Edmonton Oilers chief scout Stu MacGregor knows whose name he wants to call with the team’s second consecutive first overall pick at the NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota June 24.

Of course, MacGregor isn’t about to tell me who he has in mind, and he’s not above letting people try to sway his opinion when he and his scouting staff, along with GM Steve Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, open four days of meetings in Phoenix May 15.

Regardless of who MacGregor has in mind, it won’t be a two-horse race (one that soon turned into a runaway for Taylor Hall over Tyler Seguin) like it was a year ago at this time when he and his scouts compared a season worth of notes and put together a final list heading into Los Angeles.

My guess is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels is the player MacGregor has pegged for the top pick. Then again, it could just as well be smooth Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson. And what about big Sean Couturier of Drummondville, red-hot Jonathan Huberdeau of Saint John or Gabriel Landeskog of Kitchener?

If you look at the rankings of all the different scouting services and talk to hockey people, you can make a case that any one of the above players should be part of the conversation. Does that diversity of opinion exist on MacGregor’s staff?

That’s what the meeting is for.


"I’m pretty good on one, yes," said MacGregor, when I asked him if he’s leaning toward any one player at this point. "I feel pretty good about my guy, yes."

A lot of people would be willing to wager that the gifted but undersized Nugent-Hopkins is the player MacGregor likes with the first overall pick. The slight centre obviously has talent and he plays a position the Oilers didn’t fill last summer when they took Hall over Seguin.

After all, MacGregor and a rotating series of Edmonton scouts, along with Lowe and Tambellini among other team brass, have had eyes on the kid, as you’d expect, several times this season.

Then again, MacGregor just got back from the east coast where he was following Huberdeau, who has been tearing it up of late. And he was just over in Europe to see Larsson. Eyes on Couturier. Eyes on Landeskog. He’s been living out of a suitcase, making only occasional stops back home in Kamloops.

"There’s a lot more players in the mix this year than there was last year," said MacGregor, who was completely sold on Hall by the time the staff met at Predator Ridge a year ago. "Probably four or five . . . I would think that you could hear, probably, four."


By the time Hall and Windsor rolled through the playoffs and Memorial Cup a year ago, it was obvious to MacGregor who the Oilers had to pick. It’s not nearly as cut-and-dried this time, and that’s why there’s bound to be plenty of lively debate in Arizona.

"This is where we put our final list together," MacGregor said. "We make some major decisions on positioning and how it all fits together."

If there isn’t a clear and concise consensus with his staff, MacGregor gets the deciding vote. It’s a standard part of a process in which a year or more of travelling, drinking bad coffee and taking notes culminates with everybody making a case for the player they have in mind.

"If you watched Oil Change, this is where everybody was talking about each player (a year ago)," MacGregor said. "This is where most of your major discussions go on. We’ll have more at the draft and so on, but this is where the majority of your work gets done."

Is Nugent-Hopkins the player MacGregor has in mind? He isn’t saying. Might he be swayed if one or two or more of his scouts insist Couturier, Larsson, Landeskog or Huberdeau is the way to go? Maybe. By the way, who is the one you’re "pretty good on," Stu?

"That’s a good one," he laughed. "I knew that was coming."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Agreed Brent Burns is someone that could turn it around and I think you could get him at a good price. Maybe a way to include Fraser and Brule in that deal somewhere.

  • Dan the Man

    @OB1 Team RNH – F.S.T.N.F

    When I said wichever is less I was referring to the length not the cap hit. Please see Bruces post …he did a better job explaining it.

  • Wax Man Riley

    The thing is, we have a Hall and Eberle to try to ink to one of these deals. I think I would take both of them long term over Weber.

    I don’t consider Pääjärvi in this group, but he may turn out to be just as good or better, so that is a possibility as well.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      You honestly think anyone outside of Hall is going to need a star/superstar type deal?

      All the good teams have 2-3 players with star contracts (either big dollars or big term)

      In todays dollars, Hall is probably a 7.5 million player at his peak and Eberle might be a 5 – 5.5 million player at his peak…if he’s lucky.

      I really don’t know what everyone is so worried about saving up for.

  • NastyNate

    I can’t see Weber signing in Edmonton. Montreal maybe if it’s a Canadian team he wants. Shea will resign now that Nashville has a bit of a core group,…no way he pulls a “kovalchuk” and bails on that franchise. Nashville ain’t Fla, or Atl. They are a decent team.

  • I can’t see Weber signing in Edmonton. Montreal maybe if it’s a Canadian team he wants. Shea will resign now that Nashville has a bit of a core group,…no way he pulls a “kovalchuk” and bails on that franchise. Nashville ain’t Fla, or Atl. They are a decent team.

