After dominating the first round of All-Star Game balloting, Toronto Blue Jays finalists will not be starting the 2023 Midsummer Classic in Seattle after Phase 2 of voting closed Thursday afternoon. EDMONTON — There was a time when the NHL Draft was the biggest day on the Edmonton Oiler’s schedule. That it has become a window to nip and tuck, to clean up around the edges of a Stanley Cup contending roster ahead of free agency, speaks to progress. Gone are the days when the Oilers are trading for discards from the big boys, the way Detroit took Kailer Yamamoto and Klim Kostin off of Edmonton’s hands on Thursday, as general manager Ken Holland dealt two players away that he simply did not wish to afford any longer. For zero return, we might add, other than $3.1 million of extra cap space. Now, Holland will head to free agency with likely enough money to scratch a couple of the itches that remain. It’s easy for him — and us — to move on, of course. But how about Yamamoto, a first-round draft pick in 2017 who played his first 244 NHL games with this organization? Like a game of Snakes and Ladders, he goes from a team that is within spitting distance of the Stanley Cup to Detroit, where the Red Wings finished 24th last season and are reminiscent of the team Yamamoto joined in Edmonton in 2018-19. Detroit is on the come, but are likely three more seasons away from where the Oilers are today. Maybe four. Why didn’t it work out in Edmonton for Yamamoto? “Well, if the cap was $86 or $87 (million), I think it would have worked out. It’s just, the cap never moves,” said Holland. “(Stuart) Skinner’s due a raise, (Ryan) McLeod’s due a raise, (Evan) Bouchard’s due a raise, we made a deal for (Mattias) Ekholm at the deadline… So there’s got to be (sacrifice).” Alas, Yamamoto was that sacrifice, a favourite in the room who just could not make himself as valuable as his AAV was costly. In the end, that old chestnut “big and good beats small and good almost every time” holds true here. At five-foot-eight, 155 pounds, Yamamoto has a heart bigger than some six-foot-four players, able to go into a corner and win a puck against men who are 35 pounds bigger than him. But that style has led to injury. And in a career spent mostly on the wing of superstar centre Leon Draisaitl, Yamamoto’s career average of 40 points dwindled in the post-season — mostly because of the way the game is played in April, May and June. A player who scored once every five games in the regular season scored once every 10 games in the post-season. In short, we’re not sure Yamamoto is productive enough to be as small as he is. He can help a Red Wings team on the rise, sure. But when you get near the top and it’s time to trim some fat, Yamamoto became the guy that drew Holland’s eye, surpassed on the organizational ladder by McLeod, Bouchard, Skinner and others. As for Kostin, he was a luxury the Oilers simply could not afford to keep. In Edmonton, Kostin is a fourth-line player. As such, he can not be paid more than about $1 million. His agent had been negotiating with Avangard Omsk of the KHL, where he could receive a sum that would approach what the Oilers would pay — but with the tax differences, his take-home would be far better. Holland traded a player that he knew he could not sign, alongside a salary he wanted to dump. That he got nothing in return is fine — he did not have to attach an asset he coveted to make the deal happen. Kostin is big, skates well, hits, fights, and scored 11 goals in 57 games for Edmonton last year, plus three more in the playoffs. He was due a raise that Edmonton could not afford to hand out. In Detroit, Kostin is a third-line player, and as such, can command a salary in excess of what the KHL can pay. This is the natural order in a cap system, and no fault of Holland, who made a slick trade to acquire Kostin last season. ••• Edmonton chose defenceman Beau Akey with their highest pick, No. 56 overall. Akey comes from the Barrie Colts in the OHL, skates well, and has a chance to help as a puck-moving, right-shot defenceman. In Round 6 they picked Grimsby, Ont. goalie Nathaniel Day out of Flint in the OHL, a six-foot-two, 180-pounder who stole the starter’s job during the Firebirds’ playoff run last spring. In Round 7 they landed 20-year-old long shot Matt Copponi, who came on at Merrimack College last season. He’s small — five-foot-11, 167 pounds — but feisty, and will get an AHL shot when his college days are done. More from Sportsnet Winners and losers from the first round of the NHL Draft NHL Draft Tracker: A look at all of the picks

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