Separating Future and Present Needs
“They gotta take a defenceman. When are they finally going to address their defence? It is ridiculous they still haven’t done anything about their defence.” How often have you heard this stuff Oiler fans? Since 2012? I remember Pierre McGuire saying in both 2010 and 2011 that the Oilers need to go defence. In 2010 it was Cam Fowler. 2011 it was Adam Larsson. Hell, McGuire completely messed up the first mock draft TSN ever did with him and Craig Button. Mock drafts are supposed to be about who you think the team will select, not about who you would take, and McGuire with the first pick that year had the Oilers taking Larsson just because he was certain that’s what the Oilers needed to do. I REALLY believe the Devils would do Larsson for RNH now, and would have ever since the draft transpired.
Anyway, no matter what the Oilers do, people believe they never address the defence. They used three 1st round picks in five seasons on defencemen (Klefbom, Nurse, Reinhart via trading the 16th and 33rd picks in 2015). They also signed the HIGHLY touted Justin Schultz in the summer of 2012. Add to this, just this past draft they used five of seven picks on defencemen, not including the two they dealt for Griffin Reinhart. With those five picks, all of them saw the kids selected out perform expectations in 2016, with four of them dramatically elevating their status.
Yet here we are. James Duthie the night of the draft lottery was on air asking “will the Oilers finally address their defence with the 4th pick?”. If you read a lot of mock drafts, they have the Oilers taking one of the top three defencemen in this draft at 4.
They are correct in that the Oilers need defencemen. You all are WELL aware of this obviously. In fact, the Oilers don’t need one D-man, they need two. But they need two top 4 defencemen. In other words, they need guys who can play NOW, not 3-4 years from now.
Now I know Oiler fans realize this, but it blows my mind how many fans and media just can’t grasp this concept. The NHL draft isn’t the NFL draft. You aren’t taking kids who’ll step right in. I’ve said before, the only kid I feel should be jumping into the NHL this season is Auston Matthews. Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi can both spend another season in Finland, or start in the AHL. Matt Tkachuk in my mind can afford another year in London and prove he doesn’t need Christian Dvorak or Mitch Marner. Pierre-Luc Dubois should spend next season back in Cape Breton and get a full season of playing centre under his belt. None of the big 3 defencemen in this draft need to jump in either. Yet for some reason, fans and media (who are supposed to understand these things) believe the fix to the Oilers defence is by selecting a defenceman at 4. It pains me how moronic this is.
But for anyone who is paying attention, the Oilers are real solid on D in the organization 25 and under. Especially with left handed shot D-men. Klefbom, Davidson, Nurse, Reinhart, Oesterle, Dillon Simpson, Caleb Jones, Ziyat Pagin, William Lagesson, and though it looks as though he’ll be moved this summer I guess you can include David Musil. Five of those guys are already in the show or knocking literally right on the door. Then you have four more prospects, Simpson needs to work on his foot speed, and the other three are still 2-3 years away, but it’s a deep pool. So to say the Oilers need to take a D-man with the 4th pick is actually pretty ridiculous. If one of the big three D-men in this draft were right handed shooting AND separated themselves from the other two, then it would make a lot more sense.
This isn’t to say that the Oilers can’t take a defenceman in the 1st round. Of course they can! You can never have too many D-men! But you aren’t taking that guy at 4. At 4 there is another need.
In case you missed my mock draft yesterday, I’m calling my shot in my belief that the Blue Jackets will pass on Puljujarvi at 3 to take Dubois. Check it out if you want my long explanation as to why, don’t immediately go ranting about it in my comments section. It could easily be wrong, but I believe it’s what they’ll do. So that would leave the Oilers with Puljujarvi at 4, who I’m certain they would then take.
Should it play out the way most believe it will, the Oilers have a choice between Dubois and Tkachuk. I honestly could flip a coin over the two as to whom the Oilers should take, but I still lean Dubois. Bigger, plays centre, better skater, nearly as much production as Tkachuk playing on nowhere near as good of a line. But I completely get the desire to select Tkachuk and wouldn’t have any issue with Peter Chiarelli doing so. I believe the move to make in this scenario is with the Canucks for the 5th pick. Rumour has it that they are badly wanting Dubois, so let them make the selection for you. Move back 1 spot, collect maybe a future 2nd (seeing how they don’t have their 2016 2nd) and a 2016 3rd that I believe the Canucks have re-acquired since moving it to the Islanders in the Audrey Pedan deal.
Then again, perhaps a bigger deal goes down.
The more I’ve given it thought this spring, the more I see the Oilers and the Minnesota Wild as great trade partners. They got a few D-men they could part with, and while most believe the Oilers won’t move back more than 4 or 5 spots, a jump of 15 all the way to 4 would be worth a lot more. And at 15, you still can take a kid like Max Jones who is a power forward with maybe more raw ability than teammate Matt Tkachuk.
I’m honestly not sure how much thought has been given by some to the Oilers moving back a max of 5 spots in the draft. Vancouver isn’t paying through their teeth to move up a spot, Calgary likely won’t deal with Edmonton, Arizona is nearly as thin on defence as Edmonton (and really have no need at all to take a winger in this draft), Montreal doesn’t have a current NHL D-man they could package with the 9th pick to move up to 4, and if you want to go one extra….while Tyson Barrie is on his way out in Colorado, they’d need more than a flip of the 4th pick for the 10th pick.
I believe they have a desire to move back, but it is to gather more picks because this team has not only drafted poorly, but they’ve given up a lot of picks in the previous two drafts. Also, don’t forget that the Bruins will own their 2017 2nd rounder.
17 days left until we find out just what the Oilers will do and there are a ton of intriguing possibilities. But make no mistake, taking a defenceman at 4 would be awful, and definitely won’t be an answer to the Oilers current woes on defence. I know most of you realize this, but apparently there are a LOT of people out there who don’t.
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