Once the Edmonton Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft lottery, it didn’t take long for pundits to begin speculating over the effect this would have upon the club’s off-season plans. With the Oilers all but certain to select Erie Otters wunderkind Connor McDavid first overall, GM Craig MacTavish will have some intriguing options to work with to address his other roster needs.
TSN’s Darren Dreger believes MacTavish will go “big-game hunting” this summer via trade or free agency. The Oilers are in need of a starting goaltender and a top-three defenseman.
With the addition of McDavid, the presence of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anton Lander’s improvement, the Oilers now have considerable depth at center. They’ll have even more if they re-sign veterans Derek Roy or Boyd Gordon. Dreger suggests promising center Leon Draisaitl could become a trade chip this summer.
NBC Sports’ Jason Brough notes that MacTavish recently said Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle wouldn’t be dealt. With the anticipated addition of McDavid, however, he wonders if that might change.
Like Dreger, Brough also wonders if Draisaitl could be shopped to address one of their roster needs. Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun ponders the possibility of right winger Jordan Eberle hitting the trade block.
The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples agrees MacTavish must bolster Edmonton’s defense and goaltending but questions if Draisaitl should be a trade candidate. Staples cites the youngster’s size and skills, suggesting he could be shifted to the wing. Staples acknowledges one of the Oilers’ good young forwards, other than McDavid or Nugent-Hopkins, could be moved for a true blueline ace.
MacTavish also has the Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick to use as a bargaining chip. The Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues lack selections in the opening round. Some of those clubs also face shedding salary to free up cap space, making that Penguins pick more enticing. MacTavish could target those clubs for a goalie or defenseman.
The Oilers GM said there’s “zero chance” he’ll trade that first-overall pick. As McDavid is considered a true franchise player, MacTavish could still receive calls from rival GMs hoping to tempt him with a significant package offer.
Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray couldn’t conceal his disappointment over the Oilers winning the lottery, despite getting a fantastic consolation prize with the second-overall pick and the chance to select Boston University center Jack Eichel. Perhaps Murray offers up that pick as part of a package deal to MacTavish in exchange for the top selection.
In recent years, the Oilers had difficulty enticing notable free-agent talent to Edmonton. The presence of McDavid, however, could improve the Oilers’ chances of bolstering their depth via free agency if unable to address their needs through the trade market. There could be some free agents looking forward skating alongside the NHL’s next great superstar.