Once again, the Edmonton Oilers are in the running for the top overall draft pick. As of March 24th, 2016, the team has the second fewest points in the league, but four games in hand on the team in front of them (Toronto Maple Leafs). It is truly remarkable that the Oilers have continued their losing ways, considering all of the talent they have been able to acquire in the draft over the last six years.
Edmonton has been lucky enough to select first overall in the draft in four out of the last six years, and picking third once as well. All five of those top 3 picks have been forwards, giving the team a strong, young offensive base, but leaving other positions bare. Last year’s top overall pick, Connor McDavid, looks like a true star in the league but the rest of the team needs to work to climb out of the cellar.
Pending Free Agents: The highest paid unrestricted free agent is Defenseman Nikita Nikitin, currently making $4.5 Million in 2015-2016. He has struggled to stay with the pro club, playing only 11 games this season, and will almost assuredly not be re-signed. Eric Gryba, a defensive defenseman, played relatively well this season before injury and may be re-signed, depending on the cost.
One interesting restricted free agent is forward Zack Kassian. Since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens, he has managed just 8 points in 29 games. While that may seem like nothing, he is just 25 years old and has shown some ability to score and play tough in previous seasons. The likelihood of him staying with the club will likely depend on his qualifying offer.
Draft Picks: There is a good chance the Oilers will fall into a top 2 pick once again this year. The top prospect in the draft is Auston Matthews, a forward. The main question will be if the team has room for another top level forward or would look to possibly trade back and grab a defenseman. The top defenseman prospect this year is Jacob Chychrun, an offensively talented blue liner that could likely make the squad very soon.
Free Agent Additions: While Cam Talbot has played admirably in goal, the team may look to make a change. The problem will be finding a suitable replacement as the top available goalies in a very thin market are Cam Ward and Jonas Hiller that are both over 30.
Should the team decide to add a veteran defender, Keith Yandle and Kris Russell should both be available if the team is willing to pay.