The Edmonton Oilers are in a semi-state of turmoil heading into the 2013 NHL Entry draft. Ralph Krueger is out as coach, a replacement is expected to be named in short order and new GM Craig MacTavish has more than a little bit to prove as the general manger of his former team.
This draft could mean much more to than the franchise than any of the last three first overall picks, because now the team actually has to utilize its scouting department, rather than resting on the fact that it was able to draft the best overall player available.
There are many questions begging to be answered in Edmonton, but the pieces will start falling into place at the draft in June.
Here are facts that you need to know about the Edmonton Oilers' draft targets.
Something plaguing the Edmonton Oilers over the last few seasons is a lack of physical intensity and overall toughness, as well as a subpar defensive core.
Nikita Zadorov, formally of the London Knights, could instantly change both of these shortcomings.
Zadorov is a big, physical presence whose defensive style of play would nicely offset the offensive skills of current Oilers like Jeff Petry or Justin Schultz.
At 6’5” and 230 pounds, Zadorov is an immediate presence on the ice. And though his offensive skills may leave a bit to be desired, his willingness to play the body as well as drop the gloves when necessary more than make up for a lack of point production.
The Oilers do not need another puck-moving defenseman, and though Zadorov has the potential to improve in that department (as demonstrated this season in London, where his point total increased), Edmonton would benefit most from adding a big, strong defenseman who can mix it up and play some tough minutes.
Darnell Nurse would be an excellent addition to what could be a talented crop of Oilers defensemen in the next couple of seasons.
Aside from Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse could very well be the best defenseman available in this year’s draft class and could very well make an immediate impact on the Oilers' roster, should they choose to select him with the seventh overall pick.
Nurse is a strong, two-way defensive player who established himself as a reliable leader for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this past season.
Nurse is big, but with such a lanky frame, there is much room for the Hamilton native to develop into a big, strong presence on the back end.
It can be argued that the Edmonton Oilers do not need to add another small forward to a lineup stocked full of smaller, talented forwards. But Elias Lindholm could find his way to Edmonton come draft day.
Lindholm possesses keen hockey intelligence and has been heralded as a player who is strong on both ends of the ice, and as a playmaking center he is the type of player known to make his teammates better.
If the Oilers are looking to add another center to their ranks, Lindholm may not be the ideal choice, as the young Swedish standout rarely took faceoffs for his club team in the Swedish Elite League. This means that if Lindholm was selected by the Oilers, he could find himself switching to the wing at the NHL level.
Lindholm has proven that he can play at an elite level after registering 30 points in 48 games with Brynas of the Swedish Elite League, and if available will draw serious consideration from the Oilers with their seventh overall pick.
If the Oilers feel that they can trade down in the draft to acquire a later first-round selection, as well as an established NHL player in the process, Curtis Lazar should be a player that receives serious consideration.
The Edmonton Oil Kings standout is the type of player who could step into a third-line role almost immediately and develop into a solid NHL power forward given the right coaching and guidance.
At 6’0” and 198 pounds, Lazar isn’t overly big, but plays a physical brand of game, and if the Memorial Cup tournament was any indication, he has talent and leadership qualities in spades.
Edmonton may very well trade down from the seventh overall position and is very well aware of what Lazar can bring to the table, having three years to observe his play for the Oil Kings.
The Oilers would be adding a serious spark plug should they decide to draft Max Domi.
Max Domi is another player the Edmonton Oilers could look at drafting should they trade down from the seventh overall pick, and could very well be one of the most interesting prospects in the draft this season.
Like his father, former NHL tough-guy Tie Domi, Max plays the game with a certain brand of intensity and grit that is often hard to find these days. But unlike his father, Max has a pretty well-rounded set of offensive skills that should easily translate at the NHL level.
Domi is a Brad Marchand-type of player—a guy who can get under the skin of the opposition while playing a physical brand of hockey and contributing on the offensive end.
His skill set may be a bit raw and could take a bit of seasoning in the AHL to round out, but he could very well be a late steal for any team drafting him in the first round.
Domi led a talented London Knights squad in points this past season with 87 points in 64 games, and while his penalty minutes are a mere shadow of the types of numbers his dad used to draw, the younger Domi is more than capable of taking care of himself on the ice.