It’s all but officially announced that the Edmonton Oilers and new general manager Peter Chiarelli will announce Connor McDavid (McSavior, McJesus, Mickey D. or whatever nickname the hockey world has for him this week) as the first overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft. It’s a huge starting point having a generational talent arrive, let alone having it be your first pick with a new organization.
Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson has gone above and beyond at triggering the changes to the organization on the managerial side. Chiarelli, since arriving, has already started working on overhauling both the amateur and pro scouting departments for the team and even hired bench boss Todd McLellan, who coached Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 World Championships.
Even before the Oilers walk up to the draft podium, there will be plenty of change for the 2015-16 season. All said, the 2015 NHL Draft is going to be Chiarelli’s big coming out party in Edmonton as the new GM has six selections in the top 90 of what is being described as one of the deepest drafts, if not THE deepest in over a decade.
The list of picks the Oilers control are as follows:
- 1st round – 1st overall
- 1st round – 16th overall (from Pittsburgh)
- 2nd round – 32nd overall
- 2nd round – 57th overall (from Montreal)
- 3rd round – 79th overall (from Ottawa)
- 3rd round – 86th overall (from St. Louis)
- 4th round – 117th overall (from Montreal)
- 5th round – 124th overall
- 6th round – 154th overall
- 7th overall – 184th overall
As the draft approaches, here are the stories that likely require your attention.
Welcome To Edmonton Connor McDavid
The biggest story for the entire weekend, let alone the Oilers, is Connor McDavid being drafted in what can only be described as the steal of the century, from under the nose of the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres and GM Tim Murray are still getting one powerful generational talent, according to many scouts, in Jack Eichel, who is comparable if not better than most first overall selections since the 2005 Sidney Crosby draft.
If it wasn’t for McDavid, Eichel would be the top player in this draft and deservedly so.
Either way, it will be a magical moment and what looks to be a turning point for the Oilers’ perpetual rebuild.
Is Chiarelli Planning A Boston Reunion?
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire apparently, and the Chiarelli-ex-Bruins factor is bringing some major smoke to Edmonton right now. Rumors are rampant that Milan Lucic might be on the trade block after all, with new Bruins GM Don Sweeney looking to shake up his roster in a major way. This could be a changing move for both franchises, but don’t expect the Oilers to get a discount because Sweeney and Chiarelli used to work together.
Even though Lucic, 27, had a down year with 44 points in 81 games, the Bruins are bound to get a king’s ransom for the power forward, who is a UFA next summer. Boston reporter Joe Haggerty believes that the Lucic camp will seek $7M per season over a seven-year offer either through an extension with the Bruins themselves or on the UFA market. Either way, the guy is going to get paid.
Is it worth the Oilers to offer up Jordan Eberle, who has forever been linked to the Bruins in the rumor mill, should a trade for Lucic take place? As much as Lucic in an Oiler uniform is enticing, messing with the potential one-two punch of icing a Taylor Hall – Connor McDavid-led unit followed by a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle unit might be a little too rich for Chiarelli and company this early into the new regime’s reign in Edmonton.
— The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) June 18, 2015
The other name being brought up is Dougie Hamilton, who Chiarelli drafted ninth overall in 2011. Hamilton, now on the verge of being a legit top-pairing defenseman and having the potential to net a substantial offer-sheet as an RFA this summer, has been linked to the Oilers, obviously due to the Chiarelli connection. But are there any real legs to this, other than hockey bloggers and writers just trying to put a story to an easy connection? If the rumours addressed on Edmonton radio show “Oilers Now” are true as many, including what host Bob Stauffer believes, Hamilton could net a $6.5M per offer-sheet.
The Bruins currently have roughly $8 million to re-sign Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid, let alone a backup goalie and four forwards to ice an NHL roster next season. Expect teams to prey on the Bruins’ cap problems. If Edmonton does sign Hamilton to an offer-sheet of that magnitude, just be wary it’ll cost the Oilers a first, second and third round pick according to the CBA.
— CSNNE.com (@CSNNE) June 23, 2015
Draisaitl Not Going Anywhere
The rumors on Draisaitl being used as a likely trade chip should have died off when the was named the MVP of the 2015 Memorial Cup with the Kelowna Rockets. Instead his name continues to pop up.
Consider the rumours squashed with Draisaitl attending the Oilers draft party at Rexall Place, unless of course the Oilers really wanted to put last year’s third overall pick in an awkward position. Chiarelli also went on record with local “Oilers Now” and discussed Draisaitl’s potential future plans with the club. He is leaning towards having Draisaitl compete for a spot on the wing next season with the main club or developing as the top-line center in the AHL.
Draisaitl is going to be a part of the core for this team and, long-term, fits better on the wing with the main roster.
