Thursday, 21 June 2012
06/21/12 Oilers Storylines Before the Draft
Twas the night before the draft and all through the house, hockey fans are shaking with anticipation and just want it to get started already. It doesn't rhyme, but it's true. Here are some storylines that Oilers fans will keep an eye on.
First thing's first
The Oilers have narrowed the field for first overall consideration even further on Thursday. According to Bob Stauffer via Stu MacGregor, the Oilers are down to two players who they'd be comfortable with at number one. Seems fair to say that the short list is Yakupov and Murray, and in the end Yakupov's higher ceiling will more than likely win out. On Tuesday I gave my two cents on why the Oilers won't trade down despite a torrent of rumors to the contrary, so expect to see Yakupov as an Oiler for the first time.
Changes to the D
Once again from Stauffer via OilersNow: the Oilers could be in the market for a defenseman on Saturday. He expects some movement on defense by Monday, and he wouldn't mind pursuing Jay Bouwmeester if at all possible, but is unsure if the Flames would move him to Edmonton or if Bouwmeester would waive his no trade for Edmonton. Bob thinks the Flames could get a late first round pick and a 'B' prospect for him. Bouwmeester is a little bit like Shawn Horcoff in that he's under-appreciated because of his cap hit. He's still a minute-munching number one defenseman in this league, has played every game since 2003-04 and collected 249 points since the lockout. Seems like a long shot of a deal unless a third team is involved, and that makes it even harder to imagine. Bouwmeester would certainly help the Oilers and he only has two more years left on his deal. Before it ends Nugent-Hopkins and the first overall pick will still be on their entry level contracts, and once it ends it could be renegotiated.
The Oilers could also try to acquire Justin Schutz's rights from Anaheim some time on the weekend, and it seems like a forgone conclusion that the two teams must be in somewhat constant communication. Edmonton has a history of trading with the Ducks as recently as the Cogliano and Ryan Whitney deals, so they should be fairly comfortable in negotiations. Anaheim's exclusive 30 day window to try to make a deal with Schultz closes on Sunday, so his rights are becoming less and less valuable. That could be the reason no deal has been done as yet.
If the Oilers pull a trade for a defenseman at the draft, it may come out of left field. There are only so many players who are commonly known to be available, but as we saw with the Gilbert/Schultz swap, sometimes things just materialize. If there are no changes before Monday this off season isn't a failure, but this weekend is a huge opportunity.