The 2017 NHL Draft is set to take place on June 23-24. The Edmonton Oilers will make their first of eight selections starting at 22nd overall. Edmonton has picks in every round except the second. That pick was sent to the Boston Bruins as compensation for signing Peter Chiarelli as general manager. Since joining the Oilers in 2015, Chiarelli and the scouting staff are doing their best to improve the organization’s long-standing draft woes.
Outside of Connor McDavid, the Oilers have added Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Ziyat Paigin, Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyler Benson and Dylan Wells. All of them project to one day become decent NHL players. It’s not a bad track record, especially to acquire all those players in just two years. That said, Chiarelli will look to add to a prospects cupboard that has also become quite bare.
2017 Draft Picks
|3||82 (From St. Louis)|
|5||126 (From Vancouver)|
The recent graduations of several players to the main club is the biggest reason for Edmonton’s farm system drying up. Another reason is the failure to draft anything substantial outside the first round which has been a long-term issue with the franchise. Of all those picks between 2011-2014, only Anton Slepyshev and Jujhar Khaira are competing for regular minutes in Edmonton.
If the Oilers are going to build upon the success of their last two years at the draft, they’ll have their work cut out for them. This year’s draft is a crapshoot at best. Outside of Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier, all the draft prognosticators have entirely different projections of where players might go. A guy who’s ranked fifth on one list might be 15th on someone else’s.
Organizational Overview: Goalies, Defense
Goaltending: Edmonton is quietly putting together some solid goaltending prospects that look like they have NHL futures ahead of them. Dylan Wells, last year’s fifth-round pick, seems like he has the potential to be a future starter. The Oilers also added college free agents Shane Starrett and Nick Ellis over the last two seasons. The trio has given some solid depth behind leading goaltending prospect Laurent Brossoit who was promoted to the backup job in 2016-17.
It doesn’t hurt to get a netminder in this year’s draft considering this is regarded as a relatively deep class for goalies, but it’s not a priority. Expect the Oilers to use one of their mid-range picks on a netminder to keep the pipeline full.
GOALTENDING & DEFENSE PROSPECTS (LESS THAN 40 NHL GP)
|Goaltenders||Left Defense||Right Defense|
|Laurent Brossoit||Griffin Reinhart||Ethan Bear|
|Nick Ellis||Jordan Oesterle||Ryan Mantha|
|Shane Starrett||Dillon Simpson||Caleb Jones|
|Dylan Wells||David Musil||Ziyat Paigin|
|Eetu Laurikainen||Ben Betker||Filip Berglund|
|Markus Niemelainen||William Lagesson|
|John Marino||Matthew Cairns|
Defense: Edmonton picked up four defencemen last year, after grabbing Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear in 2015. Ryan Mantha, an undrafted free agent, also joins the likes Dillon Simpson, Filip Berglund, Markus Niemelainen, Ziyat Paigin, William Lagesson and Matthew Cairns as some of the more promising defensive prospects in the system.
Snagging a defenseman early isn’t a pressing need, especially seeing where the organization’s biggest need is (see below). If the Oilers can use at least two of their picks on blueliners, they’ll be able to manage if they end up losing Griffin Reinhart (expansion draft) or Jordan Oesterle (free agency) this summer.
Organizational Overview: Forwards
Forwards: The Oilers biggest need is at forward mostly due to the graduation of several prospects to the main club. Outside of Jesse Puljujarvi and Tyler Benson, Edmonton’s hard pressed for scoring. The Oilers AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, had one of the most anemic offenses in the entire minor league as well. If that’s any indication of what the future holds, the Oilers will need to find some more scoring forwards through the draft.
FORWARD PROSPECTS (LESS THAN 40 NHL GP)
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Jujhar Khaira||Joe Gambardella||Patrick Russell|
|Joey LaLeggia||Greg Chase||Aidan Muir|
|Braden Christoffer||Kyle Platzer||Henrik Samuelsson|
|Zach Pochiro||Aapeli Rasanen|
|Tyler Benson||Tyler Vesel|
|Graham McPhee||Bogdan Yakimov|
Expect Edmonton to use their 22nd overall pick on a forward. TSN’s Craig Button had the Oilers taking a diminutive point producer, Kailer Yamamoto, in his mock draft. Yamamoto is arguably one of the smallest players in his draft and generously listed at 5’9″ and 160 pounds. Other players available around that pick include:
POTENTIAL PICKS AT 22ND OVERALL
|LW Isaac Ratcliffe||Guelph||67||28||54||At 6’6″ and 195 pounds, could be a top six power forward|
|LW Kristian Vesalainen||Frolunda||26||1||6||Big power forward, potential top six forward|
|C Lias Andersson||HV71||42||9||19||Undersized two-way forward, untapped offensive potential|
|C Robert Thomas||London||66||16||66||Two-way forward, underrated offensive abilities|
|RW Kole Lind||Kelowna||70||30||87||Lanky goal scorer, plays a high tempo skill game|
|RW Kailer Yamamoto||Spokane||65||42||99||Offensively gifted, diminutive point producer|
Jordan Eberle’s name has been in the rumor mill since the playoffs finished. The New York Islanders seem to be the team most commonly linked to Eberle with a possible return being either Travis Hamonic or Ryan Strome. Both Islander players, like Eberle himself, are coming off down years. It’s likely that the Oilers pull the trigger on an Eberle trade this weekend.
It’d be a near miracle if the Oilers found a suitor to take the contracts of Benoit Pouliot or Mark Fayne off their hands. Edmonton just doesn’t have the right combination of picks or assets to pull off this kind of trade.
Las Vegas is the latest team to express interest in pending unrestricted free agent Kris Russell. The Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs are also potential suitors, and it’s believed the cost might be $16 million over four years. It’s a steep price but ultimately might be the price Edmonton has to pay to keep Russell. If Vegas is really keen on Russell, the Oilers could end up trading his rights.
Lastly in recent years Edmonton’s shown they’re not against trading down and acquiring more picks. If there’s an opportunity for the Oilers to get a player they want further down the list, expect Chiarelli to wheel a few picks.
The 2017 NHL Draft kicks off at 5 p.m. (MT) on June 23. For all our draft coverage keep checking in with THW for prospect profiles, trades, and mock drafts which you can find in our draft guide.