With winning the NHL Draft Lottery tonight, the Oilers have moved from having the Number Two pick to having the First Overall Pick in this year’s NHL Draft. This will be only the second time that a team has held the First Overall Pick in three straight years; the last team was the Quebec Nordiques in ‘89, ‘90 and ‘91.
The clear Number One player coming up to tonight is Nail Yakupov, a winger from the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. He’s been the clear number one guy almost right from the start and has firmly held onto it all season long. He is also the guy I think that the Oilers will pick, if they don’t trade the pick before the Draft. The ONLY reason I can think that the Oilers would trade the pick for is either a Star Defenseman to replace Ryan Whitney or a Star Goaltender which would mean that Devan Dubnyk would remain a backup.
However I think the Oilers will keep the pick and go with Nail Yakupov. Now assuming the Oilers do draft Yakupov, here is a look at our top 6 forwards going into next season. We would have: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner (assuming he’s not traded) and of course Nail Yakupov.
Now if the Oilers can solidify themselves on defense next year and find a suitable backup/tandem goaltender to play with Dubnyk they could easily make a run for the playoffs next season. We can also look at our bottom 6 possibilities as we have a lot of different looks available to us with the pick of Yakupov.
We have guys like Ryan Jones, Ryan Smyth, Teemu Hartikainen, Magnus Paajarvi, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuck, and that is just our wingers.
We have some options at Center too, and who knows what will happen with trades, but a guy like Chris VandeVelde could easily take the fourth line center spot next season which could leave guys like Shawn Horcoff or Eric Belanger looking for a spot in the lineup if they aren’t traded.
Of course almost any of these bottom six guys could be used in a trade of some kind but we’ll see what happens here.