Dissecting the Draft: What to Expect from the Oilers Come June 24

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Dissecting the Draft:  What to Expect from the Oilers Come June 24
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The Edmonton Oilers obtained the first overall pick at this year's draft for a reason:  last year they stunk.  And so the debate has begun as to Tyler or Taylor.  The potential game-breaking forward or the prototypical center to build around. 

My thoughts on what the team should do with the pick can be read here:

But this article is not about my thoughts on the pick, it's on what I expect the team will do. 

Steve Tambellini has only had one draft as the general manager of the team, but from that draft, there are already some trends to notice. 

Typically when it comes to the draft, teams follow two basic strategies: draft based for biggest need, or draft for best player available. 

Last year, Tambellini displayed a penchant for drafting the best player available rather than focusing on team needs.  This preference was evident when he selected Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi, a winger who had fallen further than most had predicted. 

Paajarvi was the best player available at No. 10 on most draft boards, and the Oilers chose him even though they lacked (and continue to lack) a prototypical power forward in their system. 

If the Oilers were trying to fill their greatest need, they would have selected Zach Kassian out of the OHL's Peterborough Petes.  Kassian was eventually chosen at No. 13 by the Buffalo Sabres

This trend continued throughout Tambellini's first draft as the head man. Tambellini also reaches for players that have fallen, as seen when he selected Toni Rajala and Olivier Roy. Both players were at one point considered locks for the second round.

Another thing to point out is that in the later rounds, Tambellini will reach to fill needs. He chose Troy Hesketh, Kyle Bigos, and Cameron Abney between the third and fourth rounds.  The Oilers lacked any true enforcer in their system before the draft, and picked up two in Abney and Bigos, albeit at a very steep price. 

So in a nutshell, Tambellini's draft strategy is this: grab the best available player in the early rounds, and fill needs in the mid-to-later rounds, reaching for players if necessary. 

This is the main reason why I believe that the Oilers will select Taylor Hall with the first pick.  Most scouts agree that Hall will offer more production offensively, whereas Seguin is considered more of a two-way center.  

Also, if the Oilers select Seguin, it will be a sign that they feel Sam Gagner is, at best, a No. 2 center.  At just 20 years old and with over 200 NHL games already, there is time for Gagner to develop into a solid No. 1 center. Playing with Hall, who is considered NHL-ready, could elevate Gagner's game siginficantly. 

With the rest of their picks, I expect the Oilers to grab the best player available in the second round, and then draft for need after that.  

One player that may be available and the Oilers would take a long look at is John McFarland, who just two years ago, was considered a lock for the No. 1 overall selection. 

McFarland is an extremely talented player who could be a major steal in the draft.  Although there are questions about his attitude and dedication, I feel the Oilers will take him if he is available. 

There are many who have questioned Taylor Hall's attitude as well.   

With the other second round pick (acquired in the Denis Grebeshkov trade, and really the rest of the draft), I expect the team to place a premium on defense, focusing on North American players who can contribute down the road. 

Justin Falk is projected to be an offensive defenseman and will have time to develop at Minnesota-Duluth.  

The Oilers generally shy away from players from the US U18 program and the USHL, but there may not be any better options late in the second round. 

 

Who Salim Valji expects the Oilers to take 1st Overall:  Taylor Hall

 

Stay tuned for more in this series of articles examining each team's draft.          

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