AT RANDOM: THE NATION INVADES MINNY

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — I don’t imagine Steve Tambellini’s flight had been on the tarmac for very long when his phone started ringing. I don’t expect it’ll stop until he selects Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft Friday.

Of course, Tambellini hasn’t come right out and called his shot yet. Neither has chief scout Stu MacGregor, who has three selections in the first 31 picks — 1st, 19th and 31st.

And there’s even been some buzz, unfounded as best I can tell, the Edmonton Oilers might put that first overall pick up for grabs and move down, if the price is right. Please. Bet the farm it’s RNH at No. 1.

It’s not that Tambellini had the slight but oh-so-talented Red Deer Rebels center over for dinner the other night. The Oilers did the same thing with Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin last summer, inviting both of them to Daryl Katz’s swank joint overlooking Hawrelak Park.

What telegraphed Tambellini’s intentions for me was his not-so-subtle emphasis Tuesday that while the Oilers obviously want the best player with the pick, it’s not a priority that player wears Edmonton silks when the 2011-12 season begins.

PATIENCE

Tambellini was as vague as you’d expect with reporters at Rexall Place Tuesday, offering little in the way of insight as to specifics about what he’s got on the go and who he’s been talking to. No surprise.

It was his insistence the Oilers get a "special player" with the first pick Friday, as opposed to putting any premium on a player ready to jump into the NHL right away, that stuck with me. What Tambellini said screamed, "We’re taking Nugent-Hopkins."

"When I ask our scouts in the meeting, when we get in there, point to me someone who is special," Tambellini said. "Someone who is special who can bring something we don’t have.

"Something that is, maybe not right now, but maybe a couple of years from now is going to be obvious elite. That’s what we need."

I don’t think selecting Nugent-Hopkins and then sending him back for another season in the WHL is a particularly hard sell, even if the vast majority of forwards taken first overall in the last 25 years have made the jump directly to the NHL the season after they’re drafted.

"I’m not adamant that this player, whoever he is, has to play next season," Tambellini said. "That’s the difference, I think. Taylor, I think, we knew more than not that he was going to play and we had a spot for him.

"This year, if the player can play, great. If he doesn’t, I’m not worried about that right now. I just want the best player."

Besides, we’re putting the cart way ahead of the horse to suggest Nugent-Hopkins won’t play in the NHL next season just because he’s a bit scrawny. Assuming, of course, they pick him.

MOVING UP?

Fans roll their eyes, and with good reason, when we begin churning out the obligatory stories about the possibility of the Oilers moving up in the first round. That’s happened how many times? Exactly.

The dynamic is considerably different, however, with Edmonton already holding the first pick.

Tambellini has already said he’d like to move up, be it a bold move into the top-five with an eye to landing Adam Larsson, or into the top-10, and he hasn’t backed off that.

The way I see it unfolding, the 19th overall pick, obtained in the Dustin Penner trade with Los Angeles, stands to be a big bargaining chip in any effort Tambellini makes to move up, be it something he bundles with the 31st pick, a roster player or a prospect.

"That’s why that pick at 19 was so important to us," Tambellini said. "We’ve spoken for some time that these are the couple of years where we need to build and acquire elite talent.

"I just don’t want to move up to move up. If our staff, if someone is there and they are extremely passionate about a player who is sitting there, whether it’s two picks up or seven picks up, we’re going to be aggressive to try to move up and get this player, if that player is the right player."

2012 PICK UP FOR GRABS?

Jim Matheson and I asked Tambellini specifically about the possibility of packaging the 19th pick Friday with his first pick in 2012 in an bid to land a second top-five pick. He certainly didn’t shoot the idea down, and I remain convinced it’s a possibility that’s on the table here.

"If you’re doing something in a big deal at the top end of the draft, those things would come into discussion," Tambellini said. "I’ve had a lot of talks with all the teams in the top five or six. I would consider, if it’s the right deal, I’d consider anything."

Like I wrote several days ago, I see Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers as a primary target if Tambellini is swinging for the fences in his pursuit of Larsson. If Tambellini can’t get that done and he’s looking at defensemen Duncan Siemens or Ryan Murphy, my bet is he calls Scott Howson and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who hold the eighth pick.

"I think there would be confidence with our organization," Tambellini said when I asked him if he believes the Oilers will improve enough next season to avoid giving up a lottery pick, should he decide to offer up his first selection in 2012 here.

"But it may not be the same with the other person I’m dealing with. Once you make up your mind it’s a player you really want, you’re going after it. Sometimes the price is lower, sometimes it’s higher, but you’re going to be aggressive to go and get it.

"It’s more on what they think of our organization, what they’re trying to project, not what I’m saying."

THIS AND THAT

— 630 CHED is poised to strike a three-year extension as radio rightsholder for Oilers broadcasts. It’s a package that will see them take Bob Stauffer and his popular Oilers Lunch show away from TEAM 1260 after two years at Astral.

— Jason Gregor and I will be live in Minnesota today and then I’ll get on the sniff this afternoon to see what’s happening. All the schmoozing between GMs will pick up this afternoon and reach its peak tomorrow as everybody rolls into town. I’ll file another item tonight.

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

  • Bucknuck

    I really don’t like the Jim Rome show. I hope they put something Oilersish in the 12-2 slot.

    I will miss stauffer for sure, but I will not listen to ched and have to put up with Dan Tencer pontificating anymore. It gets me irritated.

