Currently, the Oilers first pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is the 22nd overall selection. Despite being positioned in the bottom of the first round, it still offers the Oilers some interesting and talented prospects to consider. Who the Oilers ultimately select will be determined not only by which players remain on the draft board but also what need the Oilers want to answer with their first round pick.
If the Oilers want to draft a right defenseman, they may consider Callan Foote. Foote has spent the last two seasons with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Last season, the Rockets made the Western Conference Finals of the WHL playoffs. Foote had seven points in 14 playoff games in addition to his 57 points in 71 regular season games. Foote’s points per game are respectable for a defenseman at 0.80. He’s also a right handed shot. The Oilers defense is primarily composed of left handed shots making this an advantage for Foote. He would fill a need for the Oilers, especially on the power play. Several times over the last season, Oilers fans have lamented the lack of right handed shots on the Oilers.
Foote has the size at 6’4” and over 200lbs to make an impact on the blue line. From the reports on Foote, he is comfortable using his size and strength to make an impact on opposition forwards. There is no guarantee that this physicality would make the transition from major junior to the professional leagues. The Oilers will be hoping that whichever player they draft will transition to the NHL with little trouble. This has not been the case with many recent Oilers defensive prospects, Griffin Reinhart being one of the more notable names, who have had trouble transitioning from the AHL to the NHL.
Scouting on Foote highlights Foote as being an “incredibly tough defenseman to beat in the defensive zone who is only going to get better.” If the Oilers are looking to add a defenseman who appears to be well rounded and good at both ends of the ice with their first round pick, Foote could be well worth a second or third look.
Born in December of 1998, Foote is one of the older prospects in the draft as well. While that doesn’t necessary mean much, Nolan Patrick being born early in this draft class was one of the positives scouts referenced. Foote also has some offensive spark as shown by his 51 assists for the Rockets last season. He’s a capable two-way defenseman for a team which has struggled in recent years to assemble a strong defensive core.
A major downside is that NHL Central Scouting has ranked Foote 12th overall for North American skaters. Having Foote as a primary target may leave the Oilers scrambling to reassess on Draft day. The Oilers late pick in the first round means a different set of considerations than they have previously used on Draft Day. If the Oilers have the opportunity to select Foote, the Oilers will have chosen a player who has all the earmarks of being a solid future defender.
The other reason Foote may not be a good choice is that Foote is a safe choice. He’s not a flashy player and he won’t be ready to make an immediate impact in the NHL. Depending on the expectations for the first round pick, Foote may not be a good fit for what the Oilers are trying to achieve. Foote would fill a position which the Oilers need to fill, but they may not wish to do so through the draft. Foote comes to the draft as a talented prospect, but like most prospects, he is not NHL ready. If the Oilers want a more NHL ready player, Foote isn’t a good fit.
If the Oilers plan to trade for a young defenseman, they would not be as keen on adding another defensive prospect. They may elect to select a forward or they may choose to trade down and select at a later point. What the Oilers do might also depend on if the Las Vegas Golden Knights create a hole in the Oilers roster which needs to be filled more urgently. No matter what the Oilers decide to do Draft Day, Foote remains a good choice based on the Oilers current needs.