There is a ton of good stuff available on the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, and, as usual, Lowetide has been doing a pretty good job of collecting the things most of interest to Oilers fans. Another good thing for any Oilers fan to take a look at is the rather incredible draft review over at YKOil's site.
A couple of significant articles have appeared online today too. Jim Matheson has his weekly question-and-answer bit up, and he touches on the draft quite a bit. Here is a partial quote from the article:
The Oilers are in an antsy position, picking at No. 22. They have their usual three or four players targeted, hoping they're still there when they choose, but the selections may be all over the map after the first six or seven players (Steven Stamkos, Zach Bogosian, Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, Mikkel Boedker, Alex Pietrangelo, Nikita Filatov) go. In a perfect world, they'd love to move into the top 10 and get a shot at Colin Wilson, the Boston University forward who's ultra-competitive and not far away from being an NHLer, or taking a flier on a tough kid like Kyle Beach in Everett because he's something they don't have. The Oilers, if they're picking 22, are probably looking at Regina Pats scorer Jordan Eberle. But there's two Swedes who might interest them, too -- puck-moving defenceman Erik Karlsson, who seems a perfect Detroit Red Wing player, or Bengt Gustafson's son, Anton. Gustafsson had issues with lower back problems at the NHL Combine and he'll need to get a positive medical report before the Oilers or anybody else takes him in Round 1. As for Schremp, the Oilers wouldn't move him for a second-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings or Phoenix Coyotes. They've got too much invested in Schremp, the 25th player taken in 2004. Moving well up in Round 1 and having to include Schremp is more of a possibility.
To me, that says one thing in big, bold letters: unless Rob Schremp is to be the premier prospect used in a package for a big fish (i.e, top-6 forward, better 1st round pick), he will be with the Oilers this fall. He isn't a throw-away player, and the brass value him to the point that they feel his value is more than a 2nd round pick.
The other thing that I take out of this is that at least one roster forward is likely on his way out. The Oilers seem to want a 2nd round pick, and if Schremp isn't the bait, it's hard to think of other prospects who would fetch a return that high, beyond the top-end guys who shouldn't be moved. If I had to guess, I'd say Raffi Torres isn't an Oiler past draft day, with Marc Pouliot probably also serving as trade bait.
The other big thing I wanted to comment on is Guy Flaming's 2008 Draft Preview, now up over at Hockey's Future. Here are some choice paragraphs, along with my take.
Currently the Oilers are overstocked at every position and a handful of players would have to be pushed through waivers to get to the minors including Mathieu Roy, Jeff Deslauriers and Ryan Potulny unless moving players higher up the food chain can make room for them. Speculation is that Lowe may try to upgrade his roster by making package deals to solve that problem.
Players will be moved. Roy can probably be snuck down to Springfield without too much worry, but Deslauriers seems destined to start with the big club. Finally, if Potulny has to clear waivers (and I can't imagine that he will), someone on the big roster has to clear out for him. If Reasoner returns, I'd imagine Pouliot is on his way out. The other thing to notice here is that Schremp doesn't have to clear waivers, and if retained could get the same lousy deal that Ladislav Smid got at the start of this season, and that isn't good.
Between the pipes, Dwayne Roloson lost his starting job to Mathieu Garon and with Deslauriers knocking on the door, the Oilers have said they’ll start the year with three goalies if need be. That obviously is not the preferred scenario but unless they can offload the 38-year-old Roloson and his hefty contract to a team needing an experienced goalie, the three-headed monster is what they’ll have.
I'd imagine that Lowe trades Roloson at the draft, maybe even for a late 2nd-round pick. Los Angeles and St. Louis come to mind as teams that might not mind having the veteran as a backup, and have the cap room to boot. (Incidentally, some might argue that Ersberg has the job in L.A. sown up, but given his .897SV% at the AHL level, I really don't buy it). Failing that, Roli could get moved at the deadline.
Finally, my favourite paragraph from the article:
"In the first round we’ll take whatever we want, but after that we need to get big," an Oiler source told Hockey’s Future. "It was one of the problems we had last year in Springfield so we need to get some size in the system."
That, to me, sounds like Brock Radunske, David Rohlfs, and Max Gordichuk are about to get some more company. In fact, that line is enough to make me think that maybe it isn't worth acquiring a second round pick. The Oilers have simply not had success when they've used size as the primary criterion for drafting players.
The good news is that it sounds like the first round pick will be a BPA selection, the bad news is that the rest of the picks may not be.
Update: Robin Brownlee has a nice read up over at OilersNation, and makes some very good points- the big one being that Kevin Lowe traditionally uses the draft more as a place to trade players than picks. Brownlee also suggests that the big move at the draft may not involve the #22 pick, but will instead feature that legendary quantity-for-quality trade, featuring Pitkanen as the centrepiece along with the usual names (Torres, Stoll, Schremp) as possible throw-ins.