Ideal Draft Picks to Fill Edmonton Oilers' 5 Biggest Needs

James Onusko@@jonuskoContributor IIIMay 17, 2013

Ideal Draft Picks to Fill Edmonton Oilers' 5 Biggest Needs

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    The future appears bright for the Edmonton Oilers, but despite having the three most recent first overall NHL draft picks, the club still has some pressing roster needs.

    Their minor league system, after almost a decade of neglect, is finally operating more smoothly and should produce at least two if not three players for next season.

    The organization has several skilled, yet small forwards, and will likely have to move at least one if not two of these players to fill their most glaring needs.

    The Oilers currently hold two picks in the first two rounds, including the seventh overall pick. If they retain both of those picks, here are the players—provided they are available—that would fill the Oilers’ five biggest needs. 

5. Goaltending Depth

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    The Oilers remain thin in terms of goaltending depth despite the emergence of Devan Dubnyk.

    Olivier Roy is their top goaltending prospect, but is likely at least two if not more years away from NHL action.

    While the Oilers cannot use their first overall pick to fill this need, I would suggest using their second-round pick to select a goaltending prospect. Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings is certainly one option, while Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans might be the better pick.

    Comrie is very athletic and has a lot of potential. He may be undersized at "just" 6’0”, but he makes up for this with his exceptional athleticism.

    Comrie posted a .915 save percentage in the WHL this year and will be a candidate for Canada’s next World Junior team. 

4. Defensive Depth

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    The Oilers also need to add defensemen. The Boston Bruins have demonstrated recently how important it is to have at least eight or nine defensemen that can play at the NHL level.

    The Oilers have four or five that can do that consistently with the departure of Ryan Whitney.

    With their second-round pick, the Oilers might be able to select the Swift Current Broncos’ Dillon Heatherington. His play has steadily improved over time and he is an above-average skater.

    He has played a lot of minutes at the WHL level and has become a top-pairing defenseman. He can also join the rush and put up points.

    At 6’4” and 200 pounds, Heatherington would be a good addition to the Oilers stable of defensive prospects.

3. Size in the Top 9

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    Justin Bailey of the Kitchener Rangers would be a good second-round pick for the Oilers.

    The native of New York state played in the most recent Under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament for the United States.

    Bailey is 6’3” and listed at 183 pounds. The Oilers continue to need more size on their top three lines and this will not change in the years to come.

    While Bailey likely won’t be ready for NHL play for a few years, there is a lot of potential in his game with his mobility and ability to take the body consistently.

2. Center with Size

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    With their first pick, the Oilers will most likely take a center with size or a top-pairing defenseman.

    Because the team has greater needs on the point, they may lean that way with the pick, depending on what the teams picking before them choose to do.

    While Nathan MacKinnon will not be available at the seven spot, Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67’s may be. Monahan could become a very good center at the NHL level.

    It is unlikely that Monahan will develop into a first-line center, but the Oilers already have one in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. While Sam Gagner is a very capable second-line center, it is a role that Monahan might be able to move into in the coming seasons with Gagner shifting to the wing.

    Monahan posted 78 points on a weak Ottawa team this year, so he is capable of producing points without a skilled supporting cast. 

    Given the skill of the Oilers’ top wingers, Monahan could be a very nice fit down the road.

1. Top-4 Defenseman

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    The Oilers greatest need remains a top-pairing defenseman. Seth Jones will likely be able to do this in the next year or two for any team that selects him. However, the Oilers will not have that option with the seventh pick.

    If available, Hamilton native Darnell Nurse could be a great pick. At 6’5”, Nurse has a much-coveted mean streak which the Oilers need desperately.

    Quite simply, Nurse has the potential to play huge minutes and make life miserable for opposing forwards. He can also contribute offensively and is a force at both ends of the rink.

    Nurse also happens to be the nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, who can be a great outlet for the young defenseman as he prepares to be a pro athlete.

    He may not crack the roster next season, but the future for Nurse seems very bright. He would be an excellent addition to the Edmonton Oilers.