Death, Taxes and the Oilers getting a top draft pick. It’s a new season, but for the Oilers, it’s the same old scenario. Once again a disappointing season, but the potential to draft a franchise-altering player. The Oilers desperately need to improve their defensive core. Every draft though, there’s always been a forward that’s “too good to pass up”. Same story this year. The top prospects are all monsters in this draft and the top 3 picks are a virtual lock. Edmonton sits at number 4. After the big three of Mathews, Laine and Puljujarvi, Tkachuk is the clear-cut 4th best player in this draft. He’s a player that could go higher in other years and is only at 4 because of the supreme talent this year. He would no doubt be a big addition to the Oilers, but not the big addition they need. He’s a luxury for the Oilers, and has more value to another franchise.
The Oilers already had a stockpile of young high-end talent at the forward positions. Tkachuk would improve on Edmonton’s greatest strength. Not picking him however gives Edmonton a major opportunity to instead focus on their biggest weakness. This draft has 3 high-end defensive prospects in Juolevi, Sergachev or Chychrun, so Edmonton really has a few options here. The easiest thing to do is just to use the pick on a D-man instead. However, because there are a few good prospects at this position Edmonton can trade down and nab one of those D and get something else too. Edmonton can trade down a few picks with a team that is salivating over Tkachuk. This would allow them to grab a defenseman, plus additional assets.
Another option for the Oilers is to trade out of the first round all together. Trade the 4th pick for an established NHL defenseman. This would bring in a player who could help settle down the blue line and make an immediate impact. The appeal of this Edmonton would know what they’re getting. An NHL ready D who can help know rather than gambling on a prospect who could take a few years to develop.
The offense is stacked between McDavid, Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Driestal. The Oilers already have high end scoring. They can’t afford to draft Tkachuk and continue to lose games because their defense doesn’t play to the level of their competition.
Whichever way you look at it, the Oilers offense will be just fine without Tkachuk, but the team won’t be competitive without help on defense. The Oilers best bet is to trade the 4th overall pick and get the cornerstone defenseman they’ve lacked for years.