a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Friday, 22 April 2011

04/22/11 17.0 How to Trade Up at the Draft

There is nothing that Oiler fans would like more than to get another top-ten pick at this year's draft. Of course, many fans wanted that last year, and so did the organization. Steve Tambellini tried hard to gain another pick in the first round on draft day, but it was not to be. In fact, no team that wasn't already picking in round one last year was able to trade into the first round on draft day, and not for lack of trying. This year the Oilers have the added bonus of a second mid-range first rounder, which may help them to move up. If they had had one last year, they might have been able to get into the top 5-15. Can it be done this year? And if so, how?

The 2010 draft gives us one clue as to the value of a pick higher than your own, and what it takes to move up. The LA Kings were able to move up four spots last year from 19th to 15th. This is a great example for Oiler fans because it's likely that the Oilers will have exactly the 19th pick this year from LA. The Kings gave up a second round pick in the same draft to Florida to acquire the 15th overall pick, and the pick that Florida gave up was one they acquired previously from Boston. So, the price to move up four spots at last year's draft was a second round pick, and only because the 15th pick was Florida's second 1st round pick.

Colorado has a second first-rounder in this year's draft - 11th overall - that came from St. Louis in the Erik Johnson deal. Could the Oilers acquire that pick?

The trick to moving up in the draft is not to think of it as moving up. What is actually happening is that Team A is giving value to Team B to move down. As such, the team trying to move up must put themselves in the other team's shoes and think what it would take for them to move down. In this case, if the Oilers were the ones picking 11th overall, what would it take to get them to move down 8 spots? Most fans would say that it would take a lot. Then again, it helps that Colorado is already picking second overall too, and potentially filling a major hole.

Colorado is in an enviable position because there is so much similar talent at the top of this draft. Is it better to be picking 1st and 19th or 2nd and 11th this year? Which team is really in a better position? Colorado's management likely knows what a good spot they are in, which means it would take more than the Oilers would like to give up to get them to trade the 11th pick. Ales Hemsky is one of the Oilers' somewhat more expendable forwards now. Could the Oilers trade the 19th pick and Ales Hemsky to the weak-winged Avalanche for the 11th pick? That's a steep price, but if the Oilers don't think they can or will re-sign Hemsky, it may make sense. Then again, Hemsky is entering the final year of his deal and he's also played just 69 games in the last two seasons. He's probably not enough for a team that's still in rebuilding mode.

In fact, Hemsky is almost certainly not the most desirable piece the Oilers have for any team that's picking in the top ten, except for the Boston Bruins.

If the Bruins fail to win the Stanley Cup this year, GM Peter Chiarelli will be looking to make a big splash for next season to push his team over the top. Taking Tyler Seguin second overall last year gives the Bruins some real breathing room when it comes to trading draft picks, and it may make them willing to move the 9th overall pick that they acquired from Toronto. Boston is in win-now mode, which means that the fact that Hemsky's contract is almost up isn't as detrimental to a potential deal. Add to that the fact that Boston right-winger Mark Recchi is likely to retire after this season and you have the makings of something interesting.

Despite all that, it would be hard for Boston to trade themselves completely out of the first round. The Oilers could move up ten spots by trading Hemsky and the 19th pick for the 9th overall pick. If it took Los Angeles a second round pick to move up four spots, it will take at least Hemsky for Edmonton to move up ten. The way that this draft is shaping up, it could still be wide open at number 9. If players like Ryan Murphy, Duncan Siemens, or even Sean Couturier were available at number 9, this could be a good trade for the Oilers.

Even if it's not Hemsky who gets traded, the Boston Bruins are the most likely avenue for the Oilers to get a second top ten pick. The fact that this year the Oilers can offer a replacement pick makes it all the more likely. It's still probably a long shot that Boston will trade a pick in the top ten, but if any team would, it's them. And, even if it's not Edmonton who gets the 9th overall selection from Boston, expect that pick to be in play.

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