Tracking the Edmonton Oilers Rebuild: Projecting and Comparing Wingers

Be sure to follow @soupfromthecan on Twitter for more posts and updates.

This is the second post in a series looking at the offensive totals of other rebuilding teams in their breakout years as compared to projected Oilers offensive totals in 2014-2015, as prophesied by the talented Jonathan Willis at Oilers Nation and the equally reputable Lowetide at his site. In the first post I looked at middlemen, and here we’ll be examining wingers.

I’ve also made a few changes to the previous post in this series as I tried my best to wrap my head around depth charts, so take a peak if you wish.

It’s important to note that these depth charts do take a little bit of guessing based on games played and time on ice. Trying to piece together who played where, and where everyone should officially be slotted in each teams depth, is a bit of a headache. I did my best to paint as accurate a picture as possible of each team in their breakout seasons.

Also worth noting is that neither Lowetide and Willis attempted to project any major injuries, the likes of which many of the rebuilding teams did see over the course of their breakout seasons. That sort of thing is way too difficult to predict, and so both writers left them out for the purposes of their exercises. They did, however, attempt to account for minor injuries and roster changes and that was reflected in each player’s GP, which has been listed in their posts.

All that said, the numbers that we’re arriving at and comparing in this post are approximations. They give us a bit of an idea of how successfully rebuilt teams performed at certain positions in their breakout seasons, and how the Oilers could potentially stack up in comparison.I’m choosing to leave it at that. I could have further projected everyone over a full 82 game season to try and do away with the GP problem, but ultimately that would have only led to more approximations.

Comparing Wingers on Successfully Rebuilt Teams

Hall Eberle

Player

GP

G

A

Pts

TOI

Penguins 2006-2007

Mark Recchi

82

24

44

68

19:44

Colby Armstrong

80

12

22

34

16:49

Ryan Malone

64

16

15

31

16:15

Gary Roberts

19

7

6

13

15:46

Nisse Ekman

34

6

9

15

13:48

Michel Oullet

73

19

29

48

13:19

Erik Christensen

61

18

15

33

11:37

Jarko Ruutuu

81

7

9

16

9:19

TOTALS:

109

149

258

Capitals 2007-2008

Alex Ovechkin

82

65

47

112

23:06

Sergei Federov

18

2

11

13

18:51

Viktor Kozlov

81

16

38

54

17:34

Alex Semin

63

23

16

39

16:54

Matt Pettinger

56

2

5

7

14:42

Tomas Fleischmann

75

10

20

30

12:37

Matt Bradley

77

7

11

18

9:59

Donald Brashear

80

5

3

8

7:51

TOTALS:

130

151

281

Blackhawks 2008-2009

Patrick Kane

80

25

45

70

18:39

Martin Havlat

81

29

48

77

17:24

Kris Versteeg

78

22

31

53

17:02

Troy Brouwer

69

10

16

26

15:04

Dustin Byfuglien

77

15

16

31

14:52

Andrew Ladd

82

15

34

49

14:23

Adam Burish

66

6

3

9

9:12

Ben Eager

75

11

4

15

8:31

TOTALS:

133

197

330

Avalanche 2013-2014

Ryan O’Reilly

80

28

36

64

19:49

Gabriel Landeskog

81

26

39

65

18:40

Alex Tanguay

16

4

7

11

17:16

PA Parenteau

55

14

19

33

16:57

Max Talbot

70

7

18

25

16:19

Jamie McGinn

79

19

19

38

15:46

Marc Andre Cliche

76

1

6

7

10:33

Cody McLeod

71

5

8

13

10:19

TOTALS:

104

152

256

AVERAGES:

119

162.25

281.25

 

G (Willis) G (LT) A (LT) Points (LT)
Jordan Eberle

31

30

38

68

Teddy Purcell

15

11

28

39

Nail Yakupov

18

21

21

42

Tyler Pitlick

3

3

7

10

Taylor Hall

28

33

50

83

Benoit Pouliot

13

14

18

32

David Perron

25

23

29

52

Matt Hendricks

6

3

6

9

Totals:

139

138

197

335

Goals Assists Points
Penguins 06-07

109

149

258

Capitals 07-08

130

151

281

Blackhawks 08-09

133

197

330

Avalanche 13-14

104

152

256

Averages:

119

162.25

281.25

In Conclusion

The Oilers have actual depth on the wing–an abundance of offensive talent. Some of Lowetide’s and Willis’ projections could easily be surpassed (I’m looking at you, Nail).

