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A look back at the 2015 NHL Draft

Ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, takes a look back at the 2015 edition of the event

by Paul Gazzola /

It wasn't just about drafting Connor McDavid.

The 2015 NHL Draft was President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli's first NHL Draft with his new team, along with Head Coach Todd McLellan.

And for the pair, it was an opportunity to begin piecing together a revamped lineup for the coming seasons.

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"The first pick, there wasn't much secret there obviously with Connor joining the organization... the second thing is the player movement," McLellan said at the time. "The ability and the opportunity we had to go out and acquire players we feel can step into the lineup and help the club and move it forward."

The Oilers added to their defence with a trade on Friday of Round 1. Griffin Reinhart joined the Oilers organization after the team swapped the 16th overall selection (acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins) and their second-rounder (33rd overall) to the New York Islanders for the defenceman.

On Saturday, Chiarelli and Co. took a calculated approach to the goalie market inside BB&T Center, working the Draft floor methodically and eventually sending three picks (57th overall, 79th overall and 184th overall) to the New York Rangers for Cam Talbot and the No. 209 selection.

"Obviously, we've had a lot of interest in Talbot for a long time now," Oilers Assistant General Manager Bill Scott said then. "He's a good, young goalie. He hasn't played a ton of games in the NHL yet but he's had great success and all the reports on him are that he's going to continue that success as a number one goalie."

Defenceman Erica Gryba was acquired from the Ottawa Senators for former Oilers prospect Travis Ewanyk and the 107th overall selection - which was traded to the Oilers from the Toronto Maple Leafs on a separate day two deal that included former Edmonton defenceman Martin Marincin.

"When you look at the goaltender and the defencemen that were added, you get different age brackets, different maturity levels but all three we think can come in and contribute to this upcoming season," said McLellan.

In their first Draft, Chiarelli and his team managed to land a promising netminder and two ambitious defencemen.

And a franchise centre.

When calls weren't being made and the management brass stepped up to the podium, the goal was clear: recruit for the organization's defence department. The Oilers did that by selecting defenders Caleb Jones (Round 4, 117th overall), Ethan Bear (Round 5, 124th overall), John Marino (Round 6, 154th overall) and Ziyat Paigin (Round 7, 209th overall).

Edmonton also drafted goaltender Miroslav Svoboda (Round 7, 208th overall) to join the prospect pool.

Two years later, marks have been made.

Talbot savours his starts and flourishes the more he does, evidenced by his 2016-17 record of 42-22-8, his seven shutouts, 2.39 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. He faced the most shots (2,117), made the most saves (1,946), played the most minutes (4294:00) and had the most starts out of any goaltender in the League.

Gryba has been a solid third-pairing option on the backend for the Oilers. He safeguarded the blueline when injuries arised or when McLellan chose to inject some more sandpaper into the lineup.

Reinhart, meanwhile, has continued developing with the Oilers American Hockey League affiliate Bakersfield Condors. He had seven goals and 21 points in 54 AHL games in 2016-17, then jumped up to help the Orange & Blue in the playoffs when Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom were sidelined. Reinhart was able to amass his first career NHL post-season point with an assist in the Oilers 7-1 defeat over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of Round 2. 

The prospects haven't gone unnoticed and are becoming common names themselves.

Seattle Thunderbirds defenceman Bear had a stellar 2016-17 campaign. He charged the offence then led an injury-plagued squad to their first Western Hockey League title. He finished the season a Memorial Cup contender and with WHL Defenceman of the Year honours in part due to his 28-goal, 70-point campaign.

Jones owns a gold necklace from the 2017 World Junior Championship. He finished the year with nine goals and 62 points in 63 games with the Portland Winterhawks, but will soon push for a spot on the Condors alongside Bear. The two are signed to entry-level contracts and could begin their professional careers next season.

Harvard University Crimson defenceman Marino continued his incline in the NCAA. As a freshman, the puck-mover ended 2016-17 with two goals and 15 points in 35 games, winning the Beanpot Tournament and pushing on to the Frozen Four of the NCAA Ice Hockey Tournament.

Paigin - a beanstalk at 6-foot-6 - has already played professionally in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and concluded the 2016-17 season with the Bakersfield Condors. In five games with Bako, the 22-year-old was minus-four and had two penalty minutes.

"It was an exciting two days for me as an individual but more importantly for our organization," McLellan said.

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