Eight picks in seven rounds including two in the second. That’s what the Edmonton Oilers will be up against at this year’s NHL Draft in New Jersey. As a minor league hockey prognosticator, watching the draft is a delicate situation. Potential trades with other teams often bundle prospects we see on the farm within the confines of “deal sweeteners”. While that’s likely good for the Oilers prospect, it’s rough trails for the fans that have watched them mature on the farm. Watching the draft from a minor league perspective also gives you an overwhelming sense of what the future holds. Perhaps that first rounder taken by the Oilers today doesn’t hit their farm team, but from the second round on back, the majority will in the coming seasons. Some, not all, might finish out any overseas play remaining or perhaps additional junior time, but regardless, you get a tiny peek behind the curtain of what to expect in the coming years.
As you watch the draft unfold keep in mind that predicting both the outcome of these players, and how they’ll fit into your team’s roster (if they every do) is a crapshoot at best. Outside of the top fifteen (or less) picks, the waters get murky. The distance between a second rounder and a fourth rounder, on paper, might seem great, but the quality of the player is really relatively close together. I’m no Mr. Wizard, but a healthy dose of good luck goes a long way.
If the majority of mock drafts are any indication of what’s to come, the Oilers will look to back-fill positionally. They’ll take a center, a few defenders, maybe a goaltender, and they’ll try to find skill buried in the drafting of some very young players. Nurse, Lindholm, Monahan – all three seem to be likely targets (with a few wildcards thrown in as well). Nurse gives you D depth, but Lindholm and Monahan give you the centering you need perhaps sooner rather than later. Either way, it will make for an interesting draft year.
Keep your eyes peeled on those late draft picks. Those are the guys worth cheering for. There’s bound to be a pearl in one of those oysters, just keep shucking.
The draft airs Sunday at 2pm on NBC Sports Network. Tune in.