LOTTERY WINDFALL: NOW WHAT?

So, with the Edmonton Oilers becoming just the second team in NHL history to own three consecutive first overall picks in the Entry Draft after the balls fell their way Tuesday, will people now be calling for GM Steve Tambellini to follow the "Quebec model?" The Oilers should be so lucky.

The Quebec Nordiques, before they packed up and moved to Denver as the Colorado Avalanche, were the first team to turn the Entry Draft trifecta and the fall-out from that good luck changed the fortunes of both the Nordiques and Philadelphia Flyers for more than a decade.

After taking Mats Sundin first overall in 1989 and Owen Nolan first in 1990, Quebec stepped to the podium with first overall selection in 1991 and took Eric Lindros of the Oshawa Generals, ignoring obvious indications that the highly prized Lindros had no intention of playing in Quebec.

Lindros held true to his word, and the Nordiques dealt his rights before the 1992 Entry Draft to the Philadelphia Flyers for a package that included Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duschene, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon, a first-round pick in 1993 (Jocelyn Thibault) and a first-round pick in 1994 (that eventually became Nolan Baumgartner).

Now, after consecutive 30th-place finishes landed the Oilers Taylor Hall in 2010 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011, Tambellini again holds the No. 1 pick and the right to select, most think, dynamic Russian winger Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting and the possibilities that go with it. What will Tambellini do? What should he do?

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

While critics point out that Tambellini’s main accomplishment as Edmonton GM has been to oversee the Oilers to finishes of 30th, 30th and 29th , thus they don’t have much faith he’ll get it right, the stroke of luck that saw him jump ahead of Columbus in picking order presents a huge opportunity.

Now, in today’s salary cap world and with nobody in the 2012 draft class, including the talented Yakupov, hyped or projected as the generational talent Lindros was coming out of Oshawa (I still have 10 or 12 of his rookie cards for sale if anybody is interested), Tambellini has no chance to trade his pick for the kind of bounty the Nordiques fleeced the Flyers for. Won’t happen.

That said, given the other wants on needs this team has, Tambellini would be a fool not to inform his peers with the 29 other teams in the NHL that he’s willing to entertain offers for the first pick and that he’d like them in hand as soon as possible. Best package wins. Let’s make a deal. That’s a message that should have been sent already. "It presents options," understated Tambellini to open his availability with reporters today.

Those options are many. Darren Dreger of TSN, for example, threw out a theoretical situation today involving the Montreal Canadiens, asking what if the Habs were willing to part with P.K. Subban? I’m guessing that is, or will be, an E5 soon enough. What else is out there? Who wants that pick?

If Tambellini doesn’t get an offer he likes, no worries. He steps to the podium in June and adds Yakupov to Edmonton’s growing talent pool with Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle and sees what happens from there. He can draft Yakupov and then trade him. Maybe Yakupov is a keeper and somebody else goes . . .

Again, Tambellini isn’t going to land the mother lode that sent Colorado on its way to a decade of dominance and the Stanley Cup and Philadelphia the other way, but if he can’t turn Tuesday’s gift from the hockey lottery gods into the turnaround fans of the Oilers have been patiently waiting for, chances are he never will.

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

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    People are saying pick a D-man, it generally takes 4-5 yrs to find out what you have. Why would they waste their # 1 on a D man? Unless there is one of those special players.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    I know everyone is an expert and all that, but if he trades picks with Montreal for Subban that’ll be a pretty good indication Tambellini has no idea what he’s doing. Not sure where all the Subban love is coming from. Hopefully not the Oilers themselves.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Trading down in the draft should not be an option. The team that gets the best player wins the trade, and the drop-off after Yak is substantial in this years draft. So for example Gardiner plus switch picks with Tor. lands us a #4 d-man plus maybe a d-prospect. Dumb idea so you know Stumbelini would be on board.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Honestly, my brother, I would rather trade for Steve Nash or Kevin Nash. I don’t get the love for Nash; do you really think he brings that much to the table?

  • Reg Dunlop

    I just had the chance to read T. Jones’ report on Tambi’s press conference earlier today. He hinted that he is shopping the 1st pick. Being the clueless chucklehead that he is, he begins negotiations by stating “There isn’t the player coming out of this draft who has that kind of impact” refering to Stamkos, Ovechkin and Hall. Way to limit the worth of your asset! If he sells his car I’m sure he says “breaks are good,tires fair”.

  • Draft Yakupov, inform Horcoff he’s giving up number 10 and will now be wearing number 0.1

    Seriously though, the thought of trading away that pick is so asinine it shouldn’t even warrant a discussion. Sure Tambelline has to explore all his options and the team has flexibility and blah, blah, blah

    Unless you were given:

    A number 1 defenseman, a number 1 center/winger, are signed to long term contract’s without no trade clause’s, two high end prospects, Plus that teams first overall pick.

    Then the Oilers can consider that move. Not sure how many teams out there are willing to give that up or have that .

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    i would make that trade,edmonton could use price,and a third pick would work,or maybe edmontons first and thirtyfirst for columbus’s second and eighteenth.edmonton has enough skill they need some size.