It’s too early to give up on Draisaitl, a player that gives the Oilers’ top-nine a mix of size and creativity, something the organization has been sorely lacking for the better part of a decade.
Oilers, Sabres and Flames jockeying for Talbot
Rangers GM Glen Sather has the domino that is waiting to fall to trigger the goalie market this summer in Talbot, who has been one of the best backups in the league over the past two seasons.
In 57 career games, Talbot boasts a 33-15-3 record and 2.00 GAA and 0.931 save percentage.
Sather knows he has the piece with the most interest on the market and, according to Larry Brooks of the NY Post, multiple teams are interested and it’s looking like a combination of second round picks or possibly a second and a prospect could get the deal done. Brooks believes the Rangers are ultimately holding out for a first round pick.
Sabres, Oilers, Stars, Sharks, perhaps Flames in mix for Talbot.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) June 25, 2015
Arizona, Buffalo, Edmonton and Toronto all own picks in the top 4 of the draft and will be hard pressed to move those picks outside of a mind-boggling package, but they all hold a second first-rounder they could offer up.
Oilers Possibly Moving Late Rounder For Green’s Negotiating Rights
Green went on record a few weeks ago stating a desire to re-sign with the Washington Capitals, but it doesn’t look like a deal was in place. According to CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley, his agent Craig Oster stated that Green will in fact test the market on July 1.
Green will be 30-years old by the start of the season and the Oilers could potentially deal a later round pick, similar to what the Colorado Avalanche did when they dealt their sixth round pick to the Bruins for the negotiating rights for Carl Soderberg.
Mike Green’s agent: ‘We’re proceeding with the full expectation that Mike will be a free agent on July 1.’ #CapitalsTalk
— Chuck Gormley (@ChuckGormleyCSN) June 25, 2015
It wouldn’t hurt to move either the 154th or 184th selections if the Oilers thought they had a decent chance to land Green, who at this stage in his career isn’t the No. 1 defenseman he was a few years ago. He’s still capable of playing top-pairing minutes and can take the offensive pressure off of Justin Schultz, who struggled last season. Green was stuck playing roughly third-pairing minutes with the Capitals but, remember, the team boasted a deep defense with John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik.
Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal argues he wouldn’t be a good fit for the Oilers. Still, Green posted 10 goals and 45 points in 72 games for the Capitals.
Could Chiarelli trade either the sixth or seventh round selections and re-sign Green to a $24 million/4-year deal? He’ll get it on the UFA market on July 1 and the Oilers have roughly $20 million in cap space to work with this summer.
Plenty Of Options For Oilers’ 16th overall pick
It’s no secret the Oilers are needing a top-pairing defenseman to take the pressure off the Schultz and Oscar Klefbom pairing, as well as the development of prospects like Darnell Nurse and Martin Marincin.
Chiarelli is actively looking to shop the pick to address the back-end woes. But if he doesn’t, do the Oilers use it to trade down and obtain multiple picks? Does he borrow a page from former GM Craig MacTavish, who did this in the 2013 draft and it worked out favourably?
The other option is to go after goaltender Ilya Samsonov, the top-ranked goaltender in the 2015 draft. The Russian netminder stands 6 feet 4 inches and has an athletic 203-pound frame with the makings of a future starting goalie. There are the Andrei Vasilevskiy comparisons, who went 19th overall to Tampa Bay in 2012. The sticking point, however, is that the jury is still out, unlike it was with Vasilevskiy, who had a solid showing at the World Juniors in his draft year and was firmly cemented as the top goaltender of his draft.
— The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) June 22, 2015
The other is the russian factor with Samsonov having signed a three-year deal with KHL Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Can Chiarelli and the management group remain somewhat hands off on Samsonov for the next few seasons, letting him develop in the KHL, or would they want to be sold that Samsonov will come to North America in the near future to develop within the Oilers system?
Lastly Conditional Picks Are A Factor
At the Oilers choice, they can elect to give the Boston Bruins one of their second round selections in either the 2015, 2016 or 2017 drafts. The same goes for the San Jose Sharks, with the Oilers having an option on a third round selection in either the 2015, 2016 or 2017 drafts.
With this being Chiarelli’s first draft at the Oilers’ table, it’s unlikely he’d be willing to drop a pivotal pick to his former club with the current trade market and depth of the draft pool. The 32nd and 57th pick will come in handy as valuable trade chips to pursue a goaltender in Cam Talbot (New York Rangers) or even be in a favourable spot to draft arguably the top goaltender and projected future starter in the draft (Samsonov).
It’s more probable that the latter of the two third round selections (79th, 86th) get moved to the Sharks, but having six selections in the Top 90 is an envious position.