Lowetide: What will Edmonton Oilers do in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft?

The Edmonton Oilers have made a first-round selection in all 43 seasons since entering the NHL in 1979, save for one year.

In 2006, then-manager Kevin Lowe dealt the pick to the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline for goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

This season could be the second time.

The Oilers are destined for another “donut draft” at the 2022 edition in Montreal next month. The team is scheduled to choose in the first round, which will be followed by a long stretch of inactivity before general manager Ken Holland and his scouting staff are scheduled to make selections in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.

Round Selection Status

1

29

Edmonton

2

61

Montreal (Brett Kulak)

3

93

Chicago (Duncan Keith)

4

125

New Jersey (Dmitry Kulikov)

5

157

Edmonton

6

189

Edmonton

7

221

Edmonton

Those numbers aren’t written in stone, compensatory selections will impact the final draft slotting.

Oilers fans might expect the organization to add one or two picks before draft day, and it ‘s possible that Holland will deal down from the first round and grab two selections in the top 100.

That was the case a year ago with Edmonton’s first-round selection (No. 20), as the Minnesota Wild moved up to grab goaltender Jesper Wallstedt. Edmonton used the picks on Xavier Bourgault (No. 22) and Luca Munzenberger (No. 90) and something similar is possible this year.

Staying at No. 29

If the Oilers stay at No. 29 and draft a forward, there should be some attractive players in the range. Using only CHL forwards, and just points per game, here are the top candidates for the 2022 draft.

Player League Points-Game

Jordan Dumais

QMJHL

1,603

Shane Wright

OHL

1,492

Matthew Savoie

WHL

1,385

Jagger Firkus

WHL

1,212

Conor Geekie

WHL

1,111

David Goyette

OHL

1,106

Jordan Dumais is an offensive impact player in the QMJHL, and could be a draft steal for an NHL team (I wrote about him in May). Scott Wheeler ranked him No. 33 for The Athletic on his 2022 final ranking, while Corey Pronman does not rank him for The Athletic but does have all other names listed here gone before Edmonton chooses.

Edmonton does not have a strong pipeline of defencemen, and the pick at No. 29 could be a rearguard. Lian Bichsel, a Swedish two-way type, or Noah Warren, who is a mobile shutdown type with a mean streak from the QMJHL, could be available when Edmonton chooses in the first round.

Trading down

Last season Holland traded the first-round selection for a lower first and a third-round selection. If that happens, fans should expect the club to choose from an attractive group of second-round talents who include overage forwards and talented players who spiked later in the year.

Player Pos 2021-22 Age League Points-Game

Ben King

CR

19

WHL

1,544

Theo Rochette

LC

19

QMJHL

1.5

Tucker Robertson

CR

18

OHL

1,191

Reid Schaefer

LW

18

WHL

0.879

David Spacek

RD

18

QMJHL

0.877

Tristan Luneau

RD

17

QMJHL

0.683

Mats Lindgren

LD

17

WHL

0.647

Ages are as of Oct. 1, 2021, and several players on this list are classified as overagers. If Edmonton trades down to around 40, most of this list should be available. Reid Schaefer is spiking, and once the run on defencemen begins in the middle of the first round the available list could disappear in a hurry.

Tucker Robertson and Ben King are interesting overagers, and defenceman David Spacek appears to be wildly underrated. There is value there.

Trading out

This will be the least popular move by management but could pay dividends next spring.

Holland has a team that made the final four that also needs help in important spots. A real No. 1 goaltender, a physical skill winger for the McDavid line and a rugged shutdown defenceman might be the shopping list, and those players are going to cost assets.

Along with veterans like Tyson Barrie, Zack Kassian and Warren Foegele, there’s a good chance the team will need to add young prospects of value to some of the deals. This is especially true in a summer when cap room is tight for the Oilers.

Here’s a list of Oilers prospects who have emerged as prominent NHL options for the future and could be used in trade this summer. The three first-round selections under Holland’s watch (Philip Broberg, Dylan Holloway, Bourgault) are unlikely to move, as GM’s traditionally value their own picks more than the ones who came before they arrived.

Player Pos 2021-22 Age League Points-Game

Xavier Bourgault

RW

19

QMJHL

1.74

Matvey Petrov

RW

18

OHL

1.43

Tyler Tullio

RW

19

OHL

1.3

Carter Savoie

LW

19

NCHC

1.15

Dylan Holloway

LW

20

AHL

0.667

Dmitri Samorukov

LD

22

AHL

0.353

Philip Broberg

LD

20

NHL

0.13

Assuming Broberg, Holloway and Bourgault are not in play, Holland could go to market with young players who have real value in Matvey Petrov, Tyler Tullio, Carter Savoie and Dmitri Samorukov.

The reality, based on NHL history, is the first-round selection this season will have more value to a team. The general manager sending a veteran asset will wish to choose his own player and make his own mark; there are no certainties on Edmonton’s available prospect list.

Samorukov is a player who has trade value. He’s also waiver eligible, and that makes him vulnerable to trade this summer.

Later rounds

This is a strange draft, made so due to the pandemic drafts of 2020 and 2021. Scouting these young players was either difficult or impossible, so a player like Tucker Robertson slipped through the cracks. In a way, his availability this season is a fluke.

Brock Otten from OHL Prospects wrote recently “one of the best two-way centers in the OHL. His 41 goals were third most among 2003 born players and his 81 points were fourth. That’s ahead of a few high NHL draft picks. “

Draft to daylight

There’s a seam the Oilers could take this year, if it’s available, and flourish despite the lack of draft picks. In a way, the club would be borrowing from its own past, and this would be the season to make it happen.

At the 2013 draft, then-manager Craig MacTavish executed two trades in the belief the draft had many similar talents in the second and third rounds. The idea, a good one, was to acquire as many picks as possible from one early second-round pick (No. 37). Here’s how it went:

  • Edmonton traded No. 37 (Valentin Zykov) to Los Angeles for No. 57 (William Carrier), no. 88 (Anton Slephyshev) and No. 96 (Kyle Platzer).
  • Edmonton traded No. 57 (William Carrier) to St. Louis for No. 83 (Bogdan Yakimov), No. 94 (Jackson Houck) and No. 113 (Aidan Muir).

From one draft pick, the club procured five talents. It did not work out, but it was an inspired attempt at adding talent and could work with the right scouting.

Edmonton’s current amateur staff has been doing good business in later rounds in recent years and this could work.

The Carolina Hurricanes did something similar in 2021, as the team kept dealing down for more picks. In the end, the team landed Nos. 40, 44, 51, 83 and 94 in that same stretch of the draft Edmonton mined in 2013.

Bottom line

Ideally, an NHL team would own one pick in every round. A team with a draft list like Edmonton this season will be losing ground on the entire league as the picks come off the board in rounds two through four.

It’s a matter of priorities and where each team is in their cycle to win. It’s go time for the Oilers. This year draft is not important in the same way as previous drafts over the last 12 years.

A player chosen in the first round this season could reasonably be expected to make their NHL debut in 2024-25 and start pitching in with real production a year or two later.

That cannot be the Oilers’ focus this summer. Get the goalie, the rambunctious scorer and the defenceman who makes opponents pay a price for real estate in high scoring areas.

The 2022 draft may see the fewest selections in team history, and that’s just good business.

(Photo of Ken Holland: Michael Bobroff / NHLI via Getty Images)

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