You can expect the Edmonton Oilers to grab a forward or goaltender with their first round pick in Friday night’s NHL draft.
“I would say that we probably won’t draft a defenceman,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said on Thursday. “If there’s a defenceman high up on our board slides to 19, we’ll probably take him.
“But I think if things go the way we think they’re going to go, I see us probably taking a forward.”
Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Sebastian Cossa would also be of interest to the Oilers if he’s still available.
The Oilers have the 19th overall selection. Round two through seven of the draft will be held Saturday. Then it’s right into free agency on Wednesday.
Holland is left with another hole to fill after defenceman Adam Larsson went to the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday. While Holland will look for additions to the blue line over the summer, don’t expect a marquee name to wind up in Oilers colours.
“We won’t be big-game hunting on the back end if you’re talking an $8-million defenceman,” said Holland, who added he has to consider new contracts for Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear and Jesse Puljujarvi next summer.
“The big-game hunting is going to be term. It’s not only going to be big cap numbers, it’s going to be big term.”
The Oilers are interested in winger Zach Hyman, a pending unrestricted free agent who has 185 points in 345 career games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s possible the Oilers could trade for his rights prior to free agency, which would allow them to sign him to an eight-year contract instead of seven.
Holland added it’s unlikely he’ll make qualifying offers to restricted free agents Dominik Kahun and Jujhar Khaira.
“On the bottom part of the roster, forwards that were on one-year deals, I told many of them I won’t re-sign them.”
Holland confirmed that goaltender Mike Smith has been re-signed to a two-year contract. Smith, 39, went 21-6-2 with a .923 save percentage in 2021.
Full coverage of the NHL draft gets underway on 630 CHED Friday at 5 p.m. It continues Saturday at 10 a.m.
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