Let's face it, the Edmonton Oilers have been the laughing stock of the NHL Draft for years. The team has had several top 3 picks and has not been able to develop those players into superstars.
When you look at the trajectory of teams that were in similar positions before the Oilers it gets worse.
From 2002 through 2006, the Pittsburgh Penguins had one of the top five picks in the draft. During that time the team drafted (in order) Ryan Whitney, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Stall. That was the basis for a team that would win the 2009 Stanley Cup and become a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference for years.
During the same time that the Pens were rebuilding, the Chicago Blackhawks held a top seven draft selection from 2004-2007. The Hawks drafted (in order) Cam Barker, Jack Skille, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Barker and Skille were both traded to add pieces that would solidify the Blackhawks as one of the NHL's top teams as they hoisted Lord Stanley in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
Since 2010, the Oilers have selected in the top seven in each draft including four first overall selections. Yet, Edmonton stills flounders as the organization saw a complete overhaul this offseason.
So we are going to go back through the past 15 draft picks the Oilers had in the first round and decide who they ultimately should have selected.
There will be one major caveat; we will consider draft rankings at the time. So if a seventh round pick ended up being a perennial All-Star, do not expect to see him on the list. The picks will more closely associate with who could have realistically been selected with the pick at the time.
That being said, let us try to go back and fix the Edmonton Oilers.
Rules: Can't make crazy picks. If someone was selected in the 7th then they won’t be drafted in the first. Take their actual prospect rankings into consideration. Basic premise, pick needs to be within one round of pick.
15 2004: Cory Schneider
Original Pick: 14th overall - Devan Dubnyk
There is no doubt that Devan Dubnyk put on an absolute goaltending clinic this past season, but his career with the Edmonton Oilers was mired in mediocrity. Dubnyk spent five season with the Oilers and managed to amass a 61-76-21 record with a 2.88 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. However, Dubnyk will always be remembered as the guy who could not beat out Nikolai Khabibulin or Ilya Bryzgalov for the starting spot.
Though it has taken Dubnyk years to start to show his development, Cory Schneider has proven to be a consistent force in the nets for the last five years.
Schneider managed to split time with Roberto Luongo in Vancouver before becoming the most used goalie in the NHL with the Devils.
14 2004: Mike Green
Original Pick: 25th overall - Rob Schremp
With their second pick in the first round of 2004, the Oilers whiffed again. Rob Schermp clearly had some issues with his game coming into the NHL. Despite amassing 145 points in 57 games with the London Knights in his final year in junior, the New York-born Schremp plummeted down draftboards. Schremp ended up playing a combined seven games for the Oilers before being claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders in the 2009-10 season.
Four picks after the Oilers whiffed on Schremp, a far superior offensive piece was drafted in Mike Green. Though Green is the type of player that can make you pull your hair out if you are a fan of his team, he is also a stellar offensive defenseman.
13 2005: Paul Stastny
Original Pick: 25th overall - Andrew Cogliano
In the grand scheme of things, it is hard to knock the professional Andrew Cogliano has become. Since joining the Ducks in the 2011-12 season, he has 120 points and a +28 plus/minus rating.
However, his tenure with the Oilers was shaky to say the least. In the four years with the Oilers, Cogs was consistent but he reached his ceiling early and tantalized fans with the potential he would never reach.
Paul Stastny is the type of player that will go unnoticed by some, but will have a major impact on your team. The rare left-handed, playmaking center, Statnsy inherited an amazing hockey IQ and knack for the game from his father.
12 2007: Jakub Voracek
Original Pick; 6th overall - Sam Gagner
Sam Gagner conjures up images of false hope in Oil Country. When playing on the 'Kid Line,' Gagner tallied 49 points while being the youngest player in the league as a rookie. However, Gagner was mired in inefficient play on the ice. In his seven years in Edmonton, Gagner put 295 points on the scoresheet, which was respectable, but managed to have an awful -77 rating.
Just one pick after Ganger was selected, the Columbus Blue Jackets took Czech winger Jakub Vorachek.
During his career so far, which was been split between the Jackets and the Flyers, Voracek has proven to be one of the NHL's most consistent offensive scorers. In the past three seasons, Voracek has 189 points in 212 games.
11 2007: Max Pacioretty
Original Pick: 15th overall - Alex Plante
There is no need to be pretty about this; Alex Plante was a colossal bust. After being taken fifteenth (their second first rounder of the draft), way higher than he should have been taken, Plante would be limited by injuries.
Ironically enough, the only reason this lame duck player ever saw his 10 games in the NHL was due to injuries to better defensemen.
10 2007: P.K. Subban
Original Pick: 21st overall - Riley Nash
With their third first round pick of 2007, the Oilers found another way to absolutely flub the pick. Riley Nash has the impressive trait of never playing a single game for the team that drafted him, as Nash would have his rights traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a pick. At this point, Nash is a bottom-tier forward who a team will always be looking for an improvement on.
Instead the Oilers could have taken the flashiest D-man to enter the league in years.
