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Chiarelli's recent draft history

A look at Peter Chiarelli's first two drafts with the Oilers, his willingness to trade and eye for value

by Chris Wescott / Head Writer

Peter Chiarelli has had all of two drafts with the Oilers since joining them as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager in April of 2015.

It's a small sample size to work with, but those two drafts paint a picture of a man in charge, willing to wheel and deal to help his team in the present, while also showing a good sense of value and commitment to development for the future.

In 2015, Chiarelli was gifted with the lottery win of a lifetime, securing him and the Oilers the rights to select franchise centre and eventual captain and leading NHL scorer Connor McDavid with the first-overall pick.

That pick was an easy one to make, but it was Chiarelli's deft tinkering after that selection that would help solidify one of the most important positions in the game - the number-one goalie.

With defence a top priority, Chiarelli decided to move the 16th-overall pick (the Oilers' second first-rounder) and their second-round pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for prospect Griffin Reinhart and the 209th-overall pick. Reinhart was a top pick himself in 2012 and the hope is he'll develop into a key piece on the back end with time.

But the goalie position was perhaps an even bigger target for Chiarelli, who had been openly active in the market leading up to the draft. On the second day, Chiarelli moved three picks (57, 79 and 184th overall) to the New York Rangers for their backup on the rise, Cam Talbot.

Talbot has since developed into the club's number-one netminder and turned in a rather impressive end to the 2015-16 campaign, and an even better 2016-17.

The need for immediate help to the Oilers roster continued to shape Chiarelli's moves that day. The club acquired veteran blueliner Eric Gryba, who has been a good locker room piece and a frequent presence on the back end.

In addition to the moves aimed to help the team in the present, Chiarelli worked the board to find good value in prospects with long-term potential.

He selected defencemen Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear with back-to-back picks in the fourth and fifth rounds. Both have had successful WHL careers and will look to jump to the professional ranks this season. Both have shown promise among the team's prospect pool.

 Defenceman John Marino was taken in the sixth round and most recently enjoyed a decent freshman year at Harvard University that included a trip to the Frozen Four.

Chiarelli then dove into the depths of the team's European scouting information, selecting goalie Miroslav Svoboda and defenceman Ziyat Paigin in the seventh round.

In 2016, we saw not a change in philosophy, but the evolution of a long-term plan. With much of the NHL-ready deals made in 2015, 2016 was more about stocking the cupboards. Chiarelli would bring in quite the selection haul, choosing nine players while only making six picks the year before.

The board was kind to the Oilers, dropping Jesse Puljujarvi to the fourth spot in the first round, when many thought he'd be gone before that pick. Chiarelli toyed with the idea of moving out of that spot, and the club even discussed drafting defence, but he stayed put and selected the big Finn.

Value came to the Oilers in the form of Tyler Benson at the 32nd-overall pick. The team thought there was a chance Benson would be gone by that selection, but Chiarelli got the local boy.

The Oilers GM continued to find value, selecting big defenceman Markus Niemelainen in the third round.

During the 2016 draft, the prospect cupboards continued to fill with young players like defencemen Matthew Cairns and Filip Berglund in the latter half of the third round.

The GM also selected goaltender Dylan Wells in the fifth round, and the netminder is coming off a superb 2016-17 season for the Peterborough Petes.

In 2016, Chiarelli also picked up a few university-bound prospects in Aapeli Rasanen (committed to Boston College), Graham McPhee (Boston College) and Vincent Desharnais (Providence College).

These picks came a year after the Marino selection (Harvard).

Chiarelli has shown, even outside of the draft, a liking of college prospects. For example, the GM has signed college players like Drake Caggiula, Matt Benning and Patrick Russell on the free-agent market.

In a small sample size with the Oilers, Chiarelli has shown he's a man who wears many hats on draft day. He's shown he's a flexible drafter in terms of positions and value, and he's also able to make the bigger moves and flip assets to help the team in the present.

This year's draft brings with it a fresh slate of young prospects and a different, evolving roster to fill. Chiarelli and the Oilers currently hold eight picks to play with - plenty of ammunition to do what needs to be done, however the board falls.

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