While, in the previous post, we saw that the Oilers are likely to lag behind other rebuilt teams at centre, the wing corps should create more than enough offence to pick up the slack on the scoresheet.

As Jonathan Willis has mentioned in his projection series, he believes that the Oilers are capable of scoring like a playoff-calibre team. I tend to agree.

The question were all asking is: will it be enough?

I’ll look at the defence in the next post.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Long before I ever blogged about the Oilers, I was writing songs and playing music for people in YEG and now YVR. This week, my label and I released the first track from my upcoming full-length album, set to come out in September. I’ve posted the audio player below.

Give it a listen. Let me know what you think. And keep your eyes and ears peeled for announcements and new releases in the coming weeks. You can also like my (music) Facebook page if you so desire.

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Tracking the Edmonton Oilers Rebuild: Projecting and Comparing Centres

Update: I’ve adjusted the chart below to feature the Capitals in the 2007-2008 season when they won their division. It’s the season I had initially intended to include, and doing so doesn’t change the story a whole lot.

I’ve been absent from the Oilogosphere (as a writer, never a reader) for about a month now, taking some time to work on a couple other projects in fiction and music. I plan to kick it back into high gear come fall, but for now, I have an idea I’d like to explore using the work done by two of the most talented Oilers bloggers out there.

I have a bit of a series going in which I’ve been examining the Oilers rebuild at its various points. You can see the latest post right here (taking a look at additions made by rebuilding teams in the off-seasons before they found success).

Now, I’m going to take a look at those same recently successful rebuilds, but specifically at how their depth charts looked during the year they reached the next level and made the post-season. Using Jonathan Willis’ projected goals from Oilers Nation and Lowetide’s projected points from his RE: 14-15 series, let’s see how our projected Oilers stack up.

I’m going to start with the biggest question mark currently punctuating the Oilers lineup.

Comparing Centres on Successfully Rebuilt Teams

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits

Image courtesy of Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Below you’ll find a chart listing each rebuilding team’s top four centres as determined by their TOI (with a little help from faceoff wins). At the bottom, you’ll find the Oilers projected depth chart at centre, along with their numbers as prophesied by LT and Willis.

Though, like many out there, I’m doubtful the Avalanche will be able to repeat their most recent season in 2014-2015, I’ve still included them in the below chart because of their significant jump in the standings.

Player

GP

G

A

Pts

TOI

Penguins 2006-2007

Sidney Crosby

79

36

84

120

20:45

Evgeni Malkin

78

33

52

85

19:09

Jordan Staal

81

29

13

42

14:56

Max Talbot

75

13

12

24

13:53

Totals

111

161

271

Blackhawks 2008-2009

Jonathan Toews

82

34

35

69

18:37

Patrick Sharp

61

26

18

44

17:57

Dave Bolland

81

19

28

47

16:27

Colin Fraser

81

6

11

17

10:53

Totals

85

92

177

Capitals 2007-2008

Michael Nylander

40

11

26

37

19:09

Nicklas Backstrom

82

14

55

69

18:59

Boyd Gordon

67

7

9

16

15:44

Brooks Laich

82

21

16

37

14:02

Totals

53

106

159

Avalanche 2013-2014

Matt Duchene

71

23

47

70

18:29

Paul Stastny

71

25

35

60

18:23

Nathan MacKinnon

82

24

39

63

17:20

John Mitchell

75

11

21

63

16:16

Totals

83

142

256

Averages

83

125.25

215.75

 

Player

G (Willis)

G (LT)

A (LT)

Pts (LT)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

21

24

44

68

Mark Arcobello

12

7

20

27

Leon Draisaitl

8

12

22

34

Boyd Gordon

6

5

15

20

Totals:

47

48

101

149

I’ve bolded and italicized rookies in the charts.

