Edmonton Oilers win NHL Draft Lottery


BY IAN PALMER, Feedcrossing.com contributor

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t lived up to expectations on the ice the past few NHL seasons even though they’ve had the first overall draft pick the last two years. The Oilers will now get a chance to improve their team once again this summer as they will once again draft first overall due to winning the NHL’s draft lottery on Apr. 10.

The Columbus Blue Jackets finished the current regular season in 30th and last place in the league and had a 48 per cent chance to hang onto the number one pick overall.  However, the oilers, who finished in 29th place, had an 18.8 per cent chance at winning the lottery and hit the jackpot with it. Oilers’ general manager Steve Tambellini was obviously happy with his team’s stroke of luck and will be able to add another excellent top prospect to his roster or trade the pick for an established NHL player or two.

The Oilers already have some of the best players in the league, such as Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins thanks to the last two drafts as well as youngsters Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle. Tambellini said if you’re in the draft lottery and have to travel to Toronto you might as well win it. He added that the franchise and its fans are really excited about the outcome and the chance of adding another young star to the squad.

The draft takes place on June 22 in Pittsburgh and the Oilers are just the second club in NHL history to have the chance to draft first overall three years in a row. The only other team to have three consecutive top draft picks were the Quebec Nordiques who drafted first from 1989 to 1991. The Nordiques selected Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, and Eric Lindros with their picks and won the Stanley Cup five years later after relocating to Denver, where they became the Colorado Avalanche.

The Oilers finished last place in the league for two years in a row before moving up one place this season. But they haven’t improved much even though they’ve drafted first the past two years. The club has a hard time attracting quality free agents and trading for players and realize the draft may be their only hope of success as they need to develop their own players

The Blue Jackets were naturally disappointed at losing out on the top pick, but GM Scott Howson said he’s sure his club will get an excellent player with the number two pick. The Montreal Canadiens own the third pick with the New York Islanders choosing fourth and the Toronto Maple Leafs selecting fifth overall. Most NHL scouts have rated Russian forward Nail Yakupov as the best player in this year’s draft. Yakupov plays with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in Canada.
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