Commence the handing out of party hats and the tossing of confetti, the Oilers just won the lottery and Steve Tambellini will once again get to don his favourite suit and tie and speak the words “With the 1st overall pick, the Edmonton Oilers proudly select…” Three years of picking first overall, a feat only matched by the 89-91 Quebec Nordiques. (Some have already pointed out it worked for them; the Nordiques would win the cup as the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. It should also be pointed out that none of the 3 players picked: Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, and Eric Lindros were part of that cup winning team.)
I’m not happy, and to be honest; neither should you. I get that picking 1st is better than 2nd, that the Oilers gained by winning the draft lottery. It’s not something to celebrate, it’s embarrassing, and this has to be the final year that it happens. No more excuses. We a plethora of talent at forward, and Dubnyk has shown us enough promise to earn the starter’s job next year. What does that leave? A defense to re-tool. Not impossible to do in a year, especially when you have a asset like a 1st overall pick.
With no offense to Nail Yakupov, I don’t want to see him in an Oilers uniform. Not because he’s Russian, or his angry eyebrows give me nightmares or anything like that, but if he lands us a package of 1st rounder + proven defenceman + prospect, you have to take that. You eventually have to stop taking the best available player and start addressing the team weaknesses. No bigger weakness than defence for the Edmonton Oilers. Yakupov will be a hell of player, I’ve no doubt of that. But this isn’t the 80’s, you can’t win on offensive output alone.
This needs to be the last year we watch the draft lottery show with any vested interest. I’m not a very demanding person, I’m not saying the Oilers need to win the Cup or go 82-0 or anything like that, but is it too much to ask for the first meaningful playoff push in years? It’s time for the rebuild to end, and it’s time for this team to start winning something more meaningful than draft lotteries.