The Lottery!

With Ryan Whitney out of the picture for two months, the Edmonton Oilers’ already strong chance at a lottery finish just got a little stronger. The reality is that this team has had a stranglehold on a lottery position since the get-go, and this is just a little extra insurance to get them over the line.

As of today, the Oilers’ record projects them to finish 28th in the NHL, or alternately as the third of five teams with a chance at moving up into the first overall position in this summer’s NHL Draft Lottery.

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Projected Lottery Teams

Rank Team W L OT/SO PTS
1 New Jersey Devils 21 56 5 47
2 New York Islanders 22 46 14 58
3 Edmonton Oilers 28 40 14 70
4 Toronto Maple Leafs 30 42 10 70
5 Buffalo Sabres 33 40 9 75

Interestingly, if we step back to the start of December (before the Oilers were hit with injuries to Horcoff and Hemsky) we see the same five teams projected to finish in the lottery.

Projected Lottery Teams, December 1

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Rank Team W L OT/SO PTS
1 New York Islanders 19 44 19 57
2 New Jersey Devils 27 48 7 61
3 Edmonton Oilers 27 41 14 68
4 Buffalo Sabres 30 42 10 70
5 Toronto Maple Leafs 29 39 14 72

Naturally, the Oilers were hurt by the loss of Horcoff and Hemsky, but a turnaround in net prevented a free fall. Hemsky was lost to injury on December 1; on December 2 Nikolai Khabibulin returned from injury to post a shutout against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a victory that marked the beginning of a very solid stretch of hockey for the Russian goaltender (from Dec. 2 – Dec. 26: 4-3-1, 0.935 SV%).

Fortunately for fans of the rebuild, while the Oilers have taken solid steps forward this is still very much a lottery team, particularly with injuries to Whitney (the team’s best player to date) and Horcoff (arguably the most important centre to the current roster). The defence is a bit of a mess even with Whitney, the depth forwards (particularly the third line) are a disaster, and the goaltending is hit-and-miss. This is actually positive news, overall: though one wouldn’t know it based on the post 2005-06 Oilers, it’s a lot easier to find a third-line centre than it is to find bona fide top-six forwards, which Eberle and Hall show every sign of being.

A lottery finish is an important part of the rebuild this season. Whether the Oilers choose to add a stud defenceman or a star centre – and I’m convinced that they’ll address one of those two needs with their first round pick this summer – they will be acquiring an important piece of the long-term puzzle, the last piece they should need before moving back towards playoff contention. Between this summer’s first round pick, the trio of rookie forwards presently on the roster, the established NHL’ers on the team, and the prospects already in the system, the Oilers should have the nucleus of a playoff team. It will be up to Steve Tambellini and his staff to flush out the roster with useful veterans up front and on the back end.

This is a team built for lottery contention, and their finish this season should reflect that. But I’m hoping that this is the last time we can say that for a long time.


  • Personally, I lean towards Couturier at this juncture.

    That’s not a considered opinion – I don’t usually start doing heavy prospect research until I go over the CSS midterm rankings, so I’m open to arguments otherwise – but I think he probably combines BPA and ‘draft for need.’

    • Dan the Man

      agreed with that opinion. His performance at the world juniors has been pretty good and if you look at his linemates he’s being used as a shoutdown defender as he’s teamed with Louis Leblanc(projected to be a top 9 banger with skills) and Marcus Foligno(projected to be a grinder) for the most part. He’s shown decent ability to keep the puck alive but I agree with the other posters in terms of his offence. It’s a little raw and sometimes he’s not entirely sure what to do with the puck. It’s a little odd as the QMJHL is known for having the most creative offensive players because of the wide open style in the league and he’s was the leading scorer last year.

      But he meets a lot of needs that Edm requires. A shutdown center with very good defensive positioning and size down the middle as he’s already 6’3 192lbs at 18. KILLS penalties and while he’s raw he does have offensive skills.

      Many analysts are projecting him comparatively to Lecavalier/or either Staal brother(Eric/Jordan) the Oilers could use a player like that. Although if the Oilers don’t get him I definitely wouldn’t cry if the Oilers got Ryan Nugent Hopkins. It seems the prevailing opinion is that like last year RNH is projected to have the highest ceiling while Couturier is the most NHL ready in terms of physical strength and the maturity of his game defensively.

  • book¡e

    The injuries help the Oilers reach lottery land in a more respectable manner than the ‘wink wink’ job that the team was moving forward with. Maybe now they can actually work on fixing the power play and adding that 3rd line center. The team is weak enough by injury now that they can address those issues without fear of climbing out of the basement.

