I am here to tell you that the only way the Edmonton Oilers pick first is in a "Chicago gets Kane" style lottery upset.
Back in October, I suggested that the Oilers would finish 13th in the west, 27th overall in the NHL standings for 11-12. Currently Edmonton is 14th in the conference and 29th overall:
- 30th Columbus 32 points in 49 games
- 29th Edmonton 41 points in 49 games
- 28th Anaheim 43 points in 48 games
- 27th Carolina 45 points in 51 games
- 26th Buffalo 45 points in 49 games
- 25th NYI 45 points in 48 games
- 24th TBay 46 points in 48 games
- 23rd Montreal 47 points in 49 games
The Oilers are a team that has battled major injuries for the last month, but unlike previous seasons their injured guys are coming back. Jordan Eberle is already back in action, Taylor Hall is wheeling again, RNH is soon off the IR and Ryan Whitney–80% of Ryan Whitney–is helping on the back end. Perhaps as important as anyone based on depth, Tom Gilbert’s time away has had a major impact on this team.
I do a lot of driving in my job, and Jason Gregor keeps me company with his terrific show. This week, I damn near drove off the road when hearing that Carolina plans on trading every useful defensemen they employ.
Which is my point.
WHAT’S YOUR POINT?
My point is that the Oilers have a lot of reasons to compete after the deadline and that the Hurricanes (and others) are going to be offloading talent. Edmonton may or may not trade Ales Hemsky, but either way should be more competitive than they were during January.
I stand by my prediction (13th/27th) and the Oilers could win the lottery, but my guess is that Steve Tambellini and Tom Renney will want to push through last season’s 62 points and 25-45-12 overall record. They are currently 18-26-5 and on a 69 point trajectory. I think they’ll want to push that number north, and some of the basement teams are likely going to make it possible with their deadline deals.
WHAT ELSE DOES IT MEAN?
I’d bet the Oilers will be picking outside the top 2 and will select one of Ryan Murray, Matt Dumba or Griffin Reinhart. PS, Chris Cuthbert has a nice article up on the 11-12 rookies and has some nice things to say about RNH here.