  • NastyNate

    This RFA talk is ridiculous. ON seems to be home to large numbers of pipe dreamers/smokers. How many players have been signed to offer sheets since penner? One of the worst moves in this teams history and created alot of distaste for this city and franchise aruond the league. We are finally starting to shed tht negative by building an exciting young core. Must be 50+ posts on here arguing the RFAs and offer sheets. What a joke, get real oiler fans.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            You know what’s even more ridiculous and unrealistic then talking RFA’s? Insiting the team is only going to “build from within”, theirs not one good team out there that doesn’t have at least a few good pieces that were either traded for or signed as free agents.

          • NastyNate

            Seeing as how we are 1 year into a re build, seems a little pre mature to start talking about offer sheeting a player that would cost us draft picks and wad of cash. A little patience is needed, if in a year or two when our young stars have blossomed into NHL players/stars and only then if we have glaring needs would i consider an offer sheet. Not when we have 4 offensive forwards coming back for a Sophomore season, 3 picks in the first 31 including first overall, and a goalie who has yet to play a full season.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            1 year in? I guess we are all intitled to our own opinion.

            I’ve got 2 straight 30th place finishes, top 10 picks in 4 of the last 5 years and no PO for 5 straight years that tell me it’s been longer then that.

            You can make a fair argument that we are a year too early to be looking to pluck a #1Dman, but it’s also pretty rare you’ll get 2 of them of this caliber up for RFA contracts with cash strapped teams in the same year…. when the “time is right” their might not be the guy we need available.

            Besides, if Bruce is correct I’d have Webber off the table (4 first would be just too much for me)….. though something probably could be worked out for Yandle that would still fall in the 2x1st range.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          No way there going to do that Waxy, in 30 yrs its never been part of they’re game plan, and theirs nothing we can do to change that.

          Wax Man, you do know we have Taylor Hall today partially because of that decision on Roli eh?

  • Wax Man Riley

    Now lets all go watch the Tampa game and cheer on Rolli… then shove it in Tambo’s face.

    Thank you Khabby for securing us the distinction of being only the second team in NHL history to have the #1 pick twice.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I find it really hard to have an opinion this year, unlike last year where I felt strongly Hall had more pedigree and desire.
    This year is a mixed bag. Couturier has more pedigree and size (2 96pt seasons in a row) and plays center.
    Hoppy has sick hands and speed and plays center
    Landeskog is a tough power forward.
    Larsson plays defense.
    Strome, Huberdeau are just entering the conversation, but seem to have size and play center.
    We actually need all of these players, and not one seems to be above the others.
    I think Hoppy and Couturier are my fave picks.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Have to think Keith Yandle would be an easier target compared to Weber. With the situation in Pheonix now they would be hard pressed to match even a shorter term front end loaded deal.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      This thought process makes 0 sense.

      Adding great players makes teams better. When you have an oppertunity to add one without giving up the farm you do it.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          He didn’t say “offer sheet” he said whales, their seems to be an overiding thought process amoungst Oiler fans that bringing on any high end talent at this point is a bad thing.

          Also, “the farm” is Hall, this years 1st and maybe Eberle. Next years first isn’t close to being in that conversation at this point.

          • OK, but the talk on this thread has been regarding the poaching of RFAs like Weber. He is both a “Whale” and someone requiring an Offer Sheet to acquire.

            And “The Farm” HAS to include any 1st round pick of the Oilers’ until it has been determined that the club is no longer a basement dweller. Although our 2012 1st Round pick has theoretically just as much chance at being 30th overall as Vancouver’s, it’s foolish to assume it will be anything except a lottery pick.

            Further, during this rebuild “The Farm” should probably be extended to any player under the age of 21/22 or draft pick in the 1st or 2nd round. All of those things should be strictly off-limits. Period.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Draft pick value is derived from their odds of producing high end talent.

            Once you get out of the top 3 or so the odds of pulling a player superior to Weber or Yandle is slim (like 15% – 20% slim in the 5-10 range, 5% – 10% slim in the 10-20 range and expotentially worse then that going deeper).

            Taking those kind of odds over a sure thing is a bad bet.

          • And it’s a bad bet to gamble that the Oilers will finish out of the bottom 3. And I recognize your numbers regarding the odds of getting a good player after the lottery slots, but it’s still true that both the players you mentioned were selected after the 1st round.

            The Webers and Yandles of the world are out there to be drafted and developed by the Oilers themselves.

