The draft is now done and the Oilers made the right choice in taking the best player available, Nail Yakupov. I had been heading down to Whitefish for a bachelor party, actually crossing the border as the pick was made, so was pretty happy the weekend didn’t get off to a bad start with a big Oilers mistake. The rest of the Oiler’s draft can be fairly judged as questionable at best, but since the big pick was right, and the stag was awesome, I am happy.
Now that all that hijinks is over with we have looming free agency to look forward to! Let’s take a look at some of the players available that could help the Oil.
In 1995 the draft was held in Edmonton. To chants of Doan, Doan, Doan; the Oilers stepped up to the podium to select…..Steve Kelly who went on to play 147 NHL games, scoring 21 points. Winnipeg opportunistically picked up Doan who has been a core player with the organization for 16 seasons since. Finally after years of loyalty to the organization and loving life in the desert, TSN reports today that Doan intends to test the waters in free agency. Does Edmonton finally have a chance to right a decade and a half old wrong? I have no idea if Doan would have any interest in the Oilers, or if his salary expectations make any sense but could you imagine a top nine of Hall, RNH, Eberle, Yakupov, Gagner, Hemsky, Smyth, Horcoff and Hemsky? Drools……
D-man Justin Schultz will be offered the entry level max cap hit of ~$3.8 million from every team in the league. Top hockey insider Bob Mckenzie among others have called Edmonton the front-runner; while Oilers colour commentator Bob Stauffer tweeted he ranks the Oil at 4th in the Schultz sweepstakes behind Vancouver (home team), and New York /Toronto who have buddies of Schultz's playing for the team. Please God, let Schultz like the idea of playing with the young studs in Edmonton and sign on to shore up the blueline.
I have mentioned Guillaume Latendresse previously as a potential great pickup and the Wild followed through on their part of the bargain, by not qualifying him.
Even if the Oilers land Schultz they need more than one reliable d-man to be safe this season with potential injury concerns for Ryan Whitney, and the possibility of regression from RFA Jeff Petry who had a nice coming out party this season. The right side is the weak side and I like a big, mean guy like Cory Sarich who was used in a depth role last season in Calgary. His pay-grade was too high and I have heard the Flames have no intention of re-signing him. Could be a good pickup at the right price.
Finally in net, Tambellini has foolishly stated Nik Khabibulin is staying, which is good if the Oilers are gunning for Nathan MacKinnon next draft, but I am personally tired of the team I love being the laughingstock of the league. As I wrote previously, I would have loved to see Harding as an Oiler, but that ship has sailed. The best available options to backup Dubnyk would now appear to be Johan Hedberg and Scott Clemmensen who posted SV% of 0.915 and 0.912 respectively in the last 3 seasons. Those guys are 39 and 34 though, so not long term solutions. Hopefully ST has a change of heart and NK gets the buyout at any rate.