LOOKING OUT FOR NO. 1

How big a break did the Edmonton Oilers get by winning the lottery for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and the right to make their third consecutive first overall pick by snatching it from the Columbus Blue Jackets? Very big.

At least that’s what the last 12 years of the Entry Draft tells us when we look at the last dozen players taken first overall compared to the last 12 players taken second, just one selection later, since 2000.

In 2011, the Oilers took Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first pick and he didn’t disappoint, scoring 18-34-52 despite missing 20 games with a shoulder injury. That left Nugent-Hopkins tied in scoring with Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, who had 22-30-52 in 82 games. Both are Calder Trophy finalists. Who got the better player? Too early to tell.

In 2010, the Oilers claimed two-time Memorial Cup MVP Taylor Hall with the first overall pick. Despite two seasons shortened by injury, the dynamic Hall has scored 49-46-95 in 126 games. Not a lot of argument Hall looks like a franchise cornerstone, if he can stay healthy.

The Boston Bruins, meanwhile, happily took Tyler Seguin with the second overall pick in 2010. After being brought along slowly as a rookie, Seguin completed his second season with 40-49-89 in 155 games. Who’ll have the better career? Again, it’s too early to know.

That said, when you look at the previous 10 years of the Entry Draft, the advantage of picking first overall compared to second is, to understate, significant, at least the way I see it.

While you’d have a great start on building a perennial Stanley Cup contender with either group of players taken with those two picks over the last decade, I know which group I’d go with.

WITH THE FIRST PICK . . .

Following are the players taken first overall since 2000 along with games played, goals, assists and points (or GP, career goals-against average and saves percentage for goaltenders).

2009 NYI John Tavares 243 84-118-202

2008 TB Steven Stamkos 325 179-150-329

2007 CHI Patrick Kane 399 126-243-369

2006 STL Erik Johnson 298 27-100-127

2005 PIT Sidney Crosby 434 223-386-609

2004 WSH Alex Ovechkin 553 339-340-679

2003 PIT Marc-Andre Fleury 434 2.68 .909

2002 CBJ Rick Nash 674 289-258-547

2001 ATL Ilya Kovalchuk 779 406-379-785

2000 Rick DiPietro 315 2.86 .903

WITH THE SECOND PICK . . .

2009 TB Victor Hedman 214 12-52-69

2008 LA Drew Doughty 316 43-119-162

2007 James VanRiemsdyk 196 47-52-99

2006 PIT Jordan Staal 431 120-128-248

2005 ANA Bobby Ryan 332 136-123-259

2004 PIT Evgeni Malkin 427 208-319-527

2003 CAR Eric Staal 642 250-324-574

2002 ATL Kari Lehtonen 344 2.71 .914

2001 OTT Jason Spezza 606 226-390-616

2000 ATL Dany Heatley 751 349-393-742

THE BOTTOM LINE

— Obviously, injuries, quality of teammates and opportunity factors heavily into the results of the players taken over the past decade, but, as a group, the first overall picks are clearly superior to the second picks 2000-2009, at least by the numbers and the impact they’ve had as NHL players.

— The way I see it, Jordan Staal (2006) and Dany Heatley (2000) are the only second picks who are clearly superior to the players taken first overall in their respective draft years: Johnson (2006) and DiPietro (2000).

— Does the last decade of the draft mean the Oilers will select the player who goes on to have the best career this June with their third consecutive first overall pick? Not necessarily, but probably.

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

  • So when the Oilers play the “we’re smarter than everyone else” card and trade down, you’ll be onside with burning Tambellini and Lowe in effigy?

    Everyone has Yakupov #1…except the Oilers.

    I have a bad feeling about this.

    • BigE91

      Really, you want a player with over 10 years in the league, who is also his teams captain to turn his number over to a rookie? Whether he is can’t miss or not the stir around Yakupov isn’t the same as it was with Hall or RNH.

      Personally, I would rather see the Oil use the pick to begin addressing the needs on defense. Via trade or by taking an NHL ready Ryan Murray whatever they do this team isn’t going to challenge for the playoffs without vast improvement on the blue.

      • Yes I do believe Yakupov should be wearing number ten. I also think Horcoff shouldn’t be here next year if the Oilers are serious about getting better.

        As for Murray, he maybe good two to four years from now, how long do you think Eberle, RNH and Hall are going to wait until this team gets better?

        The Oilers can find defensmen via UFA and trade, that’s why building assets for the last three years becomes an advantage, you always take BPA.

  • Your D doesn’t have to be very good if your forwards are ripping it up. Besides, we have enough cap room to Horcoff™ pretty much any D-man available this summer. Oilers would have to be idiots not to select BPA. IDIOTS I TELL YOU.

  • RexLibris

    Horcoff won’t be here forever, Yakupov could take the #10 after he leaves. Until then, patience grasshopper.

    He may have a tough time picking another number. 11 (+1), 9 (-1), 17 (Kharlamov) are all sacrosanct.

    The last thing this team needs is another defenseman in the first two rounds of the draft. The Oilers have so many graduating junior that they are going to have trouble signing them all before June 1st.

    I’m not even convinced that they need to move anyone for another 1st round pick this year.

    New Jersey will almost certainly be picking this year to forfeit their 1st round pick in the Kovalchuk penalty. That means that the Oiler’s 2nd round pick will likely move from 32nd overall to 31st. Jacob Markstrom, Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Pitlick, David Musil were all early 2nd round picks.

    Theo Peckham and a 3rd round pick might buy an extra 2nd rounder from the right team and MacGregor has found some great draft-day deals in round two.

    As for round one, draft Yakupov. Four of the top six are set and the forward corps is the envy of the league. Use that to attract fee agents who want to win and will sign for a reasonable amount, retain your draft picks and scout well and you can build a dominant, stable team for over a decade.