  • Top Right

    The question is, no matter who we draft this year, should we start them on the team next year? Im not sold on anybody projected 1st through 5th being that breakout guy the instant he gets drafted. Nor am I sold on either of these guys being about to handle the NHL at age 18-19. I think no matter who we draft this year, we wont be seeing them until 2 years from now.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    COUTURIER!

    Seriously though, he looks like a perfect 1C. He’s responsible defensively, strong on the puck, and battles around the net. He doesn’t strike me like a point-per-game guy in the NHL but he’s still exactly what the team needs, especially 4 and 14.

    If we’re lucky enough to draft Couturier, and bring him along properly, a line with 4, 14, and him would be one of the best balanced lines in the league.

    Honorable mention goes to Larsson. It’s a win-win draftng top 2 this year, IMO.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    JW:

    If the Oilers pick top 4 (which a bottom 3 finish guarantees), that would guarantee one of Couturier, RNH, Larsson, or Landeskog, assuming that’s the consensus top 4.

    So, they’d have a pretty high chance of filling their “need” just by luck since 3 of the 4 would fill that need. But, say the Oilers pick 4th and Landeskog is highest on their list.

    Assuming Landeskog is actually the BPA at that spot, do people want EDM to take Landeskog there, take a C or D there, or trade down and take a C or D?

  • @ speeds:

    I haven’t done enough draft analysis to give you a firm answer, but I’d hope the Oilers would attempt to trade up.

    Though I like Landeskog a lot.

    Then again, given that Toronto has no incentive to tank, I’d suggest it’s unlikely the Oilers finish the season higher than 28th.

  • BaconWrapped

    Anyone know an easy way to figure out where the Oilers were sitting at this point last year? I seem to remember looking at the standings and thinking that there was no possible way they could catch Carolina… Few short months later and Edmonton hand the #1 pick locked up going away.

    • Petr's Jofa

      Thank you.

      According to that site, the lottery standings Jan 1st, 2010 were:

      Florida 39 points (41games played)

      Anaheim 39 points (41 games played)

      Columbus 39 points (42games played)

      Toronto 37 points (41games played)

      Edmonton 36 points (41games played)

      Carolina 27 points (41games played)

      By the end of last season, Edmonton had managed to catch Carolina and their 9 point lead and put 12 points between them and the next closest team, Toronto.

      This year is a little bit more difficult based on the fact that there are 2 teams between Edmonton and the prize. The Islanders have 24 points in 33 games. New Jersey only has 20 in their 35 games which appears to be a commanding 10 point lead but if Whitney is truely out until late Feb nothing is impossible.

    • John Chambers

      Either this summer (post-draft) or the following, the Oilers should stock up on quality UFA’s and take a legitimate run at making the playoffs again.

      If I were GM, in summer 2011 I would pursue Ville Leino as a 2nd / 3rd line winger (6 yrs / 21M), Justin Williams (2 yrs / 12M), and a shutdown d-man like Jan Hejda (5 yrs / 22M).

      I would also consider dealing the 2012 first overall pick and either Hemsky or Penner in order to fill a hole at C or on D.

      Notice I also gave Williams a 2 year deal with a lot of money so that his contract expires when Hall & co’s ELC’s expire.

      That said, I think it’s more prudent that the Oilers look at 2011-2012 as another ‘developmental’ year, and then look to finish the re-build then. I don’t think Couturier or anyone in the draft has the ability to step in and be an impact player, or possibly even an NHL player for the 2011-2012 season.

      Consider that the Oilers’ first-round pick might be interesting trade bait after they’ve tanked it three years running … if they load up on UFA’s and Hall & Eberle are entering their third NHL season, it would be valuable trade bait that might only become a 12th or 16th overall pick.

  • Petr's Jofa

    The great thing about this draft is, any top 3 pick and we cant go wrong, we need all of them. Couturier, RNH and Larsson all fit major needs for us. Win win.
    Conspiracy theorists would say that Tambellini purposely didnt pick up a veteran 3C so that we would be guaranteed a lottery ball.

    • Jodes

      The reason why Tambellini purposely didn’t pick up a veteran 3C is because he’s still “assessing” the situation of Face Offs, Penalty Killing, and general grittiness.

      Oh yeah, and he’s also “assessing” our defensive situation too..

      Maybe we’ll have answers before the team finally moves downtown in 2014.

  • Wouldn’t it ultimately be easier to move one of the wingers to center to fill that need and draft Larsson? I mean, is it really reasonable to expect Marincin to be our #1 defenceman at this point? Or Petry?

