Oilers bide their time in NHL draft before adding size and goaltending depth
PHILADELPHIA – The biggest moves the Edmonton Oilers made to affect Day Two of this NHL draft came well before they were ever on the clock.
Within the last year, they sent their second-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for winger David Perron and their third to the Los Angeles Kings for goaltender Ben Scrivens. So general manager Craig MacTavish expected to sit on his hands for a while until Edmonton’s first pick in the fourth round, and that’s exactly what he and his staff did.
“It was difficult sitting there, but we just didn’t want to use assets to move ahead,” director of amateur scouting Stu MacGregor said Saturday. “We’d already used an asset on (defenceman Nikita) Nikitin and a (fifth-round) draft pick, so we really didn’t have an excess number of picks to move forward. So we just felt we would remain where we were and let the cards fall the way they would.”
A day after taking big German centre Leon Draisaitl third overall, the Oilers used the five picks they had in rounds four through seven to take defenceman William Lagesson (91st), goaltender Zachary Nagelvoort (111th), centre Liam Coughlin (130th), centre Tyler Vesel (153rd) and goaltender Keven Bouchard (183rd).
MacGregor said he had to fight to take the two goalies, especially after the Oilers just acquired prospect Laurent Brossoit this past season as part of the deal that sent defenceman Ladislav Smid to the Calgary Flames.
In Nagelvoort, the Oilers got a 20-year-old goaltender who MacGregor described as a “late developer” but one who will get good training at the University of Michigan. Bouchard, who expects to be Val D’Or’s starter next season, is a goalie MacGregor believes is willing to put in the work to improve.
“You want to look at kids that have potential,” he said.
“These guys have some potential, we feel, and if we can do it right and they can develop well, they’ll give us an opportunity to have some more depth than we have.”
Bouchard played one period at the Memorial Cup, and MacGregor also got to see him in Val D’Or. He’s looking forward to getting more playing time next season and make the most of it.
“I’m going to prove myself to the Oilers,” he said.
MacTavish was hoping the amateur scouting staff would be able to find some “impact players” on Day 2, despite a lack of second- and third-round picks. If these players become that, it’ll take time.
Draisaitl, on the other hand, has the size at six-foot-one and208 pounds to play in the NHL next season. But MacGregor cautioned that the team doesn’t want to press him into duty there if he’s not ready.
“He’s still a junior-aged player and he may need time and we’ll just give him that time that’s required for him to become the player and prospect we would hope he’d be,” said MacGregor, who added that Draisaitl will be given an opportunity to either play in front of or behind centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the future.
By taking Coughlin and Vesel, the Oilers added depth at a position they’re thin at beyond Nugent-Hopkins. Throw the six-foot-two defenceman Lagesson in, and Edmonton spent this draft bulking up.
“You’ve been telling us we need to be a little grittier and edgier, so we’re trying,” MacGregor said. “Obviously size isn’t everything but it’s a factor. The biggest thing is passion to play the game and want to get into battle.”
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