by PuckStopsHere on 04/12/12 at 12:10 AM ET
For the third year in a row the Edmonton Oilers will have first pick in the NHL Entry Draft. After two years finishing in last place in the league and selecting Taylor Hall first overall in 2010 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall in 2011, they finished in second last place and won the draft lottery. Likely this means Edmonton will select Nail Yakupov in June. This is a significant addition to an already very good young core. Add in Jordan Eberle and Edmonton could have the best group of offensive forwards in the league in a few years if all turns out.
It will be hard for the Oilers to not be contenders with that group to build around. Nevertheless they will still need to find some good defencemen and goaltenders, as the Oilers are lacking in both positions.
I have little faith in Oiler management, the Oilers have been the worst team in the league under the expiring CBA and it appears the architects of that failure in Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe will all be around next year. It will be an interesting test to see how good a young core can get with incompetent management. Will the Oilers manage to win a Stanley Cup with this core or will they fall short? How short might they fall? If they succeed how much credit will management get? Will the media begin to view Tambellini and Lowe as good managers if they are still around when this happens?
The Columbus Blue Jackets are the losers here. With second pick they will likely draft Mikhail Grigorenko. He likely is a very good player as well, though Yakupov has a bigger upside. It will be harder for Columbus to market their rebuild as they likely part ways with Rick Nash and do not have first pick in the NHL Entry Draft.
It will be years before we can know for sure if Nail Yakupov or Mikhail Grigorenko or if somebody else turns out to be the biggest talent in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Right now it looks like some lottery luck for the Edmonton Oilers allows them to get the best prospect at this point in Yakupov. That is a big step that will further build the Oilers young core. The question I have if whether the management that has run the team so poorly in the past several years can succeed even with this run of first overall draft picks.
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