Oilers look to stock up on skill
Head Amateur Scout Stu MacGregor comments on team's draft philosophy
With absolutely no shortage of talent available in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, Stu MacGregor and company will be stocking up on skill.
"It's certainly no secret," MacGregor said, "Craig has talked a lot about skill and the need to add more raw talent to the organization. We've put great emphasis on scouting these players this season and have assembled a list based on that philosophy.
"Craig has some ideas on how he wants to proceed with our organization. Drafting skilled players with the ability to make plays under pressure is a big part of that."
While Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin are expected to go 1, 2, 3, the Oilers know any number of players could fall in their lap at a moment's notice. Among those, Aleksander Barkov, Darnell Nurse, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Valeri Nichushkin and a host of others in all positions could be of interest.
"Monahan is a big centreman with good skill and hockey sense. He's a good faceoff man and he works hard in both ends of the rink.
"Nurse is a big, physical defenceman who's a great skater. He's likely going to be a solid two-way guy that has the ability to get the puck up quick."
Including the seventh and a pair in the second round, the Oilers have a total of six selections at this year's draft. With the winds swirling Saturday in New York City, it's possible one or some of the picks could be parlayed into immediate help via trade.
If the Oilers swing a deal and move down in the draft order, MacGregor is prepared. He and the scouting staff have spent the past several days playing out the scenarios.
Given the skill and long-term potential the prospects have exhibited all season, the scouts aren't too terribly concerned with a small step back.
"No matter where we draft, we're getting a quality player that will be a great contributor to our organization," MacGregor said. "As a group, we feel there's possibly more depth to this draft than there has been in many years. We've done the process accordingly and have put players in the order of where we think we can get them.
"That's where those second-round picks come into play, too. It's nice to have a couple of them (37th and 56th overall) because we see great value in those opportunities."
Camped in midtown Manhattan since Wednesday, MacGregor, MacTavish, Kevin Lowe, Dallas Eakins and the entire Oilers contingent will continue to meet and hammer out their game plan until the draft is set to begin on Sunday (1:00pm MT).
"The brass has been busy and we've been going over our list and checking it over and over again. We're doing everything possible to make sure we're in the right spot heading into the draft."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick