The end of 2015-2016 NHL regular season is quickly approaching and the Edmonton Oilers, barring some sort of miracle, will not make the playoffs. They are currently tied for the last place in the league with the Toronto Maple Leafs, mustering up only 50 points. If this losing trend keeps up, the Oilers will have high lottery odds yet again, and possibly receive their fifth 1st overall pick in seven drafts. Having the 1st overall pick in the 2016 draft would give the Oilers a plethora of options.
Edmonton has the pleasure of having guys like Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (injured) and Leon Draisaitl at the center position. All three have already proven that they are worthy of where they play. The top 2016 NHL Draft prospect, Auston Matthews, is also a center. Matthews is taking a different draft route than many high-end prospects have, as he is playing for the ZSC Lions of the Switzerland National League. He should without a doubt be ready to compete at the NHL level come next season. Having McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl and Matthews would put them in a sticky situation. None of the three should be a 3rd or 4th line center and might not be very pleased if they were forced to play there. Would one of them be willing to move to the wing? But, passing on Auston Matthews may not be all that bad. Don’t forget about the two Finns, Jesse Puljujärvi and Patrik Laine. These two aren’t a big downgrade from Auston Matthews and they play on the wing. Puljujärvi and Laine both have exceptional skills, many shining components to their games and they’re both over 6’3″. Size, speed, and skill are a deadly combination. Matthews isn’t too far behind them at 6’2″. Drafting one of the Finns could possibly give the Oilers a lethal top 6 forward core, along with a combination Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov.
There is also the unlikely option of trading the first overall pick. The last time a first overall pick was traded in the NHL was in 2003 when the Panthers traded one in a deal involving multiple pieces. This trade led to the Penguins taking Marc-Andre Fleury, one of three goalies in the history of the league to be taken first, along with Rick DiPietro (2000) and Michel Plasse (1968). A trade for the first overall pick could fetch a massive return, possibly including a solid goaltender and defensive help, a very apparent need of theirs. The Oilers may not even end up getting yet another first overall pick, but it will be interesting to see how they choose to use it if they do.