It certainly comes with dubious distinction, and one which the Edmonton Oilers will gladly lay claim to, if they’re granted the NHL Entry Draft’s first overall selection for the second consecutive year.
Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini will find out soon enough, as the NHL Entry Draft Lottery is being held tonight and broadcast live on TSN. Last year, Edmonton selected Taylor Hall with its first overall selection during draft proceedings held in L.A, a rookie stud who might have had a chance at winning the Calder Trophy (22 goals), were it not for an impromptu ankle injury sustained during his first career fight in the last third of the campaign.
This year, earning bragging rights for the second straight year as the NHL’s “cellar dwellars”, Tambellini has an opportunity to take centre stage once again, this time in Minnesota, who will host the 2011 entry draft on June 24.
The Oil have the best chance of landing the top overall pick with a 48.2 percent odds ratio, followed by the Colorado Avalanche (18.8 percent) and the Florida Panthers at (14.2 percent).
The Islanders (10.7 percent) and Senators (8.1 percent) are also in the running for the first overall selection.
If you buy into the theory that successful NHL franchises are built from the netminder out, then it may be prudent for Edmonton to select Swedish blueliner, Adam Larsson, recently tagged as the top-ranked European skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, in its final rankings this week.
The Oil are in desperate need of a top-two defensive stud, and Larsson, by all accounts, is the next great Swedish D-man to come out of that country since Nicolas Lidstrom.
High praise for the young smooth-skating European prospect.
Edmonton is also lean up the middle, and could very well look to select a large centre with its second first-round choice (L.A.’s pick shipped to E-town in Dustin Penner deal). Sean Couturier, of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, a big centre whose value recently dropped to sixth overall in the CS rankings, might be still be available should the Oil value another centre, or be willing to trade up to get him.
Prince Albert Raiders centre, Mark McNeill, has also reportedly caught the eye of Steve Tambellini. Currently holding down the CS Bureau’s 14th overall NA ranking, the 6″2″, 210-pound centre had a banner campaign, contributing 81 points (32-49) with a +/- Rating of -4.
Red Deer Rebels’ centre, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, earned the number-one NA ranking. A team in need of some beef up the middle, the Oilers may elect to pass on the 6 foot, 155-pound WHL star.
In the meantime Oiler fans, chins up, sticks down.
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.