in order to dump Zack Kassian’s contract.
Before getting into what the team has in Reid Schaefer, the player the Oilers wound up selecting with the No. 32 overall pick, let’s talk about the trade.
It’s become an annual tradition for the Oilers to use a buyout each summer but they managed to buck that trend this year by giving the Arizona Coyotes some draft capital to take the final two years of Kassian’s deal. The Oilers currently have roughly $4 million in dead money tied up in Milan Lucic, Andrej Sekera, and James Neal for 2022-23 and Neal’s $1,916,667 annual buyout penalty stretches for two more seasons so not adding yet another buyout on top of that is positive.
The cost that Holland paid to dump Kassian is pretty much in line with what you’d have expected based on what the Coyotes were charging for bad contracts last summer.
The New York Islanders gave Arizona two second-round picks and a third-round pick to dump Andrew Ladd, who had two years at $5.5 million left on his deal. Kassian is cheaper at $3.2 million annually for two years, so giving up one second and one third while also moving down a few spots in the first round seems reasonable. The second-round pick they gave up also isn’t until 2025, so the Oilers still have their 2023 and 2024 second-round picks to help them make win-now trades during their competitive window.
Now, of course, it’s far from ideal that Holland is having to give away draft picks in order to dump a player that he signed. But, at the very least, Holland put his ego aside and fixed a mistake. The Oilers need salary cap room this summer to improve their roster and sign a legitimate starting goaltender, and dumping $3.2 million makes life a lot easier.
So, big picture, the Kassian signing wound up being very costly, but the Oilers are better off today than they were yesterday.
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Thoughts on Reid Schaefer…
Schaefer is a prospect that I wrote about in my pre-draft series as a player who perfectly fits the mold of what the Oilers have been looking for in recent drafts.
Dylan Holloway and Xavier Bourgault, Edmonton’s top picks in 2020 and 2021, were both among the oldest players selected in the first round of their respective draft classes. The goal in making such selections is to have a player quickly contribute to the big-league club on an entry-level contract. We’ll see Holloway do that in 2022-23 and the plan is likely for Bourgault to do so in 2023-24.
Schaefer was born in September of 2003, so this is again a player who’s among the oldest of anybody selected in the first round of this year’s draft.
He’s a big guy at 6’3″, scouts say that he skates well, and his 32 goals across 66 games in the WHL last season indicates that he has finishing ability. It’s difficult to say if Schaefer has the skill to be a top-six power forward at the NHL level, but the profile of somebody with a big body who skates well and throws hits is a very good bet to be an NHL contributor in some capacity.
The Oilers left players on the table who have more top-level upside than Schaefer, such as Jagger Firkus and Lane Hutson, but as a team that’s in win-now mode in need of inexpensive, quality contributors, it makes sense why they opted to go with a player who seems to have a quick path to the NHL.
Next up, the Oilers will wait until the fifth round to select again. Their second-round pick went in the Brett Kulak trade, their third-round pick was moved in the Duncan Keith deal, and their fourth-round pick was used in last year’s Dmitri Kulikov trade.
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