Jim Matheson at The Journal is hearing much the same things I am about Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini angling for a second top pick in the first round at the NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota next Friday.
My understanding is the Oilers, who will likely use the first overall pick to take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels, are looking at making a deal to move into the top five, specifically the top three, to get a shot at Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson.
On June 14 I wrote: "Just Saying: Might the Oilers look at trading the 19th pick in the first round this year and their first pick in 2012, which figures to be anything from a fifth to a 10th pick, to get a second top-five pick in Minny? More on that to come."
Matty chimed in Thursday with: " . . . they are trying hard to move up from No. 19 (the pick bequeathed from the Los Angeles Kings in the Dustin Penner trade) into the top 10, presumably to take a defenceman," mentioning interest in Larsson, Doug Hamilton and Duncan Siemens.
While I’m hearing top five, which is where the Oilers will have to be to have any chance of getting Larsson, and Matheson is hearing top 10, which allows for more potential trade partners, it seems obvious to me Tambellini is working the phones, as he should.
Getting a deal done, as always, is another matter.
WORKING THE ANGLES
If the Oilers covet Larsson as I believe, they’re going to have to move into the third selection slot to get him, meaning Tambellini will be talking to Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers.
With Tallon looking to stockpile draft picks, I can see Tambellini offering the 19th pick from the Penner deal with Los Angeles and his first pick in 2012 for the third pick in Minnesota.
That line of thinking is predicated on the Oilers being completely sold that Larsson is a better defensive prospect than anybody who will be available in 2012 and that Tambellini is confident the Oilers will improve enough this season that their first selection next summer won’t be a high lottery pick, but something in the range of 5-10.
While we can debate the likelihood the Oilers will move out of lottery contention this season, and already have in the original item I wrote, my sense is that will be his approach.
Working a deal with Tallon, of course, goes right out the window if the Colorado Avalanche take Larsson with the second pick. I don’t see the Avs going that way, but the possibility likely means any potential deal with Florida will come on the draft floor, even if the teams are talking now.
If Tambellini is casting a wider net, as Matheson suggests, that brings teams like New Jersey (4th), the New York Islanders (5th), Ottawa (6th) and Columbus (8th) into play.
Former Oiler assistant GM Scott Howson, now the boss in Columbus, would seem to be the likeliest trade partner in that scenario. He’s got to get the Blue Jackets into the playoffs this season and he might be willing to deal his first pick for the 19th and a roster player who can help now.
Tambellini tried without success to get Howson’s fourth overall pick last summer, one he intended to use on centre Ryan Johansen after taking Taylor Hall. Might one of Edmonton’s small, skilled forwards convince Howson to move this time around?
Either way, whether it’s Florida or Columbus or any team in between, there’s definitely some smoke here, so it’ll be worth keeping an eye on once Jason Gregor and I get to Minnesota Wednesday. Stay tuned.
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