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Oilers head into deep draft with lots of ammo

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

BUFFALO, NY - The 2015 NHL Draft is touted as deep; perhaps, the deepest in years. For the Oilers, it couldn’t be a better time to have 10 picks, including seven in the first four rounds.

Experts say you can find two generational players at the top of the draft, all-star talent in the top 10 and just overall more players with NHL potential than usual.

“I think what most teams anticipate is that there will be a stronger number of players that actually play in the NHL one day,” Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said on Friday at the Scouting Combine. “The first round is deep in the top 10, but then you can go from there all the way down to the twenties and they’re all kind of interchangeable parts. It’s just ‘pick your pleasure’ and you’ll be happy with the type of player that you get.”

The Oilers currently hold the first and 16th overall picks in the opening round. They own the 33rd and 57th overall (from Montreal) selections in the second. Then in the third, they have the 79th (from Ottawa) and 86th (from St. Louis) overall picks.

“We’re really excited because we have a lot of picks. The timing of that couldn’t be better,” said Oilers Director of Player Personnel Bob Green. “Every time we look at our lists and talk about players we see that. We get into the third round and beyond and we’re still going to be taking guys that have a great opportunity so it is exciting.”

Edmonton is in a different position than they were a year ago, when they had just six total picks and only three of them were in the top four rounds. It provides a lot more opportunity and gives them a lot more to look forward to at the draft table in Sunrise, Florida at the end of this month. However, no matter if it’s 10 picks, six picks or two picks, it doesn’t matter. The onus is on the Oilers to get the job done.

“Every year you are faced with whatever you have and you do the best with whatever you have,” said Green. “You don’t worry about whether you have lots or not enough or whatever. You’ve got to be prepared for what you have and that’s the way you have to approach it every year.”

The Oilers staff is at the 2015 Combine in Buffalo, NY this week where they have interviewed 88 prospects. If the Oilers hold on to the 16th overall pick, odds are the player they select will have been from that group. And considering the depth of this draft, it will most likely be a steal in their eyes.

“Someone that they’ll be very pleased that’s still there,” Marr said of what kind of player might be available to the Oilers at 16. “That’s what happens on draft day. You have your list and you don’t think that player would be available at that pick. Strange things happen as the draft moves along. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got a guy that they rank maybe 10-11 on their list at that point.”

The depth of the draft stretches beyond the 16th pick.

“The first three rounds are really, really deep and this is where I think a lot of, historically, first and second rounders have the best chance to make the NHL if you look back through previous drafts. But this year is going to go a little deeper into the third round. Now, it does tail off but the emphasis on the front end of the draft is there should be a lot of players that play in the National Hockey League,” said Marr.

An added bonus to that depth and talent is the increased value of picks. If the Oilers wanted to move down, those higher picks have more value than in other drafts. If the Oilers wanted to move picks for players then they may get better offers. Edmonton has expressed interest in at least entertaining these moves. Outside of the first-overall pick, everything could be in play.

“I certainly would look at moving any of those picks for something that would help us right now but also that could grow with our organization,” Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli said earlier this week. “You’re usually talking, relatively speaking, a younger player. I’m not ruling out anything. That’s a lot of picks and it’s good to have a lot of picks and develop players, but we also want to hit the ground running too with some more game-ready players. The discussions are picking up and they’ll continue to be on-going until the draft and they might subside a little bit and then pick up again in and around the free agent date.”

No matter what the Oilers choose to do come draft day, they have the ammunition and the right draft to make things happen either with choosing talented prospects or trading for pieces.

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