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Oilers focus shifts to the draft

Oilers General Manager Peter Chiarelli gave his thoughts on the upcoming draft as the team's focus shifts to Friday's first round

by Chris Wescott / Head Writer

CHICAGO, IL - The Oilers shook up their roster by trading Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome Thursday morning.

The move cleared up some cap space and gave the club a player they like for his smarts, versatility and skill. Now their focus turns fully to the NHL Draft with round one Friday night.

"We have another little meeting tonight with the amateur (scouting) group and one again tomorrow," said Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli.

Video: 1-ON-1 | Peter Chiarelli with Tom Gazzola

"Really, at this point, there's not much (more to do). We have to fine tune our lists and break it down by needs. I've already done that, but you just want to look closer. You jump around a little bit on the list."

The board is mostly set, but as Chiarelli said there could be some tweaking and jumping around. This draft has been criticized for its lack of top-end talent and overall depth, and while Chiarelli agrees with the latter, he has confidence there are good players to be had.

"As advertised, it's maybe not as deep but when you drill down and you look at the draft and focus on some areas and maybe some positional needs, there are players there. You just have to work on it."

Assistant General Manager Keith Gretzky spoke at the NHL Scouting Combine a few weeks ago and expressed confidence in the Oilers depth on defence in the system, implying that if two players are relatively even on the board the team may lean to the forward. Chiarelli echoed that confidence in the team's defensive depth, Thursday in Chicago.

"We have 10 or more defencemen between the birth years of 94 and 98. So depth wise, we're very good," said Chiarelli.

That could lead one to believe that a primary position of focus for the Oilers Friday would be up front.

When the Oilers assess their options in the first round, where they currently hold the 22nd-overall pick, they have a group of four players in mind they project to potentially be available.

"I'd be happy with any of those four players," said Chiarelli.

It's a different situation for Edmonton drafting so low, as 22 is the latest first-round pick they've had since 2008.

"We're used to here having those players step in and play right away but that's not the case anymore so we have to look at it differently."

The Oilers currently hold eight selections; one in the first (22nd overall), two in the third (82nd and 84th overall), one in the fourth (115th overall), two in the fifth (126th and 146th overall), one in the sixth (177th overall) and one in the seventh round (208th overall). They are without a second-round selection.

The first round begins 5 p.m. MT Friday, and rounds 2-7 will take place Saturday starting at 9 a.m. MT.  

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