    At some point, Gagner either rounds out into a #1C, or one of Hall or Eberle moves into that spot. I don’t think they need another young forward to build around. They just have to look at shifting around a few bodies, IMO.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      I think the chances of getting an impact defenseman (1D) later in the draft are much better than an impact center (1C).

      Don’t think anyone thought Zdeno Chara or Duncan Keith would be #1 defensemen when they were both drafted in the 3rd round.

      Obviously an argument can be made the other way, but given the opportunity, I’d draft Couturier and take my chances with Marincin or Petry, or later picks in the draft.

      Oh and there’s no way Hall or Eberle are ever playing center. I actually thought about Eberle after you mentioned it but what’s the difference between him and Gagner playing that position??

  • misfit

    If you assume we end up at 3 like both of those projections suggest, and you assume Couturier and Larsson go 1-2 respectively (which I believe they will), even with our need for a center, I actually think they’d use the 3rd pick on Landeskog (sp?) despite the fact that he’s a winger.

    MacGregor likes Strome from what I hear, but I have to think 3rd overall is too early for him. And as much talk as he made about the center position and “we need defesemen” on Oil Change, the fact that we took Hall and Pitlick over Seguin and Marincin respectively tells me that he recognizes the need, but ultimately selects based on BPA. It also tells me that Tambellini is the only person alive who’s unaware of the needs of this team.

    • D-Man

      Of course, Tambo isn’t aware of the teams needs since he keeps Stu MacGregor on his staff(??!) Give your head a shake… We also drafted Marincin with a trade Tambo made for our second 2nd round draft pick as I recall…

      In the draft, you take BPA… Perhaps in the NFL, where it’s not unheard of a 3rd or 4th rounder cracking the starting lineup or playing on special teams, you can draft for need, but not in the NHL… If the Landeskog is the BPA at 3rd pick – take him… That simply makes the overall line up that much stronger and makes a couple of our veteran wingers/defensemen/centers more expendable…

      As many of us are already aware, both Penner and Hemsky’s contracts are up after next year… Both have some decent trade value; if you can’t draft to fulfill your need you trade for it…

      • misfit

        That’s not what I was saying at all. Having MacGregor on the staff is not proof that Tambellini doesn’t know what the team needs. The fact that he has done nothing to address them (and they haven’t changed) in 3 years is the proof of that.

        And I’m all for BPA. The fact that MacGregor took Hall and Pitlick when we needed centermen and defenesmen is a good thing (I don’t see Pitlick playing center as a pro). And I say that for the same reasons you did. You always draft BPA, especially late in the draft because you don’t know what your team is going to look like once these players are ready to make the jump. Plus, there’s no guarantee they’ll even make it, so you always take the best player.

        • D-Man

          Having MacGregor on staff PROVES Tambo knows what he’s doing… No one would disagree with the Magnificent Bastard’s track record – keeping him around when Tambo began cleaning house shows he knows a thing or two… You might also forget that Tambo put an offer down for Malholtra (who declined not wanting to be a part of the rebuild) and for Chris Neil (who we could debate is harder to play against that JFJ or Stortini)… And that’s what WE KNOW OF…

          I’m not saying Tambo is the greatest GM of all time (IMO – the Khabby contract was an extremely stupid move), but I think he’s not getting enough credit with some of the moves he has made… The trade for Whitney, the Staios trade, buying out Nilson/Moreau, the POS trade are all good moves for the future…

  • Ryan Nuggent-Hopkins is a programmatic non-fit for the Oilers unless they trade Sam Gagner.

    If he’s is the BPA when the Oilers draft, I’d advise moving the pick to get another asset and take the best defenseman available.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    All things being equal, you have to go for the character guy, the guy who wants to win at all costs and is a team first guy. Cliche but true. I believe this separated Hall from Seguin.

    • Take the BPA. The Oilers are already going to have some interesting contract negotiations in 2-3 years, and depending on how things play out a guy like Gagner may not be around, so passing on RNH doesn’t make sense (if he’s BPA).

      You are better off drafting the best player and then trading them down the road than to take a lesser player based on need.

  • Petr's Jofa

    Unless the Oilers somehow get #1 and grab the obvious pick in Couturier they have to go with Larsson over RNH or Landeskog.

    We’re thin with defensemen in the system. Petry and Peckham are with the big club, Plante is in the AHL, Marincin is probably 2-3 years away.
    Who else is there?

    We need an impact defenseman in the system more than a center at this point.

