The NHL Entry Draft 2022 has come and gone. As always, it was an exciting couple of days with some huge trades and surprise risers and fallers in the draft selections. But I’m here to focus in on reviewing the 2022 Edmonton Oilers entry draft performance.
We knew the Oilers would be in a huge cap crunch moving forward. They only have seven forwards from last season under contract, having to re-sign Evander Kane, Kailer Yamamoto, and Jesse Puljujarvi, among others. And they needed to find a starting goalie. All with less than $10 million in cap space. A tough task.
So, the ultimate focus for the Oilers at the 2022 NHL Draft was barely about the prospects. Having only one pick in the first four rounds is proof enough. Edmonton’s focus was (and still is) trying to find ways to free up cap space.
They’ve actually managed to accomplish this and leave the draft with upwards of $22 million in cap space heading into free agency and the 2022-23 season. Realistically, that should be enough to fill the roster holes and re-sign the players who need contracts.
So let’s recap how the Edmonton Oilers got to where they are today with a 2022 Draft Review.
Day One of the 2022 Draft
Day one was mostly quiet for the Oilers. A few rumblings here and there, but all signs pointed toward Ken Holland and the Oilers using their first-round draft pick, at 29th overall, and not parting ways with it.
But following in the footsteps of the 2021 NHL Draft where the Oilers traded down at the last minute, Gary Bettman took the stage to announce a trade right before Edmonton would have been on the clock.
I must admit, I am very quickly running out of patience for Holland’s trades in his tenure with the Oilers. He always seems to give up a lot more to receive a lot less. Kassian’s contract is not excessive, he only makes $3.2 million for two more seasons. But somehow gives up two extra draft picks and trades down a few spots.
And on a team like the Coyotes, Kassian won’t even be an irrelevant player as he will likely fit in a regular lineup spot with their weaker depth chart. It seems like Holland got himself fleeced of a roster player after being forced to treat it like a cap dump when he may not have even had to if he was just making the trade as the player was no longer working with the team’s system.
Personally, I am also not a fan of the Oilers’ first-round selection. They took Reid Schaefer at 32nd. There were still some higher calibre players, like Jagger Firkus and Ryan Chesley, available, who had been predicted to go in the first round, as was displayed in the Overtime Heroics Mock First Round.
Schaefer is an older member of the draft class with relatively unimpressive numbers in the WHL. He has size, as he is 6”3’ and 213 pounds already and seems to be aiming to become a power forward in the mould of Josh Anderson. Given his age and size, it seems the Oilers are looking for someone who can jump into the NHL very quickly.
This is something the team can use to their advantage as he will be a cheaper option than a similar player type off of the free agent or trade market. But I can’t help but be left feeling that there was a ton of talent left on the board, especially as the Oilers (once again) were left with very few mid-round draft picks.
Day Two of the 2022 NHL Draft
It was a quiet second day for the Oilers. Duncan Keith announced he would be retiring, freeing up another $5.5 million in cap space for Edmonton next season. This will go a long way to finding a legit starting goalie for the team.
In terms of draft picks, the team was able to take the first few rounds off and didn’t pick again until the fifth round. Where they went way off the board and took goaltender Samuel Jonsson. He wasn’t really ranked by anyone, his stats the last couple of seasons playing on a U20 team in Sweden are somewhat unimpressive, and his main asset right now seems to be his size, as he is about 6”5’. The team needs goalie prospects though, and developing goalies is basically voodoo magic so with a later-round pick, why not take the chance on a guy the team likes?
In the sixth round, the Oilers drafted Russian defender Nikita Yevseyev. There isn’t much out there on him for reports, but he did drop quite a bit in scout rankings through the season, going down from 57th to 80th among European skaters. His style is described as highly physical.
With their last pick in the 2022 draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected Joel Maatta, a Finnish centre who has been playing in the United States for the past couple of seasons. He had a solid start to the World Juniors before the tournament was postponed, with three points in two games. He is regarded as a bigger, two-way centre whose defensive ability more than makes up for his lack of offence. A valuable skill set for a bottom-six forward and penalty killer, if he were to develop into an NHL player.
Edmonton Oilers Entry Draft 2022 Review
Overall, the Oilers accomplished what they needed to out of the 2022 draft. They did not have many picks and I have concerns about the long-term viability of their competitive window as they don’t replenish their prospect pool. But the outcome of the two days of the draft is that the team has plenty of cap space to work with in filling glaring roster holes and re-signing essential team members.
Who do you think the Oilers should have drafted in the first round? Drop a comment down below with your picks!
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