Today Steve Tambellini is a true believer in karma. His recent and random acts of benevolence are starting to look worthwhile – holding the door, returning the money, whatever it may be. Defying his 18.8% odds, Tambellini won the privilege to pick first overall in this year’s entry draft for the third consecutive time. Before the lottery was implemented, only one team in league history had been bad enough to finish dead last three times in a row. That team was the Quebec Nordiques, and if history repeats itself than they should be an indication of the dynastic potential of the Edmonton Oilers.
So what does this mean for the Oilers? They already have a ridiculously good core group of forwards, with by far the most offensive prospects in the game. Consensus first-overall pick, Russian forward Nail Yakupav, will likely round out a number of Edmonton’s talented youngsters like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, and Sam Gagner. That’s almost two lines of young stars alone. Tambellini can choose to keep and groom these players or move the first overall pick to bolster his very average defensive roster. He could decide to take Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray, but Yakupav is a hard talent to pass up. With NHL-like flair he can do some serious damage that we remember all too well from the World Juniors. Murray is expected to join Columbus, an organization who had to be upset with the denial of the first pick, despite their 43% chances.
To many Leafs fans, the lottery was a glimmer of hope at the end of a difficult season, to say the least. Most will be disappointed with the result – a fifth overall pick, likely to evoke memories of the Luke Schenn decision. The Leafs will probably have to choose between one of three foreign centers – Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, or Alex Galchenyuk – depending on the picks of the Islanders and Canadiens. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but it would be interesting to see Brian Burke opt for hometown goalie Malcolm Subban, brother of PK, to solve Toronto’s recurring goaltending issues. If Subban could develop into a reliable starter he could return home for quite a while, and would give Burke some much-needed credibility. Toronto has been yearning for a popular and dependable goalie since the Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph days.
The draft is set for June 22nd in Pittsburgh, and will be an eventful weekend. Anticipate some draft-day trade antics and some interesting picks from GMs across the board. While Yakupov is a star in the making, this draft class lacks a true outstanding superstar – no Taylor Hall or even a Nugent-Hopkins. It would be exciting to see Tambellini try to swing a deal with his first overall pick, as there are many teams that need Yakupov more than the Oilers. Hopefully Tambellini can handle the pressure of a third consecutive first overall pick, for as of last night his bottom-dwelling grace period is drawing to a close.
Zack Rota – @ZackRotaEsq