by Lisa McRitchie on 06/22/12 at 03:00 AM ET
One day before he steps up to the draft podium to make his announcement, Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini is mum on what that decision is. But by looking at the past two drafts and by really listening to what Tambellini has to say, you can make a decision for yourself. For me, in a crowded hotel lobby in downtown Pittsburgh, Tambellini was saying the ‘pick is Yakupov, but I can’t just tell you that.’
Of course Tambellini has received calls about the first overall draft pick, but again as with the two previous years, it hasn’t been an offer substantial enough to consider moving the pick. In fact when Tambellini addressed the question, it sounds as though the decision making team hasn’t even had to think twice about drafting when it comes to any offers he has fielded. “Obviously [the offers are] not good enough to make me really think about discussing with our staff and it may not come to that, and I’m completely comfortable with that.
Tambellini has no choice but to say that he would consider moving the pick, but the Oilers have needs in nearly every position given their current roster. And so the response was as expected from Tambellini “Only if we thought that either the potential or the current assessment was equal.”
“It’s obvious talent but the character and the intangibles that we feel are so important to bring a franchise like we’re positioned right now where we’ve acquired that we need a few more pieces to push us over that phase into the next phase where we can be a powerful group.”
But what everyone wants to know, is who will the pick be? Smiling and calm, Tambellini shot down every question concerning a name but admitted that there is a real sense of excitement over this name; exactly what happened with the case of Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
“I think that there is more of an excitement over what we are going to bring into the organization rather than pressure. You’re always pushing people, pushing your staff to dig in deep and make sure that at the very end of the day you’ve exhausted every type of situation possible from a pro scouting point, from an amateur scouting point as far as their character and what makes them tick; why are they in this position, why are they ranked so high in the world as far as the national league draft. You want to find out about their support group and what motivates them, all of those kinds of questions so at the end of the day I would say it’s more excitement.”
The closest Tambellini would get to a name, may have been close enough. Tambellini would go so far as to say that “Our scouting staff has been very consistent from the halfway meetings to the meetings in the springtime until the last couple of days here. A few things have moved around as always but big picture the consensus hasn’t changed that much.”
And for those who have been paying close attention at home, across the board most scouts have had Nail Yakupov as the number one draft prospect this past season. Sure there was a time when his stocks fell, but most lists have said that Yakupov was the first pick and why would the Oilers’ team be any different?
I’ve wondered how 3 first overall picks might get along in the locker room and so given my chance, I had to ask Tambellini. But his response didn’t really satisfy my curiosity:
“I think it’s just more you want to understand how this player got there. To achieve that type of status in a NHL draft there is a lot of work, sacrifice and commitment, it’s not just talent. It’s usually a support group that is with them whether it’s family or mentorship or coaching. You just want to find out as much about them as you know how he needs to be responded to, so you know what the coaching staff can look for as far as traits, how do we motivate, how do we really connect with this person.”
It seems though with the Oilers organization that they don’t see that confidence and that competitive edge that might help a player get to the first overall pick as any kind of arrogance. Instead they see it as leadership.
“There’s no question how they interact with their teammates, their leadership qualities, it’s a huge component of what you look for in young men that are coming to your organization. You can’t have enough leadership, championship organizations have such an abundance of leadership and that’s what we’re trying to build.”
Although the Oilers are still missing a few pieces, they have been working towards building a championship team and another first overall player should help them get there with time. Should they keep the pick of course.
There is no way to know for sure what name Tambellini plans to announce, but the signs were there today. As you know, the past two years the amateur scouting staff have selected the best player available and Tambellini would only say that his team has been fairly consistent with their selection. That just might say everything right there.
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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.
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