Well that was exciting. The Oilers went into Friday’s Draft and picked up the best player in a generation. Connor McDavid is now a member of the Oilers, just let that sink in for a moment. We knew that the center from the Erie Otters was going to be called by Peter Chiarelli, but we weren’t sure what else was going to happen, and a lot did. Let’s Review;
Connor McDavid – No Surprise here, again just let it sink in. Connor is an Oiler.
Griffin Reinhart – The Oilers were supposed to be next up on the draft stage at number 16, but instead Gary Bettman walked on and announced a trade. The Oilers had traded the 16th overall pick and the 33rd pick to the New York Islanders for 2012 4th overall pick Griffin Reinhart. I’m not sure if I’m in the majority here but I like the move and here is why.
The Oilers appear to have been drafting for need here, and we know the need is bigger, stronger, more competitive defensemen. Grif, drafted 3 years ago, won a Memorial Cup with the Oil Kings and has already spent a full season in the AHL. The talk is he’s ready to be an NHL D-man as early as next year. Not bad to trade a pick and immediately skip the 1st few years of development. There was some talk that he’s been regressing, but I’m not so sure. You can read an excellent article on him here with views from pro scouts.
Cam Talbot – YES YES YES. Talbot was my 1st choice all along to improve the Oilers between the pipes next season. Nothing is a given, but Talbot has done nothing but improve since he started his professional career back in 2010. He did an excellent job in relief of injured started Henrik Lundqvist this past season, so well in fact that he was talked about as Rangers MVP this season.
If you’d like to compare Talbot to some of the other goaltenders that were available you should really check out this work by Woodguy, I think you’ll like his results.
Eric Gryba – Another move I like. Gryba comes to Edmonton as a bottom pairing defenseman, but I think there is some room to move up the chart for him. He’s huge, skates pretty well for a big guy, aggressive and can win battles in the corners. Much like Reinhart he is exactly the kind of player that Chia mentioned he wants on his version of the Oilers going forward. The interesting thing about Chiarelli’s two adds on defense is the Oilers are chalk full of bottom pairing guys, you’d have to think there is another shoe to drop and there are more changes to the D coming.
Chiarelli went into this draft with 10 picks through the 7 rounds, but due to the trades mentioned the Oilers walked away with just 6 new prospects.
Caleb Jones – 117th overall. The younger brother of Nashville Predators D man has followed in his footsteps. Caleb is with the US National Development team. He’s not a big as his brother but he admits he plays the same style of game. Jonathan Willis has a good write up on him over at Cult of Hockey.
Ethan Bear – 124th overall. The 2nd defenseman taken by the Oilers, he’s listed at 5’11 and 201lbs. He doubled his point production last year compared to his first year with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL, and was a member of Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament this past spring. Ethan isn’t a project so to speak, but if he has an NHL shot at all it’s going to be 4-5 years down the road.
John Marino – 154th overall. Right handed shooting defenseman that is committed to attend Yale University next season. Listed at 6’1″ and 171lbs. Definitely a long way off but could develop nicely in the NCAA.
Miroslav Svboda -208th overall. A goaler from the Czech Republic, was their starter at the World Juniors in Toronto. As Lowetide always says “Goalies are Voodoo”
Ziyat Paigin – 209th overall. HUGE RUSSIAN. Bruce McCurdy wrote a great bit about him here.
So What’s Next
With the addition of Gryba and Reinhart the Oilers have a glut of bottom pairing defensemen. The depth chart looks a little odd right now;
Klefbom – Fayne
Nikitan – Schultz
Ference – Gryba
Nurse – Reinhart
That still is not optimal. 6 of those guys should be bottom pairing or less, and there isn’t a clear standout to have a top pair in that list at all. Is improved already from last year? Sure, but Chia still has some work to do. The fantasy option is a trade for a big name like Brent Seabrook or Brent Burns, either one would come to Edmonton and add some legitimacy to this group immediately, but are fairly unlikely to happen with out some bigger names going back the other way, if at all.
What about free agency? This is the more likely scenario, while there are no clear #1 guys on this list there are a few servicable names who could come in and probably fill a number 1 role by default. Mike Green, Cody Franson and Zbynek Michalek are the right handed shots that would help but both will command big money. The left shot guys I like are Christian Ehrhoff, Francois Beuchemin and Johnny Oduya.
The other questions signing 1 or 2 of these guys is cap space. While the Oilers have room, if a big money contract comes in then something has to move out. Maybe that does make the fantasy trade route a little more likely.
Exciting times to come.
Thanks for reading.