Last season, when the NHL was abuzz with the Taylor vs Tyler debate, there was no consensus number one draft choice as both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin possessed a high level of skill. The Edmonton Oilers finally decided to take Taylor Hall number one overall for his scoring ability. This year, however, the Oilers find themselves in a similar position with the number one pick, but this time around, it may come down to needs over wants.
The general consensus for most hockey pundits is that forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the WHL is the best talent overall and ranks tops amongst most draft lists thanks to his supreme play-making abilities, his willingness to battle for the puck and his outstanding defensive capabilities.
The Oilers opt may go a different route, however, and leave Nugent-Hopkins on the board for the number two team to grab. Instead, the Oilers may select a defenseman, the massive Adam Larsson from the Swedish Elite League. Larsson possesses a big frame at 6-foot-3 and over 200 pounds, but he has also been hailed as a highly-intelligent puck-moving defenseman with comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom abound. The Oilers need a top defenseman and Larsson appears to be a player they could build their blue line around for years to come.
As a team in full on rebuilding mode, the Oilers have some tough decisions before the first round of the NHL Draft tonight. If the Oilers decide to nab Nugent-Hopkins, they could potentially be getting a solid two-way player whose play-making abilities would complement the goal-scoring abilities of Taylor Hall and could create a fearsome duo up front for the Oilers. With good defensive talent available via free agency this summer, the Oilers very well may opt to go this route. But Larsson could be a franchise defender, a player that the team can build around on the blue line and one that could pay immediate dividends in the NHL after three years in the Swedish Elite League.
Either way, the Oilers are guaranteed to get a top-notch player capable of helping their cause. They have a young team bursting with talent with players such as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson up front for the squad. Either Nugent-Hopkins or Larsson would fit right in and pay immediate dividends for the Oilers.
The first round of the NHL Entry Draft will take place tonight at 7 p.m. Round two through seven will take place Saturday afternoon. For a great NHL Draft preview, check out NBC’s first round mock draft that offers great information on all of the potential selections at tonight’s draft.