Edmonton drew the #10 spot for the first round of the 2018 Entry Draft. Unlike several other crap teams, the Oilers kept trying to win in March, despite the futility and despite the certainty they would drop down in the draft. The roosters are now coming home.
In those final weeks a few of us hoped that other teams would win, and despite a reasonable effort, hope the Oilers would lose their share. If you’re not going to make the playoffs, why not get a better draft slot. The flip side is clear. If you have any sense of pride, give it all of you have till the final bell. A fair argument. Now let’s look at the price.
We won’t know how much pride was earned in those last few weeks. But we can see how a lower draft number impacts the quality of the 2018 pick. For this segment – let’s look at the difference between those chosen #10 in the last five years versus #8.
2013. Ristolainen was picked at #8 in 2013 by the Sabres. He’s a stud. Some guy named Nichuskin went at #10 and he’s living the dream in the KHL.
2014. William Nylander went to the Leafs at #8. 20 goals and 61 points last year. Ritchie was drafted by the Ducks and notched 10 goals, 17 assists last year. To be fair, he’s worth more than those numbers suggest. But he’s not Nylander.
2015. #8 meant Werenski – a future Norris trophy winner. The 10th spot went to Mikko Rantenen who would also put up great numbers last year, 84 points!! Not a hall of fame candidate but worth the slot.
2016. A bit of a wash or maybe even washout here. A Nylander had 28 points last year in the AHL. Jost had 22 points in 65 games for the Avalanche. Nothing too shabby for Jost, but hardly a home run.
2017. Mittlestadt went #8 and had a good season in college. Owen Tippett, at #10, is in the OHL and had a very good year – 36 goals, 75 points. It’s too soon to pass judgment on this paring.
If you look at Ritchie, Rantenen, Jost and Tippett all going at #10, there’s no complaint. And the single dud in the group went at #10 (Nichuskin) but that happens. On the other hand, Ristolainen and Werenski are not just good draft picks….they’re tops.
There has been talk about the Oilers trading out of the #10 spot this year. And for good reason. As we get closer to the draft the evidence is mounting that our pick is on the very edge between a great prospect and just another first round pick. I’d be a lot happier with pick #8 this year.
So…..should the Oilers have taken their foot of the gas in March? I’d say yes, but I respect those saying no. But the cost of that strategy is clear, and significant. At this point, the case for staying and picking at #10 is not good. Trade up, trade out but don’t take a flyer. A couple of years ago the Ottawa Senators gave up a third round pick to move up one slot with their first rounder. Frankly, we'd be very luck if that's all it costed this year, with PC in charge.