            It’s also a bad bet to think that the Webers and Yandles of the world want to leave their homes and come play in Edmonton, even with large wads of cash being thrown at them.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I’m talking trade and RFA method here, lets get off the “no one will come here” attitude, I am fully aware that we are at distinct competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting players, but just instantly assuming no good players would ever come here is loser mentality.

            Also, with 2-3 smart additions theirs no reason this team couldnt start to at least become competitive as soon as next year.

            We can’t be in the lottery for ever, looking at the tank teams that everyone likes to point to as our modle (Chicago/Pitsburg/Washington) of their current roster the Hawks and Caps have 2 guys taken in the top 5, the Pens have 4.

            The time has come to start working our way out of the basement.

            Even with that said, I’d say you’d still be batting at least 50% taking Weber over a top 3 pick.

          • OB1, get real for a minute. The Oil threw wads of cash at Hossa, he said no. They begged and pleaded at the feet of Danny Heatley, he said no. They signed Pronger to a multi year deal, and he flew the coop after a year. They went to game 7 with Spacek, Peca, and Samsonov; they all went away. They tried to sign Malhotra, he said no. That’s a 3rd line centre OB1. A 3rd liner!

            Until the team is winning, the Oilers will remain one of the least desired places to play in North America. The End.

            It is not a loser mentality to assume big name players will not want to leave their established homes to come here unless they have enough incentive. Frankly, money isnt enough. These guys can get their money anywhere. It’s not even an assumption, actually, because the most recent player polls rank Edmonton extremely low.

            We also dont get to dictate when it’s time for the Oilers to start winning. They will win when they have enough talent and desire to win, and not a minute before then. Washington was a joke for a few years after they took Ovie, Pitt was for years after taking Crosby, it took Chicago the better part of a decade to climb out of the basement. Why is anyone expecting the Oil to flip the switch this year?

            There’s still huge question marks in Net and on Defense, as well as the Centre position. Literally the entire middle of the ice is questionable. Not 1 truly top notch dependable player down the middle of the ice. Horc is hurting and aging, Gagner isnt producing like a #1, Cogliano’s offence has dropped off the earth, Fraser is a lump, Whitney’s feet are gimped, Gilbert is Jekyl/Hyde, Khabibulin just posted AHL numbers, and Dubnyk was a rookie last year.

            This club is a miracle away from being competitive by next season.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Yes it is loser mentality.

            We might as well pack up the team and head south if things are that bad

            The #2 least desirable team in the league with an equally inept record was able to sign a quality player like Mark Striet, surely the Oilers can at least attract talent like that

            And I’m talking Columbus/Atlanta competitive next year, not Nashville/Tampa competitive

          • They thought they did attract Streit-like Talent in Foster. It didnt turn out so well for them.

            Reality is not a loser mentality. The Oilers dont have better options than keeping their picks and prospects and developing them internally. The next best thing is targeting Tier-2 Free Agents to fill gaps until Oiler drafted players can fill the biggest holes. The other option is the trade route, and Tambellini hasnt shown a propensity for it.

            Things are THAT bad. It doesnt mean they pack up and leave, it means they suck it up and take their beatings until they can get the talent. That is the plan, by all accounts (except for madjam) it is working.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            The Hawks were 10th the year after they drafted Kane, 4th the year after that.

            The Caps and Pens were 14th and 15th the year after drafting Sid and AO. By their 2nd year the Caps were still 14th but the Pens were 5th. By year 3 they finished 2nd and 3rd.

            I don’t expect to make the PO next year, but the time to start surrounding these guys with quality is now

          • Getting Kane was not year 1 of the Chicago Basement years. Getting Crosby was not the first year of the Pens Basement years. And Taylor Hall is neither Ovechkin nor Crosby, and he hasnt proven to be better than Kane either. Where does that leave us OB1?

            Those teams had multiple lottery picks on the team at the same time when they started to climb up the standings. Even then it took a few years. The wonder-kids need to be better on their own before they’ll be able to convince high end talent to join them in Edmonton.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            And this is not year 1 of the Oilers basement years either.

            All those teams were well up the standings by the time their respective #1 pick was a sphomore. By year 3 they were all top teams.

