The Edmonton Oilers won the NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday night. That earns them the privilege of taking Connor McDavid with the top pick in this June’s entry draft. It’s a franchise changing stroke of luck, in theory. But the Oilers have been getting these types of breaks for a while now without getting results that should be expected.
This is a list of Edmonton’s first round pick over the past five seasons.
|Draft Year||Player||Position||Pick||NHL Games||NHL Points|
That’s a talented crop of players, but it hasn’t really made the franchise any better. The Oilers keep missing the playoffs and keep drafting in the top ten.
It’s possible Edmonton missed on some of these picks. The NHL usually has a clear number one prospect in every draft class. Edmonton nailed it with RNH in 2011 and with Yakupov in 2012 (it’s not Nail’s fault the Oilers have used him terribly, but things are looking better). The last time the NHL had a duo at the top of the draft list was 2010.
The twosome of Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin was heavily hyped all year and Edmonton took Hall at number one. It’s still too early to say who is the better player, but Seguin has averaged better than a point per game over the past two seasons while Hall struggled through an injury plagued 2015.
Things got more interesting in the last two drafts. The Oilers selected Darnell Nurse at No. 7 overall in 2013 to fill a need along the blue line, then grabbed Leon Draisaitl at third overall last year. When Edmonton selected Nurse in 2013, Rasmus Ristolainen, Samuel Morin and Nikita Zadorov were blueliners still on the board, as were Bo Horvat, Max Domi and Curtis Lazar. The Oilers chose Draisaitl one pick before Calgary grabbed Samuel Bennett.
Why recap the Oilers recent draft history? Because this draft has two building blocks in McDavid and Jack Eichel. The Oilers are guaranteed one of them. But why couldn’t Edmonton get both?
The Oilers have a stock of young talent as already outlined. A stock that has quite a bit of worth. Why not give the Buffalo Sabres a godfather offer for the second overall pick? A package centered around Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick and a prospect or two would be awfully tough to say no to if you are Buffalo.
Or substitute the prospects with Taylor Hall and take back some salary Buffalo no longer wants (Cody Hodgson or Brian Gionta for example). It would tear down the Oilers current core, but it’s not like Edmonton has had any success with this group.
Imagine the Oilers with a one-two punch of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel down the middle for the next decade. Draisaitl would be the third-line center. They would still have Yakupov and Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot on the wings and either Eberle/Hall or someone the Sabres sent back to make the money work.
With the first and second picks in the fold, the Oilers would have three years of their top two centers on entry level contracts, allowing them to shop for short term value on the free agent market. What marginal 20-goal scorer wouldn’t want a chance to lineup with McDavid or Eichel as their pivot?
There would need to be a lot of groundwork and Edmonton would need to give up an enormous amount of value to do it, but they should absolutely be calling Tim Murray every hour on the hour from now until the draft on June 26th. Tear it all down and start fresh. It’s not like the foundation Edmonton would be destroying has achieved anything of significance anyway. Reinvent the wheel and possibly reignite the City of Champions. Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier did it once, and McEichel could certainly do it again.