With the Edmonton Oilers picking 29 prospects deep in the first round and having just four selections at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal, it’s a safe bet GM Ken Holland’s most important work this off-season will come via trades in the next several days and via agency when the market opens July 13.
At 29th, the Oilers haven’t made a first-round pick this late since joining the NHL in 1979. The latest was 2005 when they snagged Andrew Cogliano from the St. Michael’s Buzzers – Cogliano has 1,140 regular season games on his resume and just hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. Given the four first overall picks the Oilers had in a span of six years not so long ago, complaining about picking 29th would be bad form.
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The Oilers are also going into this draft with the fewest selections they’ve ever had – four. Barring changes through trades, they’ll pick 29th in the first round and don’t pick again until the fifth round (158th). They also pick in the sixth round (190th) and the seventh (222nd). They’ve had five picks on three occasions.
It’s difficult enough to figure out who a team might be looking at once you get outside the top-10 rated prospects and even the top-five in thin years, but I’ve got no idea who Holland and Tyler Wright like where they pick. It doesn’t help that there there’s a fair amount of variance in rankings this year based on who you trust. Sam Cosentino at Sportsnet has it this way. Here’s ESPN and Bob McKenzie’s list of prospects. 
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Simply put, your guess is as good as mine. That doesn’t mean that Holland, who spent his years as GM in Detroit picking outside the top 20 and often outside the first round with all the winning he did there, and Wright don’t have names in mind, we just don’t know who they are. It’s also possible, even likely, they could trade down for an extra pick. We’ll find out soon enough.
“I think the hard part with this draft is nobody’s really separated themselves to really be that good player,” Wright told Bob Stauffer. “So, where they are in the development process, if they’ve been stalled in certain areas from the lack of playing time or development because of a pause in whatever league they were playing in, a bunch of different variables come into play.”
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THE BUZZ

May 18, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (13) collides with Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16) during the first period in game one of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome.
  • It seems like most of the buzz around the Oilers involves speculation about Holland moving Jesse Puljujarvi, but the more significant story to me is Evander Kane. The back-and-forth on Puljujarvi from fans on polar opposite sides of any debate about him gets tiring.I’d like to see Holland get the kid re-signed if he wants to stay and if the ask in term and dollars make sense because that right side is thin without him, but word is he wants out and is being shopped. My best guess is he’s gonzo by the end of the week to a throaty chorus of moaning and groaning from a sizeable chunk of the fan base. 
  • The situation with Kane is completely up in the air because we don’t know yet what’s going to happen in his grievance with the San Jose Sharks. Stauffer, as in the know as anybody when it come to the Oilers, has suggested Kane is interested in a long-term deal with the Oilers and that Holland has an interest in bringing him back. Sure.It’s all a lot of financial footsy at this point because the money has to work and right now that seems like a stretch. Could that change? Sure, if Holland can convince somebody to take some of Zack Kassian’s contract and move Tyson Barrie on top of trading Puljujarvi. That’s a lot of moving pieces.
  • Allan Mitchell has written a book, On the Clock, about the Oilers and the entry draft. My guess is it’s pretty good and worth checking out. You can do that here. 

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Previously by Robin Brownlee