P.K. Subban is the type of player you will hate, unless he is playing on your team. A player that is known for scoring as much as he is for pissing off opponents, Subban took home the Norris Trophy in 2013.
The last time an Oiler player did that was 1986, when Paul Coffey won his second consecutive Norris.
9 2008: Jordan Eberle
Original Pick: 22nd overall - Jordan Eberle
The 2008 draft was not especially deep. Only a few first round picks have actually made a sizable impact in the NHL and by the time the Oilers made their pick at 22, there was little to choose from looking back.
Jordan Eberle has managed to put up some pretty good numbers despite being a part of some mediocre Oilers teams. Eberle has put up 128 points in the past two seasons while only missing three games.
8 2009: Ryan O'Reilly
Original Pick: 10th overall - Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson
Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson has been a pretty big bust in the NHL. The Swedish winger was drafted with the hopes that he would grow as he aged, as he spent his teen years playing with adults in Sweden.
However, since Paajarvi-Svensson came to North America, he has been bullied around and has never developed into his physical frame. Paajarvi-Svensson managed to play 163 games with the Oilers while scoring a meager 58 points.
Almost a full round later, the Colorado Avalanche took Ryan O'Reilly. Despite having some off the ice issues in Denver, namely wanting to leave Denver, O'Reilly has developed into one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL.
7 2010: Taylor Hall
Original Pick: 1st overall - Taylor Hall
Just like it was in the 2010 Draft when the Oilers selected first overall, it's a tough choice between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. Hall though gets the pick here thanks to his leadership and determination.
Hall has been a points machine for the Edmonton on their top line. More than anything though, Hall has given the Oilers a locker room presence and leadership that this young team desperately needs.
6 2011: Gabriel Landeskog
Original Pick: 1st overall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been an effective player for the Oilers and does look like he will grow with the team moving forward. The biggest concern is his size, with Nugent-Hopkins being pushed off the puck fairly easily at the NHL level so far. Regardless, the diminutive Nugent-Hopkins has been consistent, scoring 52, 56 and 56 points during his full seasons with the Oilers.
Though Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog have had similar numbers offensively, it's the physical presence that separates the two-players. Landeskog, who is officially listed 25 lbs higher than Nugent-Hopkins, has shown the ability to score points by driving the net.
5 2011: Brandon Saad
Original Pick: 19th overall - Oscar Flefbom
The potential of Oscar Klefbom was too much for the Oilers to pass up. Though raw, Klefbom showed great size and natural offensive skills when he was drafted, but he has yet to show it at the NHL level.
Klefbom, who has only scored three goals in his first two seasons as an offesive defenseman, has been dealing with foot injuries that have hampered his play..
Our pick, Brandon Saad, has proven to be one of the key pieces to the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup team. He is a power forward that uses his strength and his scoring touch to wreak havoc in front of the net. Saad has amassed 42 goals and 57 assists over the past two seasons, which includes eight game winning goals in the regular season.
4 2012: Filip Forsberg
Original Pick: 1st overall - Nail Yakupov
There has been no more inefficient player in the NHL than Nail Yakupov over the last thre years. Through his three season with the Oilers, Yakupov has managed to score goals but has a plus/minus rating of -72.
Yakupov is simply an average goal-scorer with 42 goals over the past two seasons. His small frame has shown that he can be pushed off the play, but more than anything he looks terribly lazy. You watch this guy play and you wonder why the hell he decided to become a professional hockey player.
Filip Forsberg took a few seasons to make a splash in the NHL, only playing a combined 18 games in his first two seasons. However, last season, Forsberg scored 63 points over 82 games and made it to the All-Star game.
3 2013: Valeri Nichushkin
Original Pick: 7th overall - Darnell Nurse
Darnell Nurse brings the size and grit the Oilers desperately need in the backend. He was always going to be a year away, only appearing in two games with Edmonton last season, but he could develop into a primetime defensive player.
Valeri Nichushkin is a massive forward at 6'4" and 205 lbs, and has shown that he knows how to use it at the NHL level. In his rookie season, when he was at age 18, Nichushkin tallied 34 points with a +20 rating through 79 games. Though he suffered an injury that stopped his sophomore season after eight games, the sky is the limit for this Russian.
2 2014: Leon Draisaitl
Original Pick: 3rd overall - Leon Draisaitl
It is really hard to project how players are going to develop after a small stint in the NHL. Leon Draisaitl did not have an excellent first year with the Oilers, playing in 37 games with nine points.
1 2015: Connor McDavid
Original Pick: 1st overall - Connor McDavid
Though we have yet to see Connor McDavid in an NHL game, there is no doubt that this pick was a home run. McDavid is the top prospect to come along since Sidney Crosby in 2005. His foot speed and puck-handling skills are above any junior player we have seen in a decade. McDavid's hockey sense is unbelievable and watching him on the ice can legitimately give you chills.
McDavid's game translates well to both ends of the ice and he has shown a great ability to win faceoffs as well as one-on-one battles.
There is no way for the Oilers to mess this up; at least it looks that way. McDavid should be the crown jewel that restores the Oilers to their former greatness.
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