Oilers Expansion & Day 1 Draft Analysis
No surprise’s in ExpansionThere was very little doubt about who was going to be chosen off the Oilers roster in this years Expansion Draft. Centerman Jim Dowd went to the Minnesota Wild and Swede defenseman Bert Robertsson was picked up by Columbus. With the loss of these two players someone will have too fill the void as a checking line center and pesky number six defenseman. However, there are a few prospects that could come up and fill the void, and the possibility is still there to pick up a free agent that does not hurt the pocket book. Although Jimmy Dowd had success on the fourth line this season ,with his linemates Boyd Devereaux and George Laraque, that would have changed due to the injury to Boyd at the end of the season that might end his playing career. On defense their is a few young defensemen ready to take Bert’s spot and leaving one or both of them in the farm team again for another year may not be healthy for the development and confidence of the players. But the loss of two character players is still too bad and I wish them both success with their new teams just not at the expense of Edmonton.
Draft Day CrazinessFinally the wait is over and we found out which player was going to be traded due to salary implications. Defenseman Roman Hamrlik was sent to the New York Islanders for highly rated defenseman Eric Brewer, young left winger Josh Green, and a second round pick this year which they used to select University of Wisconsin Badger left wing Brad Winchester at the 35th pick. Rookie general manager Kevin Lowe’s first major trade as a general manager was a successful one in that he removed a player whom had a large salary and was potentially looking to have that increased, which the Oilers may not have been able to afford, and in return added depth to the line up which lost some in expansion. Both players can contribute this season with Eric Brewer being the 5th overall choice in 1997, he has potential to be a dominating defenseman with excellent size at 6-3/200lbs and the ability to play both ends of the ice. He should develop his game to another level under the tutelage of future hall famer Kevin Lowe. He will most likely to be paired with Janni Niinimaa next season so Eric will have the opportunity to team up with someone who will show him the ropes and it gives the duo a hard hitting exuberant player with a great attitude who fits the system in Edmonton which should improve his game and showcase his skills.
The icing on the cake may come from Josh Green who will replace Boyd Devereaux on the fourth line if he does not return due to injury. He brings tremendous size at 6-4/212 and will be a menacing partner with George Laraque that could intimidate the opposition with relentless forechecking adding the grit needed to change the complexity of the game with physical play. Drafted by Los Angeles in the second round, 30th overall, in the 1996 draft he has played 76 games the last two years to give him a taste of what is expected of him in the NHL. He has an intriguing package of size and speed with strong play along the boards and in traffic while possessing a decent set of hands, and a few scouts have called him a poor man’s John Leclair. Adding Brad Winchester to the mix only sweetens the deal because he could potentially add another big winger who has good straight away speed and likes the physical aspect of the game while showing a fine wrist shot with a quick release. Especially appealing about this prospect is he shows the ability to be a very good center and his understanding of the game has a presence on the ice that can be intimidating. So, if the big rangy player develops as projected the Edmonton Oilers will be a dominating team with tremendous size and speed to boot. Overall I think the deal will turn in Edmonton’s favor and put them in a position the next couple season’s to move up the standing’s and farther into the playoff’s, for a rookie Kevin Lowe may end up looking like a cagey old veteran.