In Conclusion

I feared the worst going into this exercise. Rightfully so, it seems. The Edmonton Oilers centres in 2014-2015, as projected by Willis and LT, do not stack up well at all offensively against other rebuilds in their breakout seasons, especially in the Goals Department. The only team they come close to touching is the 2007-2008 Capitals, and they dealt with injuries at the position, most notably Michael Nylander.

Should we be surprised? Probably not, no. I think we all knew something had to be done at 2C, and unfortunately, MacTavish didn’t get to it this summer. That position could very well make it or break it for the Oilers in the upcoming season.

All that said, the Oil have considerable depth on the wing after the off-season acquisitions of Pouliot and Purcell. In my next post, we’ll take a look at how Edmonton’s wingers stack up against the above teams.

On Another Note

Long before I ever blogged about the Oilers, I was writing songs and playing music for people in YEG and now YVR. This week, my label and I released the first track from my upcoming full-length album, set to come out in September. I’m going to shamelessly promote here.

Give it a listen. Let me know what you think. And keep your eyes and ears peeled for announcements and new releases in the coming weeks. You can also like my (music) Facebook page if you so desire.

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What We Know So Far

The dust has settled after the frenzy that was July 1st. MacTavish came away with a few very nice pick ups for his team on day one, and the days that followed saw a few ideal targets at 2C in Mikhail Grabovski and David Legwand ink deals with other teams.

The night before all the action happened, I put together a bit of a shopping list. Now let’s see how the Oilers did, and what is left to be done.

Oilers Depth Chart – Post-July 1

9124651

Image courtesy of Jason Franson, the Canadian Press.

Forwards:

Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle

Pouliot – Arcobello – Purcell

Perron – Draisaitl – Yakupov

Hendricks – Gordon -Lander

Gazdic

Defencemen:

Marincin – Petry

Nikitin – Schultz

Ference – Fayne

Aulie

Goal:

Scrivens

Fasth

Your take on the depth chart may vary, but I think we can see some marked improvements here over last year’s squad.

The depth on both wings is a real strength for me. I’d like to see the two big wingers in Purcell and Pouliot play together on a second line facing tough opposition. That would allow more sheltered minutes for the Draisaitl line–something that Yakupov would benefit from as well. Perron and Draisaitl would make a tasty puck possession duo with Dr Drai setting up Yak City and Perron against opposition depth forwards.

One of the most glaring weaknesses in the above depth chart is the absence of an established second line centre to play behind the Nuge. The Oilers lost out on some of the free agent options at that position, and according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, any addition at 2C is likely to come via trade.

For the first time in years, it appears that the Oilers have an NHL-worthy defence, so naturally, rumours are also swirling that the Oilers intend to tinker with the defence as it currently exists, with Jeff Petry’s name being mentioned by some pretty reliable sources.

All of that information taken together makes it seem like the Oilers are trying to deal Petry for a second line centre. It’s a bad idea, creating a hole to fill another. But as Jonathan Willis writes on Oilers Nation today, Petry may just be the sharpest arrow in Edmonton’s quiver, so-to-speak.

What is there to do?

Derek Roy is still out there but I don’t get a strong feeling he’ll end up with the Copper and Blue based on what we’ve heard from Rishaug.

The internal option is to play Mark Arcobello at 2C while leaving the sheltered minutes to Draisaitl. Arco proved last season that he can play a decent game in the bigs against milder opposition with slightly unfavourable zone starts–and he managed 0.44 points per game while doing so.

The following chart, one of my favourite tools, is courtesy of Rob Vollman at Hockey Abstract. I encourage you to go and play around with the player usage charts yourself.

Note that I’ve used Corsi Rel.

Clean_Image_for_Blogs (5)

It feels a lot like the Oilers are exploring two options at 2C: either they put their trust in the largely unproven and untested Arcobello, or they trade their best defenceman to fill the hole, creating another one. Personally, I find both options to be cringe-worthy, but the former (playing Arco) less-so.