    Besides, Pitlick and Martindale could end up borderline 1st/2nd line centers at some point.

    • D-Man

      We should have Whitney for a couple more years, and Gilbert has shown that he can be a capable #3-#4 defenseman… That still leaves a couple more holes on the back end but if you have that strong face-off winning centermen, you’re requirements on the backend aren’t as huge…

      Puck control is key and if we can get that decent centremen to push our team faceoff percentage over 51 to 52%, your PK and PP get stronger and your defensive play instantly improves…

      You also forget that if we say drafted RNH or Landeskog (and couldn’t get a shot at Larrson); Gagner/Cogliano have now became a bit more expendable… Perhaps you trade a Gagner to find that young, solid defensemen to shore up your core. You can’t do that know as we’re thin down the middle as well, but that’s why you draft BPA and not for need.

  • Ryan14

    RNH is so small. If we drafted him, our top 2 centers moving forward are under 6’2 200. A majority of RNH’s points are also PP assists. How well does that translate to the NHL?

    An argument could be made that Landenskog is the third BPA as things stand.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Agreed, I’ve seen RNH a tonne and highly doubt he’ll be much better then Gagner (which would be fine if one/both of them were 3 inches taller/30lbs heavier).

      IMO if we can’t get Couturier/Larson we move the pick for a proven top 6 center with size from a team that needs cap space.

  • Ender

    russ99 wrote:

    Unless the Oilers somehow get #1 and grab the obvious pick in Couturier they have to go with Larsson over RNH or Landeskog. We’re thin with defensemen in the system. Petry and Peckham are with the big club, Plante is in the AHL, Marincin is probably 2-3 years away. Who else is there? We need an impact defenseman in the system more than a center at this point.

    I’m going to respectfully disagree. Drafting defensmen that high is a really big spin on the roulette wheel. Defensemen aren’t as predictable at that age; their development can keep them strong, or they can for no explainable reason stall and turn into nobodies. I know that’s true to a degree with forwards, but the odds of a premier forward who’s tearing up junior turning into a bust in the NHL are pretty low; conversely, a ‘can’t-miss’ junior defenseman can in fact miss quite easily in the Show.

    If we’re talking about BPA in the second round, then maybe you take the big hulking defenceman. On the 2nd overall pick, though, I’d argue that Larsson is too big a gamble; you either try to pry the number one away from the Devils or whoever has it, or more likely you trade down one spot and take a forward and the extra asset instead. Much safer.

    If you need a defenceman, let another team grow them and then trade one of your extra pieces for one. It’s slightly more expensive that way, but at least you know you’re getting what you pay for.

    • Rogue

      Totally agree with Ender. A Dman is normally 4-5 years before he is an impact player. And there is no guarantee even then. You may get a steal down the road drafting wise. Or try to get one thru a trade.

      I would like to see how many top 5 drafted defensemen in the past 15 years became “difference makers” Lowetide?

    • BGH - Team SQUEEE

      I totally agree with this and would like to further add 1 more point to it.

      A forward, can develop and be ready for the NHL in 2 years (see Eberle for example) if they are not capable of starting right away.

      Defensemen on the other hand usually have a longer curve and can be as long as 4,5 or 6 years til they are ready to make an impact.

      This teams needs a 1-2 defenseman to play with Whitney sooner rather then later.

      If we draft and wait for a defensemen to develop, we could potentially waste a couple years of the forwards we have (Hall, MPS, Eberle).

      Draft best center available imo, move other pieces (Hemsky, Penner, Cogs, Brule) and other prospects for that #1-2 defensemen we need.

    • The reason defenceman are a bigger gamble is the same reason goalies are so hit and miss on their draft position. Forwards for the most part develop in 3-5 years from the time of their draft year. Defenceman tend to take much longer as they tend to take 5-7 years as they finish their junior career and then play 3-5 years in the AHL and any other lower pro league depending on how they progress. With such a large window in terms of development many things can happen. The player could grow 3-4 inches and become stronger and rangier. The player’s skills become more effective as they get stronger and older. Or the player just clicks and their off season training and practice methods become better. Also in that window injuries can take their toll on high end defensive draft picks.

      I disagree with the fact that Adam Larsson is a gamble though. I agree with other posters that if Couturier is gone and the Oilers draft anywhere from 2-4 they have to take Larsson because his physical maturity is there at 6’3 209lbs and he’s supposed to be more poised and intelligent than Victor Hedman. Plus at worst he becomes a top 3 dman and the Oilers only have one of those types right now with Ryan Whitney. Having Marincin, Whitney, Petry, and Larsson on the backend would be a much improved defence. Also with the fact that many people project Larsson as the most NHL ready of the top 3 picks his window of development is much shorter and he will become relevant at the same time as Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, and the other 2009/2010 blue chip prospects.

