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Draft Preview: Edmonton Oilers – Spinning the Wheels

The Oilers’ surge to Final 8 two years ago seems like a distant memory. It's time to get Connor McDavid some help.

And so another off-season of unrest begins. The Oilers will have a new architect in place to reshape the lineup around the speed and genius of Connor McDavid, who enters his fifth NHL campaign in October. It remains to be seen if the incoming GM has the desire to strip the roster down to the wood and start over or if the new boss feels more comfortable with a heavy fine-tune. Edmonton’s 10th top-10 pick in 11 drafts may have a chance to step right in.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: Take your pick. The Oilers need more speed, more finish, more mobile D-men, more cap space and more confidence. Tops on the wish list has to be a master blaster from the blueline. Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom were the only ‘D’ regulars to score on the power play, and they only had one each, a stunningly low total. Edmonton’s power play lacks a boomer.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: It was a bit of a shock when the Oilers went all-in contract-wise with goalie Mikko Koskinen partway through a decent first season. He’ll be 34 when that lucrative deal expires in three years and it isn’t a lock he’ll still be the starter by then. Then again, there isn’t anyone in the system who’s on track to replace him.

CAP SITUATION: The Oilers have at least $10 million to fill out a half-dozen roster spots, so they won’t be big shoppers come the start of July. So much depends on what direction the new GM wants to go. Perhaps a bad-contract-for-bad-contract trade freshens up the outlook and a couple decent low-budget signings strike oil.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: Evan Bouchard looks to have exactly what Edmonton needs on the blueline. He moves the puck with swagger, has a big shot from the point and soon will be eating up 20-plus minutes. He turns 20 early in 2019-20 and has star potential. It’s time for 2017 top pick Kailer Yamamoto to deliver.

DID YOU KNOW: The Oilers are encouraged by the first completely healthy season of Edmonton native Tyler Benson in several years. The second-rounder from 2016 led AHL Bakersfield in games and points and re-established himself as a blue-chipper at 21.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Kyle Brodziak, 214th, ’03
Matthew Lombardi, 215th, ’00
Erik Gustafsson, 93rd, ’12
Tobias Rieder, 114th, ’11
Jujhar Khaira, 63rd, ’12
Zack Stortini, 94th, ’03
Chris VandeVelde, 97th, ’05
Brandon Davidson, 162nd, ’10
Jussi Markanen, 133rd, ’01
Troy Bodie, 278th, ’03

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 115
100+ NHL GAMES: 13
PERCENT SUCCESS: 11.3%
NHL RANK: 20th

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