The last time a team that finished 30th overall in the standings, but didn’t get the number one pick was back in 2007, when the Philadelphia Flyers lost out. The Chicago Blackhawks moved up to the first slot to select Patrick Kane. The time before that was much more notable, back in 2004. The Pittsburgh Penguins finished last, but lost the draft lottery to the Washington Capitals. The Caps used that pick to select Alexander Ovechkin. Don’t feel bad for the Penguins though, they got Conn Smythe winner Evgeni Malkin at number two, and some guy named Sidney Crosby the following year first overall. There was a little bit of drama in this season’s lottery, as the New Jersey Devils moved up to the number four slot, and most notably the Ottawa Senators dropped down to 6th. As for the first overall pick? No surprises there, it officially belongs to the Edmonton Oilers.
It was a familiar position for Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, as he watched the lottery balls go in his favor last season as well. The Oilers selected Taylor Hall with the first overall pick in 2010. He scored 22 goals this season before going down with injury. Tambellini had this to say after the lottery result:
“Winning this first overall pick is an important moment for the organization and it’s an integral part of the process moving forward. This is a very exciting time for our organization and our fans as this just adds to the already bright future of our team.” (TSN)
Unlike the past few seasons, there isn’t one or even two clear cut prospects for the number one slot. This draft might be an opportunity for the Oilers to draft according to their needs, and that might be an upgrade on defense. The final prospect rankings has Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the top rated player. The Red Deer Rebel is a centerman, who can score as well as make plays, something the Oilers could obviously use. The top rated defenseman is Sweden’s Adam Larsson. Larsson is a promising offensive defenseman, and considering the Oilers trouble scoring from the back-end, he might be a good choice. Left winger Gabriel Landeskog and centerman Jonathan Huberdeau are also expected to go high. Drummondville’s Sean Couturier slipped a few spots in the rankings, but was rated the 2nd best prospect a few months ago.
Scouts say there isn’t a Crosby or Ovechkin in this years draft, but rather a plethora of solid, skilled players who can certainly help an NHL team in the future. Edmonton has an opportunity to add another important piece to the puzzle of their rebuild, and if the team can stay healthy, this might be the last time the Oilers get that number one pick for a long time. At least the fans sure hope so.