It has become apparent to many Oilers fans that there is a glaring need for defencemen within the Oilers organization. Some have suggested that EDM might want to use their two 2nd round picks (31 and 48 OV) to shore up that area of need, or even trade up into another first round slot, maybe 10-15 OV. Myself, I'm opposed to that strategy for the Oilers, even though I agree that defence (and goal, I suppose) is the area most lacking depth in Edmonton's prospect pool. I don't think the Oilers should necessarily be targeting defenders with their 2nd round picks, or 1st round pick next year - in fact, I think they should continue to select forwards because I think drafting forwards, at this point, fits better with the "cluster" of upcoming talent in Edmonton's organization.
It's extremely likely that, by the time any D drafted in 2010 and 2011 are ready to be positive contributors to the top 4 of the Oilers, all EDM's top F prospects will be finished their ELC. I'm not necessarily one to jump on the bandwagon of "assemble your team in the mold of the current Stanley Cup winner/finalist", but given EDM's current organizational strengths and weaknesses, if they are planning to follow one of PHI or CHI's defence building strategies, I think it would make more sense to go the PHI route. Of the Flyers top 4 D, none were drafted by PHI. Coburn, Carle, and Pronger came via trade, as did Timonen (though he was a trade-and-sign just before July 1st as a pending UFA).
There is no real way for EDM to follow the CHI strategy, because Chicago's most significant drafted defencemen, Keith and Seabrook, were drafted 3 or 4 years before they drafted two of the key components in their top 6 forwards (Keith 02, Seabrook 03 vs. Toews 06, Kane 07), which allowed the forwards and the defence to mature at the same time. The Oilers aren't as likely to have that luxury, since players like McIlrath and Pysyk might not be positive contributors to the top 4 D for 4 or 5 years, by which time (hopefully) players like Hall, Paajarvi, and Eberle will cost much more than their combined cap hits for the next 3 seasons.
The advantage of continuing to draft forwards is that they, generally, arrive quicker than do defencemen, and I think that is somewhat important if Edmonton is going to try to compete at some point in the near future. They already have two of the top four defencemen they'll need to compete relatively soon, in Gilbert and Whitney. I think it would be easier to trade for the other defencemen they need, and continue to draft forwards, hoping that the forwards you draft now can fill F lineup spots earlier as necessary going forward. If the Oilers really want to use a 2nd round draft pick on a defenceman, it might make more sense to sign a guy like Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet at ~3.1 mil, and fill one of their D slots that way.