Oilers win draft lottery
In a manner of speaking, the Edmonton Oilers went from worst to first Tuesday night, winning the NHL lottery and the right to the No. 1 pick in the draft.
The last-place Oilers had a 48.2 per cent chance of securing the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history and, barring a trade, will become the first Canadian team to pick first since the Ottawa Senators selected defenceman Chris Phillips in 1996.
"This is a significant moment for the organization and it's an important part of the process moving forward," Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said in a statement. "We have the first overall pick in this year's draft.
"This is a very exciting time for our organization and our fans. Securing the first overall draft selection tonight provides a tremendous opportunity for the Oilers."
Edmonton will either obtain a top-rated pro prospect or entertain trade offers from other teams for the top slot, though Tambellini seems inclined to keep the pick.
"I'm sure there's lots of teams that have ideas how to make our team better," he said. "I always have to listen.
"We're focused right now on the No. 1 pick. For us to move that pick at this point, I can't think of what it would have to be."
Edmonton (27-47-8) endured a disastrous, injury-plagued season — its worst since posting a 25-45-14 record in 1993-94 — but there is reason for optimism with junior sensation Jordan Eberle already in the fold and a skater of similar ilk still to come.
"We're more into a reshaping, a rebuilding mode right now," Tambellini noted. "Everybody is clear about that [and] this will be a wonderful building block to add on to some of the other draft choices we have in place now."
NHL Central Scouting considers Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires and Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers as the top prospects in the draft, to be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 25-26.
Hall and Seguin, both highly skilled forwards, shared the scoring title in the Ontario Hockey League with 106 points apiece.
Asked who he prefers, Hall or Seguin, Tambellini replied: "That question has not been answered yet."
Other coveted prospects include Cam Fowler of the Spitfires, Erik Gudbranson of the Kingston Frontenacs, Brett Connolly of the Prince George Cougars, Brandon Gormley of the Moncton Wildcats and Nino Niederreiter of the Portland Winterhawks to name a few.
'Adds to our forward group'
The Boston Bruins traded sniper Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a select package of high picks last Sept. 18, and, though playoff bound, were rewarded with a lottery pick because Toronto finished a lowly 29th.
Thanks to the lowly Leafs, Boston had the second-best shot at landing the top pick at 18.8 per cent and, true to form, retained the second slot in the lottery. Expect them to grab either Hall or Seguin.
"First and foremost, it will give us some more goals, which is nice," beamed Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, mindful that Boston had the second-worst offence in the NHL this season.
"It adds youthful energy, youthful enthusiasm. It adds to our forward group."
The Florida Panthers (14.2 per cent) held onto the third overall selection, followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets (10.7 per cent) and New York Islanders (8.1 per cent).
Rounding out the Top 10 is the Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers.
The Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues are slotted 11 through 14, respectively.
With files from The Canadian Press