    EDIT – my favorites are Gregor, Brownlee, I liked Al Stafford (wherever he went), Lowetide, Mr. Campbell (on ched), Stauffer, and Yukon Jack on the Bear. Jack Michaels gets a thumbs down from me because he is far too contained when the Oilers score.
    I miss Rod Phillips

  • Truth

    One more thing. I think many of you are underestimating how hard it is to host a show. I like Brownlee on Gregor’s because he is like an analyst. Carrying a show and being the leader seems much more difficult than being a co-host.

    Is this true Robin?

  • Bucknuck

    Can we have Charles Adler instead of Rome then, please… I am on the record for no Dan Tenser ever on Oiler`s Lunch, and if they ever put Hallsy on, then Ill damn well cry… We should create a petition to keep Hallsy and College Brat off the airways except for the slots I purposely ignore. Those two have there shows and their fans, don`t screw up our show. Hell, if they have to have someone sit in for Stauf, I hope its Rutherford. Can you imagine Rutherford going after MacLean for being a crappy GM, or listen to him make Pierre McGuire cry. Im down with that….

  • Robin,

    Do you think the Oilers want Florida’s #3 pick as much as they tried for Taylor & Tyler last year?

    If the TEAM1260’s looking for new shows, I’d like Sean Pendergast (Cablinasian 5time Smackoff Champion) from 1560thegame in Houston.

    The Jim Rome Show is getting a new producer in the near future, maybe the show can rebound?

    If you miss the “old Jim Rome” all of his good callers, emailers, “tweeters”, are on TravisRodgersNow on sporting news radio.

    @SeanCablinasian @TravisRodgers

    WE SO EXCITE!

  • Florida #3 or Islanders #5?

    With the exception of not using overnight express, Dale Tallon’s not stupid.. I’d prefer to trade for the Islanders #5.

    If the Oilers want Ryan Smyth, why not draft a younger, cheaper, Gabriel Landeskog if he slips to #5? (Couturier/Hamilton) could be there also..

    The price for #3 is probably too much, and the drop off at #8 might not provide elite/immediate return.

    #5 seems just right

  • Oilers take Nugent-Hopkins #1 (like they should):

    Colorado’s probably taking Huberdeau,Larsson,Landeskog…(Huberdeau)

    Florida is taking a forward (Huberdeau,Landeskog,Couturier,Strome)

    NJ might take a defenseman, but I’d gamble they want a forward (Kovalchuk/Parise?) Oh and they don’t exactly draft Swedes…

    Larsson MIGHT actually be available at #5 if the Oilers gamble the Avs pass on him.

    I see more value & less risk trading for #5. Gamble on getting the best defenseman or 2 centers? or one of the guys that slips..

    1 of the Swedes will be there at #5

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I like that 5 spot as well. Whether it can be done in one deal or two deals. Outside of 4,14,91 and that first in 2012 they can have pretty much whatever they want.

    Think Couturier is NHL ready, he’s had his teeth knocked out already.

    • The Farmer

      I think picking at 5 would be good, we get Couturier he can probably play next year or maybe Larsson slips or Hamilton is there.

      Tough call between Landeskog and Hamilton, I would probably go with Couturier and solidify our Centers with RNH and Couturier (Horcoff and Lander) and then move Gagner to wing.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    I miss the Total Sports Bob Stauffer a hell of a lot. Oilers’ Lunch Bob Stauffer ©2011 Katz Group, All Rights Reserved, is not the same guy, and he has, sadly, grown increasingly harder to listen to, offering up little more than a daily Oilermercial. Very sad what’s happened to the TEAM the last couple of years. Unfortunately, CHED are the Yankees of the local radio scene, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. Except to hope that Milhouse accidentally eats some of Stauff’s lunch from the employee fridge one day.

    “STAUFF SMASH PUNY NERD!”

    Have fun at the draft, Robin. Here’s hoping we land RNH and Duncan Siemens in the first round. I’ll be a very happy President in that case.

    As always, if you need bail money, The Nation has your back.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    1260 should have Lowetide three times a week, and move the futurewatch guys from Tues. night to the 12-2 slot twice a week. Ill listen to that in the Stauf slot.

  • The Farmer

    I love listening to Stauffer on 1260, Him and Jack Michaels were on Tencers show the other night, and it was actually ok listening other than stopping for commercial breaks every 38 seconds, and then 23 minutes of every half hour used up talking about Edmonton’s 26th homicide of the week, or whatever other news seems to be pressing enough to repeat on the quarters.

    The remaining 96 seconds were quite enjoyable.

  • O.C.

    Well, I have to say I`m a little surprised that Bob is moving to Chum full time. I really thought that 1260 would make a hard push to acquire the rights to the Oilers. It is how it should be. If I want accurate sports news I definitely do not listen to Chum!If I want up to date and responsible reporting I listen to the experts….just sayin

  • Clyde Frog

    I wouldn’t be sad if they moved Corey Graham and Marlow Weldon into Bob’s slot then did a more call in orientated sports show.

    Bob’s a good guy, but I won’t follow anything to 630 ched… Too much chance of having to listen to that dude that sounds like a lady give product demonstrations over the freaking radio! That and most of their other line-up bores me.

    Also does Stauff’s contract come with some sort of weapon to fight off Brian Hall’s massive hairpiece? If not, we might see him back sooner than later.