The Oilers chose Connor McDavid will the first overall pick, to the surprise of no one. He was the best player in the draft, and I have no problem predicting he’s going to be a star in the NHL. But, once McDavid’s name had been called, the hard work began. It’s no secret the Oilers are weak on defence and in net, and GM Peter Chiarelli expressed his desire to fix those areas over the offseason. He didn’t waste much time.
Acquired defenceman Griffin Reinhart for the 16th and 33rd overall picks
The Oilers knew who they were getting in Griffin Reinhart, who played junior hockey for the Edmonton Oil Kings, the team he captained to a Memorial Cup victory. Reinhart is 21 years old, and was drafted by the New York Islanders 4th overall in 2012. He was highly regarded when he was a prospect, but he hadn’t been developing the way the Islanders hoped he would. Some other notable blueliners in his draft class are already fixtures in the league (Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Jacob Trouba, Olli Maatta), whereas Reinhart has only appeared in eight NHL games, posting one assist.
There have been knocks on his skating and his ability to keep the puck under pressure. He also hasn’t put up very strong offensive numbers, even though that wasn’t his projected strength when he was drafted. The price for Reinhart was high, I will admit. And there is no guarantee that he will become a regular NHL defenceman. But this is a guy who could become a reliable second-paring guy, and the Oilers need those too. I don’t want to judge this trade just yet, because the potential is there with Reinhart. He could be more than the Islanders think. And don’t start comparing this deal to the Dougie Hamilton trade. The Bruins wanted Nurse, and the Oilers weren’t going to do that. We need to give this one time to breathe before jumping all over it.
Acquired Cam Talbot and the 209th pick for the 57th, 79th and 184th picks
I had been adamant for a while that 27-year-old Cam Talbot, a veteran of 57 NHL games playing for the President’s Trophy winning New York Rangers was not worth a first-round pick, which was his rumored asking price. Talbot has never been a starter in this league. The Oilers defence is still raw and doesn’t exactly give goalies a lot of chances to shine. The risk on a Talbot was very high, and he may not be the answer. But, I actually like this deal for the Oilers. They didn’t give up a first-rounder for him. They didn’t move a prospect. He’s locked up for another year on the cheap, and is certainly a possibility to re-sign beyond that.
The Oilers desperately needed a goalie, and though there’s a chance Talbot will become another Scrivens or Fasth, there’s also a chance he could be better than we think. I’m going to put it this way for concerned Oiler fans: they need players to play. Yes the draft was deep, yes they could have gotten a good player at 57, but it still didn’t solve the goalie issue. I thought there were decent options on the free agent market. But, Chiarelli decided Talbot was the guy he wanted, and to his credit, I don’t think he over-payed. At least not in the way he could have (see: the Robin Lehner deal). I hope this works. Let’s play wait and see.
Acquired forward Brad Ross and the 107th pick for Martin Marincin
Some Oilers fans may be lamenting the loss of Marincin, who was often a lone bright spot on the Oilers blueline. He appeared in 85 games, and at age 23, it seems strange to already be giving up on him. But he provides little-to-no offence (one goal and 11 career points), and at his size, 6’4, the Oilers wanted and needed for physicality from him, which he didn’t provide enough of for their liking. Obviously, the team felt he was expendable, even though that will frustrate some fans who feel the Oilers give up on too many players they develop.
Brad Ross is a prospect, he hasn’t appeared in a regular season NHL game yet. The Oilers need to make room on the blueline, and they wanted some value back. I don’t know that they really got a great return, but what’s done is done. They didn’t see Marincin as a part of their plans, and they had to move him. That’s how it goes.
Acquired defenceman Eric Gryba for Travis Ewanyk and the 107th pick
This trade was an interesting one to me. In terms of what they gave up, Travis Ewanyk hasn’t played a game in the NHL. He’s a low-scoring centerman, and not part of the team’s future plans. As for Gryba, he’s a big guy, 6’4″ and 225 pounds, and he hits like a freight train. He’s certainly a must-needed physical presence for the Oilers on the back-end. He’s an Adam McQuaid-type player, a character guy who plays hard all the time. He’s not going to provide much offence, but he’s a legitimate NHL player. He’s not going be out-of-place on the Oilers blueline. It’s not the flashiest move, but Gryba is an upgrade over the likes of Keith Aulie, so that’s something.
The Oilers did select a goalie on the second day of the draft, selecting Miroslav Svoboda with the 208th pick that they acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Svoboda is a 20-year-old from the Czech Republic. He’s a fairly big guy at 6’3″ and 190 pounds.
What did you think about the Oilers draft weekend transactions? As always, have your say in the comments section below.
Marcy, a former hockey player, is a hockey correspondent on CTV News and TSN radio. She began her career as a Sports Journalist in 2009 and has been part of The Hockey Writers since 2010, where she is currently a senior writer and editor.