by Lisa Brown on 06/26/13 at 12:15 PM ET
Edmonton Oilers’ GM Craig MacTavish addressed the season ticket holders last week, speaking highly of draft eligible Darnell Nurse when asked. But perhaps the season ticket holders just weren’t asking the right questions. Tuesday, speaking with the media from the Oilers’ front office, MacT discussed what the team wants and of course needs. And what they intend to do with the 7th overall spot, is draft a centreman.
If a centreman is what the Oilers want, then their man is most likely Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67s. Monahan is an October birthday, one of the ``older`` players being selected at this year`s draft. Standing at 6`2`` and 187lbs Monahan is 2`` taller and approximately 15lbs heavier than the Oilers` youngest centreman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Initially, I thought that if the Oilers were keeping centreman Sam Gagner long term, that they would look to draft the defenceman, it makes sense. The Oilers have a lot of forwards, wingers more specifically, but if the Oilers are sticking with Gagner, is he necessarily destined to play centre?
Down the middle, currently, the Oilers are working with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff (but MacT has already said in a best case scenario the Oilers and Horc part ways), Eric Belanger (gone), Jerred Smithson (questionable, likely gone), Anton Lander (up and down from the AHL) and prospects in Ryan Martindale and Tyler Pitlick both of whom haven’t yet played their first NHL game. The Oilers do have another prospect who has been up and down in the AHL in Chris VandeVelde who is a UFA this year.
While the prospects aren’t dire, it is evident that the Oilers not only need to add more size and grit but also centremen who can play in the NHL and take top line minutes when the need arises.
Still, it’s hard to completely discount the idea of taking a highly touted, top rated defenceman, especially one from such a high performing sporting family like Darnell Nurse's. And especially if the right deal comes along.
Craig MacTavish is a man of both words and action, and I do trust in what MacT has to say when it comes to his intentions, but I still won’t be the slightest bit surprised if Darnell Nurse were available at #7 and the Oilers went for him.
As for Sam Gagner, MacT must see a lot more that I just don’t. Yes, Gagner is only 23. Yes, the Oilers have put a lot of time into developing him, but there are still come concerns from my end on his defensive liabilities and his compete level. But, being in the locker room is a whole other story and situation, and everyone seems to like Gagner from a personality standpoint. And we all know that that definitely stands for something, especially in today’s NHL world where teams will be looking to make some hard decisions in order to make it down to the cap ceiling.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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