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MacTavish has options heading into the draft

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON - "It's about looking into the future and preserving what we've built to this point."

And with that, Craig MacTavish's plan is in place.

The general manager of the Edmonton Oilers heads into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft motivated to make a move. With the seventh overall pick and a variety of other assets in play, MacTavish's already busy week is getting crazier by the minute.

"I've talked to virtually every (general) manager," he said. "There's a lot more activity over the phone lines over the last week or so. I've put in a lot of calls, maybe needlessly, but it's good to get a pulse of what everybody's trying to do.

"We're really motivated to do something to help this current roster.

"I've had a number of offers for our pick, but nothing that even remotely would sway me to move it. You get varying degrees of realism when you talk to some of the managers, but at the end of the day, it's our decision to make. We know the default option is a good one and we'd get a very good player there."

If the Oilers do swing a deal for immediate help, MacTavish has little interest in moving too far back in the draft order. Currently in the seventh spot, he expects at least "one of about four" players of interest to be available.

"It would have to be something really worthwhile, but that seems unlikely at this point," MacTavish said. "As the draft comes up, maybe I'll be presented with some of those choices and maybe we'll do something if I believe it will help our current roster.

"(Head Amateur Scout) Stu (MacGregor) and I have had many discussions about players we'd like to get and when we think they would be available. We don't want to get caught on the outside of that crop."

Considering his past, MacTavish has an especially strong handle on this year's class. Previously working as the club's senior vice president of hockey operations, he spent a good chunk of this past season scouting a variety of players across North America and Europe.

While Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin are expected to go 1, 2, 3 to the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning respectively, proclamations beyond that are anyone's guess.

One thing's for sure: There's certainly no shortage of talent and high-end building blocks within arm's reach. Aleksander Barkov, Darnell Nurse, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Valeri Nichushkin and many others could be available when the Oilers step to the podium on Sunday afternoon.

"It's hard to think that I'll be more prepared and have a better understanding of what these players are more so than today, because I spent a lot of time looking at them," MacTavish said. "Through the course of the last six months or so, I've seen a lot of players that I'm very excited about adding to our team. Early on in the year, I realized that there were a lot of players out there that would excite me.

"Certainly at seven, there are a lot.

"If there are a couple players available there, they may have the opportunity to play (right away). But our goal is to draft the player that's most going to have an impact over time."

Including a pair in the second round  (37th and 56th overall), the Oilers have a total of six selections at this year's draft. And as far as MacTavish is concerned, that's a rather significant bankroll with which to work.

"Second round picks are the most liquid currency and we have a couple of them," he said. "We have an opportunity to add a player through the draft and the potential to add some veterans with some of our picks, too."

With the intention of overhauling his Bottom 6 this summer, MacTavish isn't ruling out the movement of existing roster players as well. Considering the Oilers are moving to a heavier and more competitive division next season, adding "meat" to the third and fourth lines is one of his top priorities.

But make no mistake -- the muscle must complement a certain skill set. The Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks are the perfect example of that.

"It's an area that we've all talked about as a real area of concern for our team," MacTavish said. "We're going to need big, strong players to compete. If we do add these players, they're not going to be 33 or 34-years-old. They're going to be guys in the 25, 25, 27 range that can contribute to our team."

With the vision in place, MacTavish's chance to execute should make for an exciting week on the east coast.

-- Ryan Dittrick, | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick
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