Tobias Enstrom anyone? Edmonton Oilers should have no trouble picking up a stopgap veteran defenceman …

Edmonton Oilers’ Mark Letestu (55) dives for the puck against Winnipeg Jets’ Toby Enstrom (39) during NHL action at Rexall Place in Edmonton on December 21, 2015.Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

Projected Vegas expansion draft picks (as much as that’s possible)

In trying to figure out what the Edmonton Oilers might be able to get out of the expansion draft, as opposed to put into it, the starting point is trying to figure out which players Vegas will draft.

This is a near impossible exercise. There are already rumours of various deals in place  with teams like Anaheim and Columbus, deals that will mean an obvious Vegas pick like excellent Josh Manson of the Ducks stays in Anaheim, even as he’s unprotected, and will also likely means that Vegas takes on the contract of injured and retired David Clarkson. It’s hard to imagine that Florida will say goodbye to 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault easily and maybe Winnipeg will find a way to keep ‘Tobias Enstrom in return for the favour of him waiving his No Movement Clause. Something is also apparently brewing that involves the Blackhawks taking Trevor van Riemsdyk.

We are left to guess on these matters.

Vegas has made it abundantly clear it’s in the market for such deals, as the team hopes to amass a huge number of top draft picks in coming years evidently.

With that in mind, I went through the lists of unprotected players and made my best guesses.

Here is my list of Vegas picks. My main criteria in making the pucks was how easily Vegas could move the player in a trade, either this summer or at the NHL trade deadline. As I’m reasonably sure of the Manson and Clarkson matters, my list reflects that.

Forwards: James Neal, Michael Grabner, Mikhail Grigorenko, William Carrier, Kerby Rychel, Jujhar Khaira, Brock Nelson, Jonathan Marchessault, Cedric Paquette, Brendan Gaunce, Alex Chiasson, Lee Stempniak, Alex Burmistrov, Jordan Weal, David Clarkson, and the already inked Russian attacker Vlad Shipaychov.

Defence: Tobias Enstrom, Matt Dumba, Brayden McNabb, Sami Vatanen, Marc Methot, Paul Markin, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Colin Miller, Brandon Davidson, Robert Bortuzzo Jamie Oleksiak, Jon Merrill.

Again, no one can be sure what players Vegas will take, and I’m not an expert on all the players in the NHL, but am basing these picks on a few basic determinators such as the players age, his time on ice last year, his contract and term. 

So what does this mean for the Oilers? I don’t see  Vegas as a good place to make a trade if you’re hoping to pick up a forward, but even if I’ve got a few things wrong here, one thing became obvious from this exercise: Vegas will be stocked with a number of good defenceman, both Top 4 types such as Enstrom, Matt Dumba and Sami Vatanen (if he also hasn’t somehow been protected by the Ducks) as well as depth d-men.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has indicated a willingness to see how his current group of d-men will grow, so I’m not expecting him to move for a Top 4 d-man, at least not one on a long term deal. But I do expect Chiarelli to try to pick up one or two veteran depth defenders, especially with Andrej Sekera likely out half the season or more as he recovers from major knee surgery. 

Vegas will be over-stocked with depth defenders on both sides of the ice, so Chiarelli should be able to acquire one from the Vegas stock. 

A return of Brandon Davidson anyone? How about Enstrom and his big $ 5.7 million per contract, which also happens to expire in one year, just when the Oilers would need it to expire? Marc Methot has two years on his deal so that’s less inviting. 

I suspect there are going to be a number of options to help the Oilers solve at least one problem this summer.

At the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: How things are shaping up for Oilers at expansion draft

STAPLES: Craig Button is right. Oilers shouldn’t go after a pricey veteran d-man, but should have faith in Nurse and Benning

STAPLES: Insiders keep saying that Oilers will get a cheap, lesser forward for Eberle

McCURDY: Revisiting the Oilers’ 50+ man roster on the eve of Transaction Season

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