  • Bob Cobb

    I think hell has officially frozen over because its snowing in Calgary and I completely agree with you. The Oilers are a Lottery team and they should take Couturier if they get the top pick. I had no expectations for this team this year and think a top 3 pick at the very least is exactly what this team needs to set a solid foundation. Address the top line centre need and than work on the bottom 2 lines and the backend. This rebuild is not a 1 year thing and as Oiler fans lets be patient, we’ll be competitive soon and than we can laugh at the Flames cause they are going to be terrible, it will be sweet.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Like it or not this will help us greatly long term. The hockey gods smile amongst the Oiler faithful landing them that first pick again after finishing 28th overall, this is the year a team moves up in the lottery process. That is what i see through these rose colored glasses.

    Hit the Islanders up with the offer of Hemsky and Gagner for their first selection this summer, don’t get me wrong, Gagner will be a fine player in another 3 or 4 years, i’m not hating on Gagner, but you have to give something to get something. Gagner is the sizzle in this deal the Islanders may not pass up.

    Penner plus whomever else they desire that isn’t named Hall, Eberle and maybe even Paajarvi to the Bruins for that Bos/Tor first pick, or perhaps even Seguin. The Bruins are close, too close to let an opportunity like this slip by. Take some money back to make this work for the Bruins but there is an opportunity that this pick is available if Chiarelli thinks the Oilers have something that would help them get over that hump.

    If one of these two possible scenarios occur that may give us 2 of the top 5 picks this coming summer and signal the end of the most difficult part of the rebuild. Some may laugh, but things may be much closer than they appear.

    It’s unfortunate to have to move a guy like Penner, as soon as he’s gone we’re going to need a player just like him within a couple years. Keep hammering away and hope the Islanders can be tempted.

    • D-Man

      The Bruins aren’t that close… They’d still have to find a way to get past Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh… Penner and another player wouldn’t really do that… Neither would a Hemsky/Gagner package… Hemsky and Gagner also wouldn’t help NYI out of the purgatory they exist in either… Top five picks are extremely valuable; a smart GM wouldn’t deal them away…

      Even if Tambo could get a bite on one of your proposed deals, we’d have one more crappy year to contend with… You’re suggesting we deal away somewhat proven veterans for some potential prospects… Don’t get me wrong – having Larrson or Couterier next year would help the rebuild, but we should expect the same growing pains we have with the three kids we have now… In fact, if we get that stud d-man or centre, there would be more pressure on those rookies, as their respective positions are harder to learn in the NHL.

      I do like your thinking ‘outside the box’ though… I hope you’re right and Tambo could tempt one of those two teams…

  • Ryan Parent is on waivers…do the Oilers roll the dice on him? He’s a guy that has never quite realized his potential and is stuck far down the depth chart on a deep back end in Vancouver.

    $850K this year, $1M next year, RFA after that. If he develops into a strong #5 stay-at-home D man, he could end up being a steal.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      The Oilers can’t afford to say no to this, i’d like to think we’ll see him here soon, if not even today. It would be great to see him blossom as an Oiler. The Canucks are tempting the Oilers with the timing on this, maybe they can sweeten it and do it on re-entries. The Oilers pretty much got Craig Muni and Charlie Huddy in similar fashion, this could work out well for the Oilers with him having only a few NHL seasons under his belt.

      • D-Man

        Although he has the pedigree being a 1st round draft pick, he only has 7 point and 36 PIMS in 106 NHL games… The price is right, but he certainly sounds like another defenseman who’s soft… We already have some decent puck moving defenseman in Whitney, Gilbert and potentially, Petry… I’d keep that roster spot open to see more of what we have in Petry and Plante…

        The stats certainly don’t show a Huddy or a Muni – which I agree is what we need to shore up our back end…

        • Quicksilver ballet

          At that price if he doesn’t work out he walks after the two years he has left. You never know, he could be one of those D’men that mature after a few years of being in the league. Whitney may be even better here than he was his first year in Pittsburgh, not many seen this coming. I had him pegged as a rental but he’s made himself an irreplaceable asset on this team it seems.

          We’re just so thin on the back end it wouldn’t be like throwing a raw rookie out there, what do we have to lose bringing another kid who may or may not pan out after only 100 or so games. Agree’d he is a little on the soft side but a couple other softies (Smid and Gilbert) are getting by here without notice.