The 16th Pick
We all know that the Oilers hold the first overall pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. We also know that unless something catastrophic happens that the Oilers will be drafting Connor McDavid with that first overall pick. The piece that most of us have over looked (or at least ignored) is the 16th overall pick that Oilers also have courtesy of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the David Perron trade.
So what are the real options that the Oilers have with the 16th overall pick? I thought I’d add my $0.02 and list the most (in my mind) likely possibilities. Feel free to leave your suggestions.
The MacT Possibilty
So before I get into the more realistic possibilities I thought I’d add in a bit of what we've been used to over the past few seasons. When the Oilers originally traded for this pick, the first thought that went through my mind was "Oh great they are gonna draft Vladimir Tkachev in the first round". Obviously with Chiarelli in charge the chances of this happening are slim but don’t forget MacT is still around so you can’t be too sure until it doesn't happen.
Use the Pick
This is probably the most obvious answer. The Oilers already own the draft pick so why wouldn't they use it? Looking at the draft lists there are a lot of decent players around the 16th spot. You can see them here, here, here, here, here and finally here. This option also makes this exercise pretty boring so let’s move on.
Package the Pick to Move Up in the Draft
If the last option was boring this one comes in a close second as the most boring option. This could be interesting but only if Chiarelli uses some sort of a Voodoo Jedi mind trick on Tim Murray or Don Maloney to get the #2 or #3 overall pick. There are some other nice options before 16 but they won’t be franchise changing players. So once again let’s move on.
Package the Pick to Get a NHL Player
This is where things get interesting. If this pick is packaged with something of interest it could really help the team. Under this category there are 3 options.
Package Pick to Reduce Oilers Cap
This is a salary dump and is probably the worst of the bunch. In an effort to lose a bad contract like Nikita Nikitin the Oilers offer up the pick + Nikitin for a decent prospect and a lower pick. The Oilers shed $4.5M from their cap hit but are now short a defenseman.
Package Pick to Avoid an Over Payment
The over payment in this option is pretty obvious. Thanks to a bold move by Craig MacTavish, Justin Schultz got over paid last off season by quite a bit. The Oilers need to match the $3.675M from last season or take the matter to arbitration to reduce it to $3.1M. The Schultz camp will be looking for a raise and anything north of $3.1M is an over payment.
To avoid this situation the Oilers could offer the pick + the rights to Justin Schultz. Hopefully the name Schultz carries more weight than Nikitin around the NHL but I have a feeling it doesn't. The return would be close to the Nikitin deal and again the Oilers would be short a defenseman.
Package Pick to Fix Defense/Goaltending
This option makes the most sense but it will end up costing the Oilers more than just the pick and a random 3rd or 4th liner. One of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Nail Yakupov would need to be involved. Whether this happens now or later, a trade like this will have to happen and Chiarelli doesn't seem like the kind of guy (unless forced - see Tyler Seguin) to make a trade from a losing position. Thanks to a bad season from Hall and a coach that felt that Yakupov could only play with non-NHL players that leaves Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. And since the Oilers are still rather weak at centre the choice is pretty obvious. The most bank for the buck is Eberle.
If the Oilers want to land a real top pairing defenseman with the 16th overall pick the +1 will probably have to be Eberle.
The nice thing about that first overall pick is that it really gave the Oilers a lot of options with this 16th overall pick. Hopefully by June 26th we are all discussing what the Oilers did with this pick and how it will be key to the success of the organization.