For the first time in four years, the Edmonton Oilers will not be taking the first overall pick in the NHL Draft. Although they failed to make the playoffs for the seventh straight year, the Oilers managed to climb a bit farther up the ladder and landed at 24th in the league after the regular season. Soon after came the dismissal of General Manager Steve Tambellini, only to be replaced by former head coach Craig MacTavish, who is anticipated to make some big changes for the club.
While their selection will be less of a blockbuster event this year, the 2013 NHL Entry Draft is deep and should see the Oilers come away with a valuable pick.
Top 10 Prospects:
1. Nail Yakupov, RW
2. Justin Schultz, D
3. Oscar Klefbom, D
4. Teemu Hartikainen, LW
5. Martin Marincin, D
6. David Musil, D
7. Olivier Roy, G
8. Mitchell Moroz, LW
9. Martin Gernat, D
10. Daniil Zharkov, LW
When the Oilers ran into injury trouble at center this past season, their lack of depth in that position became glaringly obvious. Without a strong base of support, the Oilers had to resort to moving wingers to fill in at center and/or bringing up prospects with no NHL experience to try to remedy the problem. This resulted in a pretty big losing streak for the young team and had them playing catch-up for the rest of the shortened season.
While the Oilers have a strong pool of defensive prospects in the pipeline, they currently lack a big, tough Chris Pronger-type defenseman in their roster. While they will likely look to fill this void via a trade at the NHL-level, high quality defensive prospects will likely not be overlooked in this draft.
The Oilers have had the luxury of selecting first overall for the past three seasons and have built up a strong base of young, talented forwards with the likes of Nail Yakupov joining established NHL players like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Teemu Hartikainen's departure to the KHL hurts the depth of the forward group, but junior prospects like Moroz and Zharkov are developing nicely. They also have some intriguing young talent on the blue line with the likes of Marincin, Klefbom, and Musil.
The Oilers currently lack strength, size, and grit on a number of fronts. While they have no use for the fourth-line role player with little offensive ability (see Darcy Hordichuk's dismissal), they need more physicality to stay competitive against big, tough NHL teams. The Oilers also lack a truly elite goaltending prospect. They do have a few netminder prospects with strong potential, but none are a sure bet for NHL success at this point.
With the new draft lottery format, the Oilers ended up with the 7th overall pick in the first round. Following that, the Oilers currently hold the 37th and 56th picks and then do not select again until 128th, 158th, and 188th.
Because of the management change and the last three Oilers picks being first overall, it is hard to accurately predict the club's draft day tendencies. There have been rumors swirling that the Oilers may try to trade up from the 7th pick, but many others predict that they will likely retain their original position.
The Oilers have a slight tendency to choose North American-born prospects over European ones, but that is not likely to play a big role in their selection this year. They will be looking to take a high-quality player that can contribute to an area that they are weak in, regardless of nationality.
Hockey's Future Staff Mock Draft Results:
The Edmonton Oilers' 2012-13 season was a clear indication of the lack of depth that the team possesses on their blue line within their current roster. Although they have some great talent coming down the pipeline, without some strength and size on the back end, their smallish skill forwards were unable to generate the type of offense that they are truly capable of and their shots-against per game number was second worst in the league, only surpassing Buffalo. Nurse, standing at 6'4 and 185 pounds, is a strong physical presence on the ice, logging 116 penalty minutes in his last season with the Greyhounds. He also has offensive ability, and has been compared to ex-Oiler Chris Pronger in his versatile playing style. Nurse would be a welcome addition to the Oilers' prospect pool and a key component in what will likely be a multi-phase restructuring on the blue line.