“Out of respect for the players,” Craig MacTavish wouldn’t commit to drafting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel with this summer’s first overall pick.
But the Oilers’ GM kind of showed his hand today on Edmonton’s AM 630 radio when he said, “We arguably have the three best players in the CHL right now.”
One of those three would be center Leon Draisaitl, the third overall pick in last year’s draft.
Another would be defenseman Darnell Nurse, the seventh overall pick in 2013.
And the third would be “the player we pick” in June — which would have to mean McDavid, since Jack Eichel doesn’t play in the CHL. He’s a college guy.
Whatever, nobody thought the Oilers would pick Eichel anyway.
In reality, what will be far more interesting than who the Oilers pick first overall (it’ll be McDavid, you can count on it) is what they’ll do with the first-round pick they acquired from Pittsburgh in the David Perron trade, not to mention all the picks they have beyond the first round.
Because MacTavish isn’t counting on McDavid to turn the Oilers around alone. He knows there are still “critical positions” (plural) that need to be “improved upon”, and the GM says he’s “more inclined to use draft picks” to do it.
“We’ve got to make a few key personnel changes and improvements, and I think that could ignite it quickly,” said MacTavish.
Case in point, the goaltending needs to be fixed. The Oilers thought they’d done that a year ago with Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth; alas, they had not.
Edmonton’s blue line also needs upgrading. (Which could, in turn, make the goaltenders look better.)
And let’s not forget the potential changes to the front office, though those won’t be MacTavish’s responsibility to make.
At any rate, MacTavish promised a “very busy summer” in Edmonton. It doesn’t sound like winning the lottery will change that.
Related: So…what do the Oilers do now?