NHL Draft Lottery: Edmonton Wins 3rd Straight As Columbus Loses Out Again

The Edmonton Oilers will select first in the 2012 NHL Entry draft for the third straight year, the first team to do so since the Quebec Nordiques did in the late from 1989-91, where they selected Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan and Eric Lindros.

This was anther blow to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who just can’t buy a break.

Nail Yakupov is expected to be the first player drafted. Will Edmonton take him, or will they trade the pick? (Photo by Resolute (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons)

After finishing this season last in the league, their only solace was the fact that they would have the best chance at securing the first overall pick the the 2012 NHL entry draft, but apparently they can’t even win that.

It was basically a coin flip for the Jackets, who had a 48.2% chance of securing that coveted and much-needed top pick. However, the Edmonton Oilers rained on their parade and took the top spot despite entering with less than a 1 in 5 shot at wining the lottery.

The Oilers were the second most likely team to secure that top pick at 18.8%. Over the past two years they’ve selected winger Taylor Hall and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, respectively, two highly skilled forwards that cracked the NHL roster while they were still 18 years of age.

Now the Oilers hold all the cards and have the option to draft projected first overall pick Nail Yakupov, a Russian junior who is playing in Canada for the Sarnia Sting, or trade the pick for a piece that they desperately need, like a top defenseman.

Edmonton is loaded up front. Aside from the two players already mentioned, they have: a highly-skilled center in Jordan Eberle, who had 76 points (34G, 42A) in 78 games and is only 21 years old; Ales Hemsky, fresh off a contract renewal of two years at $5 million per; and Sam Gagner, who had somewhat of a breakout year capped off by an eight-point performance in a single game.

Edmonton really doesn’t need another skilled forward whose strengths mimic the players they already have in the organization. A lot of other teams do need a player like Yakupov, however, and they will pay a handsome price for his services. Depending on what offers come in, the Oilers would be much better off acquiring a player and a lower pick in exchange for the first overall selection.

With a plethora of skilled D-men eligible for this year’s draft, it wouldn’t be surprising at all for Oilers GM Steve Tambellini to pass on the skilled winger and instead look at Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly or Matt Dumba to fill the void on their blue-line. All four of these defensemen are projected to be drafted in the top-10

The rest of the draft lottery fell into place as expected. Here’s a list of where the bottom 14 teams in the league will be picking on June 22nd at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh:

1) Edmonton Oilers

2) Columbus Blue Jackets

3) Montreal Canadiens

4) New York Islanders

5) Toronto Maple Leafs

6) Anaheim Ducks

7) Minnesota Wild

8) Carolina Hurricanes

9) Winnipeg Jets

10) Tampa Bay Lightning

11) Washington Capitals (from Colorado)

12) Buffalo Sabres

13) Dallas Stars

14) Calgary Flames

** The remaining playoff teams will have their draft position set based on where they finish in the second season.

It was a great day for the Edmonton Oilers organization, who appear to be a few pieces away from being a legitimate contender. When you look at some previous teams who struggled for years and acquired many high draft picks, Pittsburgh and Chicago come to mind. Both clubs have won the Stanley Cup in the past two years led by stars who were acquired early on in the first round of their respective draft classes.

Stay tuned for more predraft analysis as the date approaches.

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