BUFFALO -- The Edmonton Oilers have the fourth pick of the 2016 NHL Draft and feel they're in a very good position.
"I think the fourth pick has certainly got a lot of value and it seems to be picking up value," Oilers senior vice president of player personnel Scott Howson said Saturday at the 2016 NHL Scouting Combine. "... The top end of this draft is very strong. There's going to be an excellent player at four."
That player could be a defenseman. There certainly are a number of highly regarded defensemen available including Jakob Chychrun of Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League, Olli Juolevi of London of the OHL and Mikhail Sergachev of Windsor of the OHL.
"It depends what you're looking for," Howson said. "They're all different in their own right but all very skilled in their own right. That's really going to be a personal taste, what kind of defenseman are you looking for and what's your preference. Some teams may prefer a puck-moving defenseman more than somebody that has some size and maybe isn't as good with the puck. They're all very high-end at what they do well."
However it's not a certainty the Oilers select a defenseman at No. 4. Howson said the player they pick will be the best available, regardless of position.
"You get into a little bit of trouble when you start drafting for need at the high end because you can bypass a better player," he said. "Certainly as you go through the draft maybe you look more at need. Where we're picking it's who's going to be the best NHL player."
Howson also said the player selected will not need to immediately enter the Oilers lineup. While forwards Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nail Yakupov (2012) and Connor McDavid (2015) played immediately after being drafted, they took a slower path with forward Leon Draisaitl (2014) and defenseman Darnell Nurse (2013).
"We'd all like somebody who could contribute right away but that's not going to drive the pick," Howson said.