by Lisa McRitchie on 04/13/12 at 11:30 PM ET
Winning the lottery is anything but a given; not for your retirement planning, to get that new television, house or even to escape your current boss. Even the NHL entry draft lottery can yield unexpected results and you don’t have to look any farther than this year to see the reaction of the Columbus Blue Jacket fans to see that. And so it surprised everyone when the Oilers won for the third time in as many years the first overall pick at this year’s entry draft. With the talent and forward depth that the Oilers have been accumulating talk immediately turned to trading that pick to get a defenceman but really that doesn’t make any sense at all. What other opportunities are the Oilers going to have to make that pick, first overall players are special and the team needs to make the playoffs next year.
Yes, the Oilers do need help on the blue line, but they have several other players that could be used a trade bait and they have an arsenal of defenceman that have been developing nicely already. Last year the Oilers essentially took two first round defencemen in Oscar Klefbom (19th) and David Musil (31st) and will have the 32nd pick this year.
While there is a large drop off for forwards between the first overall pick and the 19th, the difference isn’t usually as big when it comes to defencemen. And so, the Oilers can still take a defenceman this year without even giving up the first overall pick.
If the players drafted in previous years aren’t enough there are several good NHL defencemen that could be traded for with players currently on the Oilers roster or prospects. Then of course, there is the possibility of an RFA or UFA player. At this point the Oilers’ are anything but stuck.
Some gifts are ridiculous, something that will sit and gather dust on a garage shelf or sit in your drunk drawer until it’s forgotten about, but winning the lottery and drafting first overall is something you use and cherish.
Friday afternoon Jason Gregor of the Team 1260 spoke to President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe. The conversation begins at 25:30 of hour 1 and at 40:20 talk turns to the first overall pick. When Gregor asks “Realistically could someone give the Oilers a deal that they would really want, that would seriously make you think about it considering what offers have been in previous years?”
After GM Steve Tambellini suggested that anything is possible, and indicated that he would be open to offers for this pick Lowe came out with quite a different and more direct answer saying what most people would expect.
“No, I don’t. I really don’t” Lowe began. “But having said that, I do think that there is probably more appetite for teams that are in say, throwing out a number, the bottom 8 that are all around there, that might be intrigued by having the first overall pick and not a specific player I might add. But there definitely is a luxury in having the first overall draft pick; assuming he turns out to be a good player.
“You can market that a little bit, but it doesn’t carry on forever. It certainly adds some spin in your market place so that maybe there might be some motivation there or an organization has a feel about a particular player that they feel will be a difference maker and they might want to move up. My sense is that there may be a little more appetite for that this time around, but we really just won the pick a few days ago and it will likely be weeks or months for any concrete offers that I suppose will come to [Steve] Tambellini. I would be shocked that anyone would step up and offer what we feel would be good enough to have us not take that player.”
While Lowe is no longer the GM, he is still definitely one of the decision makers for the Oilers. As seen on Oil Change, decisions are made by committee with everyone in the room having a chance to say their peace and help weight out options. You also have to believe that Lowe who is also friends with the Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz has an opinion that carries a lot of weight in that room.
There is still the possibility that the Oilers’ could trade that first overall pick, but the price would be huge, or at least it should be. And if the Oilers’ traded that pick, the fans base would be split; there will always be at least one group that will be livid with the results.
Let the bidding begin, but the safe bet will be that the Oilers take the pick and enjoy having depth, something that certainly doesn’t seem to hurt a team like Pittsburgh.
There is still the chance that some of the personalities in the room may clash, but that could be said of any player and with every team. Now that the Oilers have the pick it does no good to think about the possible negatives, there’s been enough of that, now is the time to think of the positive outcomes from this situation. For most, that is playoff hockey and hopefully next year at that.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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