ST. PAUL, Minnesota — One Ryan or two? Maybe none?
Those are the two obvious storylines for the Edmonton Oilers heading into the 2011 NHL Entry Draft today and Jason Gregor and I are going to be all over them as the answers unfold at the Xcel Energy Center.
Will the Oilers use their second consecutive first overall pick to select centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels? That’s the shot we’ve been calling here are Oilersnation for weeks now, and despite some speculation that’s in doubt, it’s the likeliest bet.
The second storyline, one that’s developed rapidly in recent days, is the buzz that Ryan Smyth of the Los Angeles Kings has let it be known he’d like to return to Edmonton. That’s a wish Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi has indicated he will try to accommodate — perhaps as early as today.
Might the Oilers leave the draft floor today with both Nugent-Hopkins and Smyth in the fold? We’ll be on top of that, as well as tracking GM Steve Tambellini’s stated efforts to move up and get a second high pick in the first round, as the day unfolds.
I’ll be talking to scouts and GMs on the floor at the Xcel Energy Centre and keeping tabs with beat writers from other cities as the proceedings begin today and I’ll be posting regular updates starting at about 3 p.m. Edmonton time, so check back regularly.
AS IT HAPPENS . . .
— 12:45: We’re hearing, and TSN is reporting on its website, that Winnipeg has been received permission from the NHl to reinstate the name Jets for next season. The question now, did the Winnipeg group anticipate this and will they have a Jets hat and jersey for whoever they take with the seventh selection?
— 1:02: Smyth to Calgary rumours rampant, as per Gord Miller etc., but no confirmation on a deal yet.
— 1:04: As per Stauffer: Oilers scouting staff said to be unanimous on taking Nugent-Hopkins.
— 4:01: TSN will have a shot of the top prospects, including Nugent-Hopkins, casually strolling into the Xcel Energy Center together as part of their coverage today. I know this because I watched them set it up . . .
— 4:50: Time flies. Just ran into Harold Snepsts, who was one of my favourite players during his days with the Vancouver Canucks. For all my travels around the NHL, I haven’t seen old Hammerin’ Harry in 20 years. He’s sporting the shaved dome now and has to be pushing 60 years old. Tough SOB back in the day.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.