          • But it’s only been 1 year since Hall was taken and I previously listed the entire middle of the ice as being questionable regarding dependable talent. I know it isnt year 1 of the basement years, but until there’s a Centre, a Goalie, and a Defense pairing that is playing at a high level there wont be any Oiler Success. (2 out 3 could probably do it)

            As for Foster, well I bet they were banking on his success in TBay NOT being a one-off. But When Streit was picked up by the Islanders many people thought he was just another product of playing with Markov. 1 gamble paid off, 1 didnt.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            “But it’s only been 1 year since Hall was taken and I previously listed the entire middle of the ice as being questionable regarding dependable talent. I know it isnt year 1 of the basement years, but until there’s a Centre, a Goalie, and a Defense pairing that is playing at a high level there wont be any Oiler Success. (2 out 3 could probably do it)”

            I agree, that’s how far we are…. now we need to go out and fill those holes, if we are planning on doing it ALL from within it will likley take 3 more years, and that’s assuming Stu lives up to the hype.

            Are we really planning on being in the lottery in 2013?

            Three lottery picks AFTER drafting Taylor Hall? That would have to be considerd one of the worst 10 year stretches in the history of the NHL.

            Are we really going to give managment that big of a free pass? Because that’s really what we are doing if the game plan is to simply draft our way out of the basement.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            One of those Lotto picks was gifted to the Pens, so they really only spent 4 years actually playing lottery hockey.

            …. they were also considerd one of the worst tank teams of all time.

            However being in the lottery until 2013 should seem ludicrous…. very very ludicrous.

          • Fair enough but they were terrible for the 3 years Prior and 1 After. The Only reason they didnt have a chance to play a 5th year of Lotto Hockey is because the Lockout happened. Pittsburgh was a joke Franchise, so was Washington, so was Chicago, so is Edm…

            Given the situation here it should come to no shock at all that the team could be in the lottery for 2 more seasons. That said, if RNH/Whomever can be an impact player in a short amount of time then maybe by 2013 they wont be so bad.

            I’m prepared for the worst.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Why waste draft picks on RFA’s like Weber and Yandle when you can sign UFA James Wisniewski. All he would cost is money and Katz has lots of that.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    BUILD FROM WITHIN NONSENSE . This year is a good indication of build from within and the disasterous route thats already taken us . Scrap that plan , as there is little from within thats going to help us avoid the basement for years to come .

    Draft Larsson and maybe try and use our second first round pick with some expendables for another young defenceman like a Subban . We don’t have a competitive team by building from within to begin with – so why waste our time persuing another losing strategy !

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Man are you ever bizzar.

      The odds of us getting Subban for a 19th round pick and some expendables is about as high as us trading Eberle for a 19th pick and some expendables.

    • This ^^^^^^^^^ Is Crazy Speak.

      Building from within has brought the Oilers the best young group of players it’s had in recent years. That’s Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Peckham, and Petry. All drafted by the Oilers, all tracking upwards.

      And How the Hell do you plan on prying Subban (more proof that solid defensemen can be selected in the 2nd round) from Montreal? Do you honestly think they’ll take a 19th overall and some spare parts for Subban? Cheezus.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Felt the same way five yrs ago (pack up and move everything down south). It can’t get any worse than it has been in recent yrs. I feel we just need to make decisions on players sooner rather than later. This kid can play,this kid can’t, should give this kid another yr before we make a decision. We need to recylcle some kids that can’t play at the level that’s needed here for another shot at a kid who may be able to play (top 6 pick)

    Can’t help but feel there’s a Patrick Kane/Jonathon Toews/Drew Doughty coming in that top 6 group this summer…..he needs to be wearing an Oiler jersey.

    I agree with Obbies assessment that the time is now to get these kids some help but i wouldn’t sell the incoming kids short, RNH and Strome/Huberdeau/Couturier could make a difference much sooner than later .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Seeing this makes me want to say so long to those 4 first rounders. Give Shea Weber 85 million over 12 yrs, he’s half the battle as far as i’m concerned.

    Starting to look like that Horcoff contract is really going to bite the Oilers in the arse in 2 yrs.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      One center, one defensmen and one goalie.

      On top of that we need a handful or role players.

      Considering we likely/hopefully have the center this year it really shouldn’t be too much to ask of our managment group to add one more high end player and 3-4 role players (including a top 35 tender) in the next year or two.

  • Wax Man Riley

    All of these comparisons to Washington, Chicago, and Pittsburgh are optimistic. The Oilers could just as easily be in the beginning of a long-term spell of mediocrity like the Islanders or Florida.

    Until management, scouting and coaching have proven they can acquire and develop quality players, you can’t assume that we’ll repeat the success of Chicago or Pittsburgh. Using lottery picks to accumulate flashy one-dimensional players year after year is not a recipe for success. RNH may be an upgrade over Gagner, Cogliano, and Brule (wow what an awful bunch) but we’ll still be bottom 3 with him.