One thing I will say is that, if the Oilers do keep Arcobello up the depth chart and in the middle, I would love to see MacT bolster that fourth line with a guy like Daniel Winnik or David Moss (where I currently have Lander slotted in). Lord knows they’re going to get some brutal usage, and they could use all the help they can get.

We’ve entered into the slow months of uncertainty before training camp picks up in the fall. Will we see more moves from MacT and company? Will Draisaitl earn his keep? Does he even have to, as things currently stand? How do you see the depth chart shaping up?

Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @soupfromthecan.

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‘Twas The Night Before Christmas…(Hopefully)

Be sure to follow me on twitter @soupfromthecan.

It’s the night before the day known as the free agent frenzy and the Edmonton Oilers’ 2014-2015 season hinges on them being in the thick of things tomorrow. As I wrote yesterday, rebuilding teams have not found success, historically, by sitting around and waiting for it to come to them.

MacTavish has already gotten in on the action, dealing Sam Gagner to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Teddy Purcell, and I fully expect we’ll be receiving more news tomorrow.

I thought I would present my list of favourable targets one last time before things get going in the morning.

Edmonton Oilers Summer Target Round Up

First, I’m going to repost my depth chart with the additions I see as necessary for success in the upcoming season.

Forwards:

Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle

Target A – Target B – Yakupov

Perron – Draisaitl – Purcell

Hendricks – Gordon – Target C

Gazdic – Lander – Arcobello

Defensemen:

Target D – Schultz

Marincin – Petry

Nikitin – Ference

Goal:

Scrivens

Fasth

Free Agent Frenzy

Target A

Even with the addition of Purcell, I think the Oilers are in need of one more winger capable of both providing offence and playing sound defence.

For me, the ideal candidates are:

1) Nikolai Kulemin

2) Benoit Pouliot

3) Matt Moulson

I would also add David Moss and Daniel Winnik to this list, though Moss is listed as a RW and neither of them provide the offence necessary for a potential role in the top six. I also flat-out don’t see Moulson coming here.

Target B

If Leon Draisaitl is to start the season with the team–and with Sam Gagner shipping out, he more than likely will be–then there is a definite need for an established second line centre to come in and allow the young rookie to play more sheltered minutes.

The candidates:

1) Mikhail Grabovski

2) Paul Stastny (no chance)

3) David Legwand

According to Eliotte Friedman, the Oilers are also in pursuit of Olli Jokinen. Given his age and recent performance, he isn’t a great fit in my opinion.

Target C

If both Target A and Target B get done, I don’t suspect we’ll see this spot filled through free agency. I think it’s much more likely that Arcobello, Lander and Pitlick are given the opportunity to come in and fight it out for this spot on a tough minutes, severe zone start defensive unit.

Even so, the ideal candidates:

1) Daniel Winnik

2) David Moss

Target D

This is a spot that absolutely must be filled in my opinion, though out of all the aforementioned areas of need, it’s the one I fear won’t be addressed.

Defenders with the ability to take on twenty-ish minutes a night against the opposition’s best are in high demand, and there are just not enough of them to go around this summer.

The candidates:

1) Christian Ehrhoff

2) Mark Fayne

3) Dion Phaneuf

Some interesting stuff on the potential of a Phaneuf deal from Nick Kypreos, passed along by Twitter user Hope_Smoke:

Now, if I’m reading this right, it means Phaneuf had a NMC on his old deal that might have been holding up a trade pre-July 1st, but when his new deal kicks in, Toronto will have more freedom to deal him.

Not sure if Dion could have nixed a trade to the Oilers, or if it was even discussed between the two teams. He’s still a guy I’d like to see on this team.

There was also some chatter today that Petry might be on the block.

I sincerely hope not, but if he does go, it better be for a defenseman with an equal-or-greater ability to play the position.

Now let’s all take a knee at the sides of our beds and pray to the hockey gods that, by this time tomorrow, the Oilers roster looks a little more like this:

Forwards:

Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle

Kulemin – Grabovski – Yakupov

Perron – Draisaitl – Purcell

Hendricks – Gordon – Winnik

Gazdic – Lander – Arcobello

Defensemen:

Fayne – Schultz

Marincin – Petry

Nikitin – Ference

Goal:

Scrivens

Fasth

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Tracking the Edmonton Oilers Rebuild: Part 2

Be sure to follow me on twitter @soupfromthecan.

