No team likes to miss the playoffs. Every season without a chance at a Stanley Cup championship is viewed as somewhat of a disappointment. But thanks to the NHL’s draft system, the worst teams in the league get the chance every year to add a player that may change the course of their franchise. Normally, the last place team gets the first overall pick, but the draft lottery allows other teams to have that chance as well. It doesn’t happen all that often, in fact the last time the 30th place team didn’t draft first was back in 2007. The Philadelphia Flyers finished last, but the Chicago Blackhawks won the lottery and chose Patrick Kane 1st overall. He went on to score the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Hawks in 2010.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, who had an abysmal season, were given the best chance to land the first overall pick, but the lottery balls didn’t fall their way this season. Instead, in a twist of fate, and most certainly luck, the Edmonton Oilers will get first crack at the prospects this summer. And there’s no shortage of talent at the top of the heap. The Oilers are no strangers to first overall picks. They selected Taylor Hall at number one in 2010, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first in 2011. This will be the third year in a row the same team has the first overall pick, only the second time in history that’s ever happened.
Although the Oilers haven’t been a very good team the past few seasons, they are on their way to building an absolute powerhouse in the years to come. Add Jordan Eberle, the team’s leading scorer this season, to the aforementioned players and this young team boasts some of the best offensive talent in the league. The consensus number one pick this year? Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting, a highly skilled forward expected to be an extraordinary player at the NHL level. The Oilers have a bevy of skilled forwards, so it isn’t necessarily a lock they’ll go with Yakupov. The team is weak on defense, and all possibilities must be considered in this case. It will be difficult, however, to bypass the runaway best player. Oilers GM Steve Tambellini didn’t rule out any options, which would be picking Yakupov, choosing someone else, or even trading the pick away. Tambellini said that right now, he’s looking forward to getting to know the potential candidates.
“I’m looking to know the top picks. Not only in what they do on the ice, but more importantly what really makes them tick. What makes them rally want to that person that’s the No. 1 pick overall,” said Tambellini on TSN. (Yahoo)
Oilers fans have watched their team suffer through some tough seasons, but are no doubt looking forward to what this group of talent can do in a few years time. Adding a supreme player like Yakupov is an exciting prospect. Now, the waiting and speculation begins. Who will the Oilers choose?
Marcy, a former hockey player, is a hockey correspondent on CTV News and TSN radio. She began her career as a Sports Journalist in 2009 and has been part of The Hockey Writers since 2010, where she is currently a senior writer and editor.