Depending on who you speak with in Edmonton or even around hockey mad cities, the answer will vary. Some say, take for need, some say take best available player. Others say if they are even at best available player you take the defencemen.
Regardless of each person's opinion, they all should be given consideration regardless. Being the Oilers will not be picking #1 overall this year, (Unless they win the draft lottery on April 10/12) the decision is far more up in the year then previous years. Let's look back at the last two years of picks in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
In Hall's draft year, the only question was which one should the Oilers take. The speedy left winger 'Bull in the china shop" no holds barred Taylor Hall, or the smooth talking, laid back but consistent defensive minded Tyler Sequin? No one else was even in the equation. Some wanted Sequin being he was a centre and that position was dearly needing to be filled in Edmonton. In fact the Oilers even had that discussion with Hall at the Combine about him possibly playing centre in the future.
That same year, both made their respective teams out of training camp and while Hall played a prominent top 6 player role, Sequin played a lot of isolated minutes on the 3rd and even 4th line occasionally. He did however play much more on the wing then he did at centre. When people start saying in Edmonton that Sequin is better (and he may be better in the long run, that we will not know for sometime.) they say we should have picked him cause he is a centre and look at how well he has produced. But did we not just mention he has been brought along as a winger? Yes, he is now transitioning to centre but time will only tell if Sequin can be as elite centre as Hall is a winger. I for one, am glad we got Hall. He represents what I want a Oiler to act like, play like and think like.
Last year, the question was raised between mostly RNH and Adam Larson. People said Hall could play centre, don't draft a centre who is small and only produces on the PP. We need a big defencemen to be the next Lidstrom for the Edmonton Oilers. IN the end, the Oilers choose RNH. (Every team in the league would have chosen him as well) No one a month into the season or since has gone back and said that we should have taken Larson with that 1st pick. Granted Larson is a solid and good defencemen, but Centre's like RNH come very seldom and team's usually never let them go until late in their career's. I love what RNH brings to our team. I love his vision for the game, love for the game and work ethic. He truly is a great mix with what we have started with Eberle and Hall. Those three probably have some of the highest respect from at least 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL, including the GM's.
So this brings me to the question. Who do we pick this year if we pick 2nd or 3rd? I am going on a limb here and predicting based on how things are shaping up that the oilers will be selecting either the BIg Russian Mikhail Grigorenko or the solid all around defencemen Ryan Murray. Both of these players have way more upside then negative things to say about their game. I am not one to value talent and ability or even hockey sense based on some observations from a couple scouts here and there. Every player has a bad game here or there and sometimes there are bad assessments of players cause it was unknown the extent of their injury and the affect it had on their game.
In Ryan Murray, you get that all around defencemen who may be ready to step in as early as next year and start competing hard for a job while honing his game. IN fact, I believe Ryan Murray WILL play his draft year with whatever team drafts him. IMO he has no reason to keep on the WHL path a extra year. He does not really benefit lots from playing with boys. He needs to start working on his NHL game even if at a 5 or 6th defencemen role. The guy can skate, block shots, shoot, stick handle and play well positionally in competition in the CHL, but what about with big tough men? That is a question we will know soon enough.
In Mikhail Grigorenko, you have that 6'3 centre men the Oilers have coveted for years who has skill to play in the top 6. He can skate, pass, has sick puck skills and loves to play centre and wants to be challenged. Yes, he may possibly take a game off here or there. Every player does, don't rate a player by a game or two, rate them by the whole body of their work. (Where have I heard that before?...haha!)
What do the Oilers need more? If the 'Bastard' believes they are equal I think they take Murray. If he believes Grigorenko is the real thing I really believe they take the 'Big Mikhail'. Either way, the Oilers are adding one hell of a player to their roster next year or the next again. Myself, I would take Mikhail cause I believe to find another centre who is a big Centremen for that second line and a great talent with skill is harder to find then a defencemen. This team IMO needs to solidify that second line centre before adding the backend as far as the draft. With decent goaltending this team has proven it is not far off from being a contender. Add a real threat on that second line next year or next and I believe the defence will be coming around soon enough. Having a top two lines in two years of.....Hartikanen/RNH/Eberle, AND Hall/Grigorenko/Paajarvi (change them up if you want) would be a sight to behold in my eyes.
However the same could be said if our backend consisted of Petry/Smid/Whitney/Murray/Schultz/Klefbom with guys like Gerant/Marincin and Musil waiting in the wings.
Regardless of who the Oilers take, I will stand behind "The Magnificent Bastard" and the choice he wants. Why? Cause if he feels Grigorenko is the guy, I believe he knows and see's something great. If he passes him over, he knows something that some of us don't OR he see's far greater potential in a 1 or 2 defencemen. I have Faith, the Bastards decision will be the right one!
LONG LIVE THE BASTARD!
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