In his interview last week with Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, Craig MacTavish had an interesting answer when asked if he realized how far away his team is from being in the same conversation as an organization like the LA Kings:

“Sure, because L.A.’s in our division. This thing will turn quickly, but we need something to trigger it. Hopefully, we can add some depth in a much, more productive way than we did this year when we play those teams.”

There’s a widely held belief in Oil Country–and an accurate one, I’d say–that the team won’t make the transition from bottom to top until the young core of offensive players has been supported by a cast of legitimate role players who can compete in this league.

The number we keep hearing in regards to how many significant additions the Oilers need to make this off-season is around five, and that’s a number I went with in my off-season wishlist published before the draft (though with the addition of Nikitin and still no sign of a top-pairing defenceman, I’d now push that number up to six). I’ll repost that at the end of this article.

The ideal scenario this summer is one in which the Oilers find the right mix of additions to come in and act as the trigger, as MacT described, that will make this whole thing turnaround.

But how fast, historically, have these rebuilds taken their teams from the basement to the playoffs or better?

Last summer I wrote a post that looked at three separate rebuild situations in the recent past–Pittsburgh, Washington, and Chicago. I tracked their high draft picks, what we might call their young core of high calibre players, and how their points per game tracked season over season in comparison to how the team performed as a whole. The graph below is from that post (click to enlarge):

rebuilding teams

Now I would like to revisit that conversation from a different angle, and look at the moves these teams made over the off-season that could have triggered their progress in the standings. Given Colorado’s recent trip up the standings, I think we can include them in the conversation as well.

Successful Rebuilds and Off-Season Acquisitions

Note that the purpose of this post is not to arrive at any definitive answer for what the Oilers should or shouldn’t do this summer (I think history will tell us that there is no set, prescribed course of action) but rather give us an idea of how other teams in similar situations have found success.

1) Pittsburgh Penguins 2006-07

Added GP Goals Assists Pts
Jordan Staal 81 29 13 42
Mark Eaton 35 0 3 3
Matt Karkner
Ronald Petrovicky 31 3 3 6
Mark Recchi 82 24 44 68
Andrew Penner
Dominic Moore 59 6 9 15
Libor Pivco
Nils Eckman 34 6 9 15
Patrick Ehelechner
Karl Stewart 3 0 0 0
Chris Thorburn 39 3 2 5
Wade Brookbank
Gary Roberts 19 7 6 13
Georges Laraque 17 0 2 2
Joel Kwiatkowski 1 0 0 0
Nolan Schaefer

The Penguins added a slew of players to their organization during the 2006 off-season, and a few more notable ones in Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque at the trade deadline. I intend to use player deployment and possession numbers for the rest of the examples in this post, but because that information isn’t available as far as I can tell for the 2006-2007 season, I’ve included simple boxcars for this group of Penguins.

Pittsburgh added two key pieces to the puzzle in Mark Recchi and Jordan Staal (from the draft), and another player who contributed in Dominic Moore who was subsequently traded at the deadline to Minnesota for a third rounder.

2) Chicago Blackhawks, 2007-2008, 2008-2009

The Blackhawks turnaround was more gradual than Pittsburgh’s so we’ll have a look at the two seasons over which they made their significant improvement in the standings.

In 2007-2008 they improved by 17 points in the standings, but still missed the playoffs.

Added
Yanic Perrault
Robert Lang
Wade Flaherty
Brent Sopel
Sergei Samsonov
Andrei Zyuzin
Steve Marr
Kevyn Adams
Patrick Kane
Ben Eager
Craig Adams
Andrew Ladd

Clean_Image_for_Blogs

The addition of Kane at the draft, as well as Perrault (53 games played) and Lang (76 games played), were all strong ones. Andrew Ladd made a nice contribution when he came over at the deadline.

Added (08-09)
Cristobal Huet
Brian Campbell
Matt Walker
Aaron Johnson
Doug Janik
Tim Brent
Pascal Pelletier
Joakim Lindstrom
Jim Sharrow
Adam Pineault
Samuel Pahlsson
Petri Kontiola

 

*Off-season additions end on Pelletier.

Clean_Image_for_Blogs (1)

 

The Blackhawks made the jump to a 104 point season and the playoffs on the cusp of adding several players at all levels, with significant moves coming in the forms of Brian Campbell, Andrew Ladd (at the deadline the previous season), and Cristobal Huet who had a record of 20-15-4 in 2008-2009.

Note that in both graphs, I’ve sorted out the players who played less than 20 games during the regular season.

3) Washington Capitals 2007-08, 2008-09

Added
Viktor Kozlov
Tom Poti
Michael Nylander
Joe Motzko
Cristobal Huet
Sergei Fedorov
Matt Cooke
Alexandre Giroux

Clean_Image_for_Blogs (2)

Save for Matt Cooke who was used ever-so-sparingly in the games that he played, all of these additions who played at least 20 games in 2007-08 have nicely coloured bubbles. Huet came over near the end of the season and registered a phenomenal 11-2-0 record with a 0.936 save percentage

Added (2008-09)
Jose Theodore
Graham Mink
Keith Aucoin
Staffan Kronwall

 

Clean_Image_for_Blogs (3)

Of all those additions, Kozlov and Fedorov continued to play well in their roles while Poti proved he could take on more severe zone starts and tougher competition as the Capitals rose to the very top of the NHL standings with 108 points.

4) Colorado Avalanche 2013-2014

Added
Nathan MacKinnon
Andre Benoit
Nathan Guenin
Nick Holden
J.T. Wyman
Guillaume Desbiens
Maxime Talbot
Reto Berra
Marc-Andre Cliche

Clean_Image_for_Blogs (4)

 

Colorado was a poor possession team last season, and that’s reflected in the bubble colouring of all the above additions. That said, they added players who slotted in throughout their line up, the most significant of them being Nathan MacKinnon.

In Conclusion

While the number of additions fluctuates from example to example, it’s obvious that none of these teams were content to sit on their butts and simply wait for success to come to them. Holes in their respective lineups were filled through the draft, free agency, and trades, with players who were able to perform at the level necessary to help the team perform at a higher level.

Regardless of how you think all of the above information relates to the Oilers’ situation, I think it’s clear to everyone that the team has to be aggressive this summer in finding the pieces to plug the holes in their lineup if they intend to make improvements in 2014-2015.

As MacTavish said in his interview, it’s true that these turn arounds appear to happen in sudden leaps and bounds, but not without the help of key acquisitions to support these young cores as they develop and learn the game.

The Updated Wishlist (Updated with Teddy Purcell Acquisition)

Forwards:

Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle

Kulemin – Grabovski – Yakupov

Perron – Draisaitl – Purcell

Hendricks – Gordon – Arcobello

Gazdic – Lander

Defensemen

Top Pairing D – Schultz

Marincin – Petry

Nikitin – Ference

Goal

Scrivens

Fasth

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NHL Mock Draft 2014: Picks 1-30

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Be sure to follow me on Twitter @soupfromthecan for thoughts and insights during the draft and all throughout the off-season.

Below you’ll find my best attempt at predicting how the picks will go in round one of the NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia tomorrow.

Please note that this is not a ranking of the top 30 prospects, nor is it necessarily how I would pick them if I was the GM for every one of these teams. It’s just a stab in the dark, a look into the proverbial crystal ball. All for fun, you see.

The draft never does go quite as planned outside of the top few picks, and trying to predict the thing is probably an exercise in futility. But I can tell you I had fun anyway.

