Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli was at the MasterCard Memorial Cup on Monday, taking in the action between the London Knights and Brandon Wheat Kings.
During the second intermission, he stopped by Sportsnet’s panel of Jeff Marek, Todd Warriner and Damien Cox where he was asked about his plans for his team’s first pick (fourth overall) at the upcoming NHL Draft.
“I’m looking at all options. We’ve got to improve now but there’s some pretty good future players out here and elsewhere,” said Chiarelli. “There’s a lot of chatter going on right now and we’ve got a month and a half to go, so we’ll see what happens, but I have to listen to everything.”
The Oilers have drafted in the top three in five of the last six years. The team will be moving into a new building for 2016-17 — Rogers Place — and with a promising young core already in place, the possibility is there for Edmonton to trade their first round pick this year for more immediate help.
“Would I look to move it? We want to win. I took the job in Edmonton to win, so as I said earlier, we’ll look at all options,” said Chiarelli. “There’s some pretty good players that are going to be available at four but we may look to move down and still use a pick to get an asset as part of a larger deal.
“We owe it to the fans to get better in a relatively short period of time and we’re going to look at all options to allow us to do that.”
While there is no generational prospect like Connor McDavid from this year’s crop, there is still plenty of plenty of talent to choose from come June. The Knights, who went on to hammer the Wheat Kings by a 9-1 score have a couple of players that could conceivably be picked fourth overall.
London’s Matthew Tkachuk was ranked fourth in Sportsnet’s final prospect rankings, but his teammate, defenceman Olli Juolevi, could provide a big boost to an Oilers blue line that’s been lacking. Juolevi has seen his stock rise since winning gold with Finland at the 2016 world junior championship.
“He had the terrific world junior, real good, played very well, [and] complimented some really high-end offensive players there,” said Chiarelli. “Very efficient play, we’re looking at him very closely, he’s very smart, you have to be a very smart, cerebral type of defenceman to succeed in the NHL, he’s got that.”
“(Tkachuk)’s a pretty good player so we’re looking at him too.”
Chiarelli also gave his thoughts on what his scouts are saying about the 2016 draft class in general. Edmonton currently holds five picks in the first three rounds.
“Well, every year I hear a number of different characterizations, ‘It’s going to be a strong year, next year it’s going to be a weak year,’ and the year changes within the year,” said the Oilers GM. “We’ve been paying particularly close attention higher up in the first round this year, I think it’s pretty deep.
“We’ve heard of dividing lines after three, after 12, I think it’s pretty deep. We got the 32nd pick I think we’re going to get a pretty good player at 32 also. I think there’s a line after [pick No.] 3, but after that I think it’s pretty deep still.”