It’s often said that a team’s quality and prospect pool share an inverse relationship, and that is certainly true of the Edmonton Oilers and their 31st-ranked system.
So it should be. This is a team with the best player in hockey, coupled with a running mate who’s not all that far behind himself, and both of them are on about as team-friendly a set of contracts as you’re likely to find in all the NHL.
When you have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl laying waste to the NHL in the thick of their prime, the future is now. Specifically, the two-year window before Draisaitl and budding star defenceman Evan Bouchard are up for new contracts. McDavid’s due for an extension of his own only one year later, too.
So, no, late first-round picks and B-grade prospects don’t serve the immediate needs of this franchise.
However, how long that window stays open is up to their amateur scouting department. As the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals before them have shown, regularly injecting cost-controlled young talent can allow you to extend a window as your stars age out of their prime and their contracts become less efficient accordingly.
There aren’t any stars in the Oilers’ system, but there just may be a few players up to that task. It’s a system with a fair bit of depth and a couple of players with serious home run potential occupying the middle part of their ranking.
So, let’s see what they’ve got.