When it comes to moving up in the Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers have had less luck than Wanye Gretz trying to convince the hottest girl — any girl — in high school to give him her phone number. In other words, no sniff.
As desperate and sad as that is, chances are the Oilers will be pitching to move up from the 10th pick in Montreal. Of course, that’s an obligatory angle with this outfit.
— In 2003, GM Kevin Lowe tried to move up from the 17th pick with an eye to getting a shot at one of a trio of defencemen: Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn or Dion Phaneuf. No cigar. He ended up moving down to 22nd and taking Marc Pouliot.
— In 2002, Lowe offered Mike Grier and a swap of picks to move into the top four because he wanted Joni Pitkanen. Again, no dice. Lowe ended up picking 15th and calling the name of the immortal Jesse Niinimaki, who is now running a hair-dressing salon in Amsterdam.
— Perhaps the Oilers biggest push came back in 1988, when Glen Sather did everything he could to make a deal with St. Louis to get the ninth pick and take Teemu Selanne. No sale. The Blues kept the pick and took Rod Brind ‘Amour. Winnipeg took The Finnish Flash 10th.
The Oilers ended up with towering but utterly immobile defenceman Francois (Two Left Feet) Leroux, who played 11 games in Edmonton silks. Talk about the difference between bagging the math class hottie and ending up with Mrs. Palmer and her five daughters.
But I digress . . .
This time around
The consensus — if you can call it that considering the amount of variation between team lists and rankings by NHL Central Scouting and other outlets — is there’s three tiers in the top 10 picks at this year’s picking of pimply faced talent.
The first tier is John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene and Evander Kane. The second includes Brayden Schenn, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Scott Glennie and, arguably, Jared Cowan. The third tier begins with the likes of Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder and John Moore.
While the Oilers, it goes without saying, would love to move into a top-four spot, it’s more realistic to think they might land a pick in spots five through eight if they can find a trading partner willing to swap, say, fifth or sixth spot for 10th and a roster player.
The Oilers would be happy to get Schenn, Paajarvi-Svensson, Glennie or Cowan. The question is, what would moving four or five spots cost? Depends on the team on the other end of the conversation with GM Steve Tambellini.
If the Oilers can’t move up, don’t be surprised if they take Kassian at 10th or even move down and take a long look at Ryan Ellis.
Hey, tough guy
I don’t know what it is about tough guys, but Zack Stortini has taken over where Georges Laraque left off as the Oilers unofficial good will ambassador in the community.
If there’s an event around Edmonton, be it a golf tournament, a visit to a school or any manner of charity function, you’re likely to see Stortini at it, shaking hands, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Just as Gentleman Georges was and is famous for, Stortini has the heaviest calendar of any Oiler, by a long shot, when it comes to public appearances in town. He’s the epitome of the tough guy with a heart of gold.
I had a good, long chat with Stortini at TEAM 1260’s golf tournament at The Ranch Tuesday, a talk that was interrupted by him posing for pictures, including a grip-and-grin with guys from my foursome, at least five times in 20 minutes.
What fans, and I, admire about Stortini is he’s likely the most down-to-earth NHL athlete you’ll ever meet. No pretence. No “look at me.” A lot of NHLers who think they’re a big deal could learn a thing or two from Zack.
Same goes for Steve MacIntyre.
— Dwayne Roloson repeated his belief he can play another four or five years in an interview he did with Jim Matheson of The Journal this week, and maybe that’s true, but it won’t be in Edmonton.
As much as I admire Roloson’s compete level, and it’s ridiculously high, the Oilers will be making a huge mistake if they sign him to more than a one-year deal. Do you think Tambellini really wants to be locked into two years 20 games into next season if Jeff Deslauriers has shown he can carry the mail? Or if he can acquire a Josh Harding or Scott Clemmensen? Well, no, and that’s why talks on a new contract haven’t begun.
With Ray Emery reportedly destined for Philadelphia — speaking of “look at me” and dickishness in general — Roloson doesn’t have a lot of options for a multi-year deal. If I’m Tambellini, it’s one-or-done for Roli.
— Ran into former Oiler Sean Brown Tuesday. He’s heading back to Europe for a fifth straight season.
While Brown is good enough and more than tough enough to play in the NHL somewhere, the combination of a car, an apartment, a good salary and a 52-game schedule has him on his way back to Austria.
— Could Marc Crawford end up back behind the bench in Colorado? I can only hope. There’s a heaping helping of humble pie waiting to be jammed down Crow’s gullet. Go for it, Marc, and take Dan Cloutier with you. The over-under is 34 wins.
— Mats Sundin? Please. For the love of God, common sense and salary cap space, let’s not start thinking about the Big Swede in Edmonton silks just because he has ties to Pat Quinn. Sundin’s in my NCFOM File with Jaromir Jagr. With the salary cap likely to be in the high-40s in 2010-11, find a pay day someplace else, gents.
— Scott Hartnell? Ryane Clowe? That’s money better spent.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.