Well Oilers fans, it has been an exciting season to watch (at times). A huge improvement from the last few years, this is a year to build off of.
Playoff hopes are still alive, but are very slim.
An article on here that I can across explain the Oilers' chance to crack the playoffs (http://www.coppernblue.com/2013/4/5/4186070/oilers-playoff-chances). According to this article, the Oilers need 57.3% of the available points to get into the playoffs, which is 55 points in this shortened season. They currently have 39, with 10 games to go. To reach the 55 point mark, they would need to go 8-2-0 to get a playoff berth. With three "easy" games out of the 10, that brings the OIlers up to 45 points. Playing Chicago twice, and Anaheim three times, the chances of losing two of those five games are slim.
I still hope the Oilers can have a great streak going into the playoffs, but it isn't looking in our favor. It's time to look at the draft.
The 14 teams that do not make the playoffs, have a chance at the 1st overall pick. Ranging from 30th in the league with a 25% chance, to 17th in the league with a 0.5% chance. So by an educated guess, the Oilers will get the 9th-14th pick in the draft, unless a miracle happens and they get the first overall pick. Which if they did get, would be Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, or Jonathan Drouin. Back to reality, that leaves the names like Hunter Shinkaruk, Valeri Nichushkin, Anthony Mantha, Curtis Lazar, Valentin Zykov, Max Domi, and Zach Fucale. Each one of these players have a special ability they could bring to the Oilers lineup, whether it's right away, or in a few years.
Here is a short description of each player, from (http://nhl.si.com/2013/03/15/nhl-2013-draft-rankings/)
9. Hunter Shinkaruk, F, Medicine Hat, WHL: I wrote last time that there’s more than a little of Patrick Kane’s flash in his game, and Shinkaruk showed that down the stretch, scoring some timely goals with more than a little flair. He disappears from time to time, but you have to respect his game-breaking potential and work ethic. (PR: 9)
10. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk, RUS: I’m not saying I would take the huge (6-foot-4, 200-pound) Russian this high, but I can’t ignore the rising sentiment from the scouting community that he’s a top-10 pick. His performance at the Five Nations tournament generated lots of buzz–he was a load down low, virtually uncontainable–but I remain skeptical about his ability to translate his game to the NHL level. Still, I can’t dismiss his potential. (PR: 17)
11. Anthony Mantha, LW, Val D’Or, QMJHL: Mantha heads into the final weekend as the Q’s leading goal scorer (48). No surprise there. He scores pro-style goals, using his size to get into the greasy areas and a quick release to get the puck away. (PR: 14)
12. Curtis Lazar, C, Edmonton, WHL: He was just starting to get his game back together after a rough start when my previous rankings were produced. Now? He’s in top form, using his speed and vision to put up points while working diligently in his own end. There’s more than a little Mike Fisher in his game. (PR: 21)
13. Valentin Zykov, RW, Baie-Comeau, QMJHL: Just two rookies have hit the 40-goal mark in the Q over the past 10 seasons: Sidney Crosby and Mikhail Grigorenko. Zykov, sitting at 39, could get there this weekend. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound winger has a terrific release. (PR: NR)
14. Max Domi, C, London, OHL: I’m starting to hear whispers suggesting he could drop, but I’m not buying them…yet. The dynamic Domi finished second in the OHL’s Western Conference coaches’ poll in both stickhandling and playmaking. The question is, can he work that same magic along the wall if he’s moved to the wing as a pro? (PR: 13)
16. Zach Fucale, G, Halifax, QMJHL: Sure, he plays behind a powerhouse squad in Halifax, but his 44 wins heading into this weekend (March 16-17) is the most by a Q goalie in 34 years. The kid knows how to come out on top. Talent-wise, I think this is the right slot for Fucale, but with more than a few teams looking for a long-term goalie option, he could go much higher. (PR: 17)
Now, a look at the Oilers roster and prospects is nice. For starters, the right wing slot has some depth with Eberle, and Yakupov, already on the roster. Center could use a boost as of right now, but with a lot of other center's prospects, could be hard to crack the squad in a few years. Left wing also has a lot of depth in prospects, but not many that are top-six potential within a few years with the exception of Hartikainen. Defense probably has the most depth out of all positions, leading the way is Justin Schultz. That brings up goaltenders. Zach Fucale could be that goalie of the future. Of course there is Devan Dubnyk who is getting a majority of the starts, also there is Tyler Buns, Oliver Roy, and Niko Hovinen but those are only prospects who are a long shot of being that might not even be a starter for the entire season someday in the NHL.
It's all up to the organization on who they take with their first round pick. Hopefully they take the right guy, and he turns out to be a star player on an already young roster.