As fans are well aware, the NHL Entry draft is fast approaching. In the lead up to the big day, Oil On Whyte will be bringing you coverage on the major aspects of this year’s draft. It’s one of the most unpredictable in recent memory and has plenty of story lines attached to it. Today, we are going to have a look at the ramifications of some trade scenarios that could emerge from the draft, with a focus on the Florida Panthers. Tomorrow, I will be looking at possibilities within the Buffalo Sabres organization.
This year’s draft has the overall quality of lacking depth, as many have pointed out in the lengthy debate that always precedes the annual event. For most Canadian fans, it is the International Scouting Service and Craig Button’s draft lists that hold the most weight. Let’s see how their top 3 compare:
(this draft list can be found in full at isshockey.com)
Consensus seems to be pointing to Sam Reinhart as the number one pick this year. It’s a mild shift for Aaron Ekblad, who rated at the top for most of the last season. It’s a bit of a surprise that the ISS chooses Michael Del Colle at number three, but consider that he had the same point total as Reinhart in junior this year with 105 points and is the top rated winger in the draft this year.
That’s just ratings, however. What the teams will pick or whether they will trade the pick or not remains up in the air. None of the top drafting teams (Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers) will do themselves any measure of harm by drafting any of these four fellows, nor the large bodied center Leon Draisaitl. The 105 point scoring Prince Albert Raider is said to be a player Edmonton scouts are keen on.
The reality is that these teams, along with the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders, have been drafting high for years and it hasn’t borne much fruit as of yet. It doesn’t sound too crazy, especially given this years’ weaker pool of eligible draftees, to predict multiple trades on the floor in Philadelphia this July. Florida has already publicly batted around the possibility of trading their pick.
So, then, if Edmonton plays ball with GM Dale Tallon, what kind of moves would make sense?The first that comes to mind is a swap that would likely include a prospect or pick, or even a real NHL player attached to the first overall choice. The two Sams are players that could be useful to any team. If the Oilers were to recieve a strong player in return or first choice, anything is possible.
—1st Overall Pick
—3rd Overall pick
This would be a dandy trade for the Oilers. Eventually, GM Craig MacTavish has to start utilizing the defensive depth that has built up around the farm team in Oklahoma. Gernat is expendable, giving the Panthers a solid blue line prospect. The Panthers recieve a veteran NHL player in Sam Gagner who can be counted on for at least 40 points per year. In the smaller and softer Eastern Conference he would be more likely to thrive. The Oilers can draft Aaron Ekblad, and they get a young, big center in Bjugstad. Florida can draft Reinhart or Bennett, effectively replacing and upgrading on Bjugstad. The Oilers get a player who has a full NHL season under his belt, with promising numbers. See below for more.
Would Florida entertain such a deal? They might. Although Gagner’s $4.8 million salary is an albatross in the trade market, the Panthers have plenty of breathing room. The team currently has over $30 million in cap space, according to capgeek.com. Bjugstad is a first round pick, so the Oilers may need to add another pick or prospect, or take on another contract. Ed Jovanovski ($4.125 million cap hit) would make sense, as would Brian Campbell ($7.142 million cap hit), if he retreated on his no trade clause. If the Oilers wished, they could buy out either of those players and release them to free agency. There are possibilities here; hopefully both GM’s are open to negotiations.
Okay, stay logged into Oil On Whyte. Tomorrow, we look at the Buffalo Sabres and possible moves the copper and blue could make with a fellow organization down in the dumps.