So Which Oilers Should You Take in Your NHL Draft?

It is that time of year. Preseason is coming to a close, friends and co-workers are getting together to make their draft picks and for some of us, a few Edmonton Oilers will be thrown into our selections. So if you're going to take an Oiler, who do you take?

It is very likely based on the rules of your particular draft, that none of the current Edmonton Oiler roster will go in your top 10. For that matter likely not in your top 20. Your Ovechkin's, Crosby's and Malkin's will obviously take top billing, but there are at least 20 other players I can name that should produce more points than any Oiler if your going almost solely on assists and goals. If you're one of those poolies that has to take your home team, wait for a while; a few of them will still be available later in your draft.

If and when you get to that point in the draft, the obvious number one pick should be Ales Hemsky. This probably isn't news to most of you. Hemsky has had a slow preseason, but this last game he came on strong and showed that maybe he's one of those guys whose not eager to burn out his jets in preseason. You can count on him missing about 5-10 games with some kind of minor injury each year and that always hurts his final numbers; but for the most part he'll get you 65-70 points if he's healthy for any major length of time.

Zack Stortini -- If it's not only scoring that counts, keep your eye's on a couple Oiler players - one being Zack Stortini. He's reliable in the PIM's department and should net you about 150-190 PIM's a year. My gut tells me he'll also have a much better offensive season and should get around 10 goals and 15 assists. Could be a lethal combo just behind guys like Lucic, Carcillo and Steve Ott, so if you need a PIM's guy and he's around, he's a safe choice.

Sheldon Souray -- Someone who should also help there but a good pick if you need a defenceman might be Sheldon Souray. He's not ranked in my Top 10 in terms of offensive production, but if you combine it with his ability to pound a couple guys into the ground and his willingness to do so, he could net you some valueable PIM's points along side the 20 goals he seems good for each year. This is especially important if you take into consideration power play goals since as always, he'll get first line powerplay time to take that bullet of a shot.

Other Oiler notables:

Mike Comrie -- I don't expect him to keep up this pace, but Quinn is using him on the powerplay and he's my sleeper pick this year. He had 10 points in 5 preseason games (I know, I know)..., but he's playing for another contract, even if it's with the Oilers. For players like Comrie, Tanguay, Sykora and others, that always means something. He'll get lots of opporunity to score in Edmonton and I expect a possible 50 point season from the smaller but skilled veteran.

Patrick O'Sullivan -- Expect him to get 20 goals this season with his eyes closed. He shoots that often. He had some great chemistry with Comrie and he's focused on having a rebound year. He's not necessarily a top 50 pick, but could be close and if you get closer to the 75 player mark and he's still around, he's worth taking. He'll play on the powerplay and short handed which is a good combo if those types of stats count.

JF Jacques -- You might be tempted to take him if a) you're an Oiler fan and you take a lot of Oilers in your pool or b) you watched a lot of preason. My suggestion is not to jump the gun. He's not a lock on the first line and if he doesn't play there, he won't do much for you. If he does play there, he still may not do much... at least not consistently. It's hard to tell where Jacques will go in terms of production this season and for that reason he's too risky a pick. Unless he's one of your final picks in a deep draft, there are better players out there.

Tom Gilbert -- I have a feeling he'll produce more offensively than people are giving him credit for. He's easily a top 20 defenseman in a pool if you need scoring and you need a defenceman. He's got that look this season like he's prepared to get closer to the 13 goals he had his first year vs the 5 he potted last season. He's the king of second assists too if assists count in your draft and he should get lots of powerplay time.

Shawn Horcoff -- If his stats tell us anything, this is one of those years Horcoff plays well. He seems to have one good year, one ok, one good, one ok... The problem is, that this year, unless he's given some help in the faceoff dot and/or defensively, he may have trouble also putting up points. He may not stick as your top line centre either and if that's the case, his offensive production would drop off the face of the earth. Take Horcoff at great risk and consideration.

Sam Gagner - Something tells me this will be another year that Gagner has a slow start. If preseason says anything, he's slated to start on the 3rd line and he'll have to earn his way up. That doesn't bode well for anything but possibly getting Gagner at a better contract when the season ends. I see a 40 point season, but no better this year.

Andrew Cogliano - Similar to Gagner, Cogliano should have a similar, possibly slightly better year than last. Where he may be a bonus is if you count short-handed goals. I'm willing to bet Cogliano leads the team in short-handed goals this year. His speed alone warrants he play that role and he could get you some extra points with that in mind.

What Not To Do:

Dont' use an Oiler if you have to take a goaltender. Neither of the Oilers duo will get you many shut-outs this year, and I think it's still a big question mark for Edmonton. I can imagine the Oilers not winning many games 2-1 or 3-2, but losing or winning in high scoring affairs. That's never good if you need a goalie.

Don't bust your early picks just so you can get Hemsky. This is a note to all the die-hard Oiler fans who just have to take an Oiler with their first pick. Hemsky will be around at least two rounds in most pools. Be patient and he'll still be there.

Good luck and feel free to leave your choices in the comments below. I'll be making my selections on Tuesday.


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