Oilers’ 2022 NHL Draft Predictions

The 2022 NHL Entry Draft is just about here, and the Edmonton Oilers have four draft picks, including the 29th overall pick in the first round, before they must wait until the fifth round to draft again. They also have their sixth and seventh-round picks. Here’s a look at what position(s) the Oilers should target in the draft, if they should move up or down, and if a trade will be pulled off.

What Positions the Oilers Should Target

Taking a look at what the Oilers have in their system, Xavier Bourgault, Carter Savoie, and Tyler Tullio will be making the jump to the American Hockey League (AHL) and playing in Bakersfield next season, while there’s a chance Matvey Petrov will join them. That brings in a great deal of high-end talent and internal competition for the Condors as the Oilers haven’t had this good of a forward prospect group before. They also have Dylan Holloway, who should be with the Oilers full-time next season, while Ryan McLeod has already graduated and played a key role for the big club last season. Edmonton should be set on forwards, but with four picks, they may decide to grab one with one of their late-round picks.

Xavier Bourgault Shawinigan Cataractes
Xavier Bourgault of the Shawinigan Cataractes (Jean Levasseur)

As for their defence, Evan Bouchard is already an impactful top-four defenceman, while Philip Broberg is ready to play on the Oilers all season. Markus Niemelainen should see time in both the NHL and AHL, but should soon graduate. There’s Dmitri Samorukov, who is the Oilers’ next best option but there are still many question marks about him. Luca Munzenberger, the Oilers’ third-round draft pick last season, will need more years to develop, so a real possibility in the first round is to choose a defenceman who can provide the organization with the next prospect to look forward to on the back-end. Options for them may include Lian Bichsel or Sam Rinzel for both the left and right sides.

There are no goaltenders ranked high enough for the Oilers to consider using their first-round draft pick, and while Stuart Skinner should finally get a spot on the roster, they have Ryan Fanti and Oliver Rodrigue to split time in the AHL next season. There’s always 2023 when the Oilers have all of their picks besides their fourth-rounder, so drafting someone in the second or third round with one of those could be of better use.

Will the Oilers Move Up or Down in the Draft?

The Oilers have the fewest number of draft picks in franchise history, with four, but that’s assuming they will be quiet at the draft and not trade down to add another pick (from “Edmonton Oilers’ needs at the NHL Draft: centres, left-shot d-men, maybe a goalie,” Edmonton Journal, 7/6/22). I don’t think it’s necessary to drop unless a team is willing to offer another third-round pick to move back just a few spots. That happened last year when the Minnesota Wild offered up a third and their first-round selection that was only a few picks after the Oilers. Edmonton ended up with Bourgault and Munzenberger instead of what many thought would be goaltender Jesper Wallstedt. We’ll see if that was the right choice, but Bourgault had himself a stellar season, and Munzenberger is well on his way.

Luca Munzenberger Edmonton Oilers
Luca Munzenberger, Edmonton Oilers 2021 Draft Pick (German Ice Hockey Federation)

The Oilers shouldn’t be actively looking to teams to move down, but it wouldn’t hurt them to move back a few picks from 29. It’s not like they’re picking much higher, and one player to the next could be a huge difference. The Oilers have a number of prospects graduating this season to the AHL, and with six picks in each of the next two seasons, should be fine to refill their cabinets with prospects.

Possible Trades Edmonton May Pull Off at the Draft

Four names have constantly come up as the Oilers approach this offseason with little money and impactful players to sign. Those names include Tyson Barrie, Jesse Puljujarvi, Zack Kassian, and Warren Foegele. Here’s a look at why these four players are on the trade block.

Barrie is a luxury the Oilers can’t afford, playing on the third pairing, as they have younger and cheaper players in Bouchard and Broberg. The $4.5 million for each of the next two seasons can go a long way in helping other areas of need. As for the trio of what is now depth forwards, Kassian is making $3.2 million for two more seasons, while Foegele is earning $2.75 million for the next two. Both are taking up too much of the cap space for what they provided last season and will likely continue to provide. There is interest in Puljujarvi, but as the youngest with the most potential of the four and a restricted free agent, he could garner the best return; but a deal would need to help the Oilers in the short term.

Related: 4 Oilers’ Early Draft Steals of the Past 5 Years

The hope is that none (most likely Kassian) of these players will require a draft pick to move their contract out of Edmonton. As for the other three, there is a good chance a draft pick could be coming back their way.

What to watch for is if the Oilers can pull off a trade or if general manager Ken Holland will wait and execute his moves after the draft. Edmonton may not be in the best position for this draft, but recent drafts have provided them with some excellent prospects in the later rounds and their first-round picks have been hitting.

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