Author: Jason Brough

Craig MacTavish.

So…what do the Oilers do now?


The Edmonton Oilers have some major decisions to make.

None of those decisions will involve who they’ll draft first overall in June. After winning today’s lottery, they’ll take Connor McDavid. We’re 99.99999999 percent certain of that.

But things have definitely changed for the team with the longest active playoff drought, now nine seasons long. McDavid is ready to play in the NHL today. By all accounts, he’s ready to be a star, a la Sidney Crosby, who put up 102 points in his rookie season.

As Oilers GM Craig MacTavish put it, winning today’s lottery was “a game-changer” for his club.

Now, for the record, it’s been reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that MacTavish has informed forwards Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov that they will not be traded.

But one has to wonder, is that still the case? Because the Oilers weren’t counting on getting McDavid. They only entered the lottery with an 11.5 percent chance of winning. Chances were, they were going to get a player like Boston College d-man Noah Hanifin or Erie forward Dylan Strome. Two great prospects, sure. But not McDavid.

On top of Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov and (presumably) McDavid, Edmonton also has 19-year-old center Leon Draisaitl, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft.

That’s six top-six forwards, even if Draisaitl isn’t quite there yet.

It’s also three centers. Which begs the question, if MacTavish does hold true to his reported word and keeps Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Yakupov, could Draisaitl be an asset the Oilers would consider trading for defensive help?

Maybe, maybe not. But just so you know, here’s what MacTavish said a few days ago:

“Make no mistake, we have the assets to go out and acquire more proven players.”

And then he said this:

“Do I envision a scenario where a proven top one or two defenseman becomes available? Potentially. I think there are going to be some very unhappy teams here in the next couple of weeks. There are going to be teams that are up against a very tight salary cap, and that’s going to create an environment where they potentially could be looking to offload some high-end assets.

“We’d be in a position — because of the developing assets that we have — where we’d be able to acquire them.”

Anyway, it’s only been a few moments since the Oilers learned the good news. They’re going to need some time to think about what they want to do. The draft isn’t until June 26–27 in Sunrise, Florida.  

“We’re going to enjoy this for now,” MacTavish said today after the big win. “It’s a pretty special night for all the Oilers fans. It’s a game-changer for the franchise. I feel great for the players and I feel really good for the fans. We’ll enjoy that for an evening and then figure out how this all works going forward.”

If you’ve got any advice for MacT, please do share it in the comments section.

Sabres? Oilers? Coyotes? Leafs? ‘Canes? — McDavid would be happy to play for any of them

Erie Otters v London Knights

Based on the Q&A Connor McDavid did recently with the Toronto Sun, it doesn’t sound like we have to worry about an Eric Lindros-type situation at this summer’s draft.

McDavid, one of the most highly touted junior prospects of all time, was asked for his take on five possible future homes. He proceeded to call Buffalo “a special place,” Arizona “a fun opportunity,” Edmonton “an awesome place as well,” Toronto a potential “dream come true,” and Carolina “an awesome possibility.”

Those are, of course, the five teams with the best odds of winning Saturday’s lottery and drafting McDavid. And based on his answers, we assume he’s equally excited at the prospect of playing for any of the other nine teams with a chance.

I mean, obviously not Philadelphia, but any of the other ones for sure.

Just kidding, Flyers fans! He’d be happy to go there too. He’d be happy to go anywhere!

(But obviously not New Jersey.)


Related: NBC to air NHL Draft Lottery on April 18

While Mrazek shone, Bishop had a tough night

Ben Bishop, Valtteri Filppula, Victor Hedman, Luke Glendening

Funny how we went into the Tampa Bay-Detroit series with all eyes on the Red Wings’ goaltending situation. After Petr Mrazek starred in Game 1, those eyes have suddenly turned their focus to the man in the Lightning net.

Suffice to say, Thursday was not a banner night for Ben Bishop. The 28-year-old — the same one who’s been called the Lightning’s “rock” — stopped just 11 of 14 shots in his NHL playoff debut, as the Bolts fell by a score of 3-2 despite outshooting the Wings 46-14.

“The first one, I didn’t see,” explained Bishop, per the Tampa Tribune. “The second one, I didn’t see. The third one, I take a step out to cut down the angle, and he cuts back to the middle and I’m trying to get back in the net.”

It was that third one, by Detroit’s Luke Glendening, that Bishop probably wanted back the most…

But hey, it was only one game.

“I thought the guys did a great job,” said Bishop. “Their goalie played well. We just didn’t get the bounces tonight. … If we play like that, we’ll win more games than we’ll lose.”