Oil! Mock Draft 2014: First Round

1. Florida – Aaron Ekblad

2. Buffalo – Sam Reinhart

3. Edmonton – Leon Draisaitl

4. Calgary – Sam Bennett

5. NY Islanders – Michael Dal Colle

6. Vancouver – William Nylander

7. Carolina – Jake Virtanen

8. Toronto – Nick Ritchie

9. Winnipeg – Nikolaj Ehlers

10. Anaheim (from Ottawa) – Haydn Fleury

11. Nashville – Kasperi Kapanen

12. Arizona – Brendan Perlini

13. Washington – Alex Tuch

14. Dallas – Kevin Fiala

15. Detroit – Robert Fabbri

16. Columbus – Sonny Milano

17. Philadelphia – Dylan Larkin

18. Minnesota – Jared McCann

19. Tampa Bay – Julius Honka

20. San Jose – Jakub Vrana

21. St. Louis (conditional to Buffalo) – Josh Ho-Sang

22. Pittsburgh – Nikita Scherbak

23. Colorado – Brendan Lemieux

24. Anaheim – David Pastrnak

25. Boston – Adrian Kempe

26. Montreal – Ivan Barbashev

27. Chicago – Nikolay Goldobin

28. Tampa Bay (from NY Rangers) – Nick Schmaltz

29. Los Angeles – Roland McKeown

30. New Jersey – Ryan MacInnis

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Panthers to Surprise with First Selection?

Be sure to follow me on twitter @soupfromthecan for updates and insights throughout the summer.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal just posted a lengthy Q & A with Oilers GM Craig MacTavish and it’s filled with loads of golden nugget quotes. I have a piece planned for something he touched on earlier in the exchange, but for the here and now let’s look at MacT’s response to whether or not he believes the Panthers will move the first overall pick:

“I’m not so sure. They definitely will if they get what they want. The rumour is the guy they want isn’t in the top four.”

Not in the consensus top four, you say? To clarify, we’re talking about Ekblad, Draisaitl, Bennett, and Reinhart, in no particular order.

What happens if the Panthers make a wild pick?

To me, the above quote is another way of saying the Panthers aren’t interested in Ekblad, as he’s the only option of those four who doesn’t play centre.

With the hulking Nick Bjugstad coming off a solid first full season, Barkov showing well prior to being injured, and Jonathan Huberdeau as a possible option down the middle as well, it makes sense that they aren’t chomping at the bit to add another top end offensive prospect at centre.

With a log jam like the one that would ensue, someone would have to go eventually, and one gets the feeling that they’re more than happy with their current lot.

Who might the Panthers be coveting? I’d guess it’s probably someone who’s at least been in conversation recently in regards to the cream of the crop in this year’s draft.

It could be right winger William Nylander, who I recently discussed as possibly being the guy to shake things up at the upcoming draft. Corey Pronman had him at number three in his most recent rankings for ESPN.

It may also be big scoring winger Michael Dal Colle, who ISS has at number three in their final rankings.

So if the word is out that the Panthers don’t plan on taking Ekblad, maybe teams are content to wait and see how the first pick or two play out.

If GMs have a hunch that the Panthers intend to take a player outside of those top four, then I doubt the offers for their pick have been all that enticing, because if that’s the case, teams would be better off making a play for the second or third pick, which are worth less at this point.

And until GMs know that the player they want (Ekblad in this case) is there at either of those selections (two or three), they won’t overpay for them either.

What I’m saying is: if the rumour MacTavish spoke of is actually making the rounds, then I bet the Panthers are getting low-balled for the first overall, and I doubt we’ll see any trades involving the top picks until the Panthers make their selection, or if they trade the pick at surprisingly low value.

I’ll restate that I strongly believe the Oilers should take a centre at third overall, as the track record for defensemen drafted in the top four has been too shaky over the years to justify taking the D-man when all four players are said to be so close potential-wise.

In other words, I agree with Tyler Dellow completely:

And finally…

In Conclusion

If the Panthers are to move down from number one, it isn’t going to be until the day of the draft. But if rumours are swirling amongst GMs that the guy they’re going to take is outside of the consensus top four, then the rest of the league might just freeze them out and see whose name they call.

If it ends up being one of Nylander or Dal Colle–and I’m still highly doubtful it will be–then Buffalo will undoubtedly get a lot of calls for the number two selection. And if the Sabres stay put and draft one of the centres like everyone has been speculating, then I imagine Edmonton’s phone will be ringing  with a few very enticing offers once they’re on the clock on Friday.

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