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.

  • kelownoil_fan

    the first pick is always the best pick. 🙂

    …thanks for fixing my clarical error. I obviously had a moment of madness or was trying to impress a girl. It won’t happen again. lol

  • kelownoil_fan

    I don’t mean to derail the thread, but I was arguing with someone earlier about the importance of guaranteed contracts, and brought up the short careers and lives of NFL players as an example why people deserve to be properly compensated.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/andy_staples/05/02/junior.seau/?hpt=us_c1

    Junior Seau wasn’t likely to lack for money, but some players who ran into injury trouble were.

  • 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.

    • Wanyes bastard child

      In my opinion the first pick has always got to be BPA every time.

      That being said I was comfortable in the knowledge before the lottery that we would be picking second, winning the lottery has thrown a wrench into the works eh.

  • My guess is Edmonton will pick Yakupov, and are looking to see if they can pick him at the #2 spot. Thereby getting value back for their #1 pick.

    I’m sure they would like to get another pick in the top 10. They are working on it is my guess.

  • Good read Brownlee.

    There is just to much going against trading the pick or not drafting BPA. The Oilers themselves have been down this road one to many times.

    The one true consistent has been Yakupov, the rest of the players in this draft seem to me to be very inconsistent according to the scouts.

    Personally, I think the management group and especially Tambellini’s jobs could potentially be on the line if they mess this up, I think that risk alone is enough to deter them from going away from Yakupov, plus every scout and so called expert telling them that trading that pick would be unwise.

    I do however wonder what it would take to get into the top 5 for a second pick?

    Gagner then who else? The good thing is the Oilers have a lot of tradable assets.

  • 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.

  • bazmagoo

    Have to disagree on the sir around Yakupov. Yakupov was being talked about halfway through his first season as a 16 year old and watched closely all year. Hall and Nuge had a large following as well. I have been following the top 15 in the NHL Entry draft the last 7 years and Yakupov was no different. In fact 90% of all scouts had him touted early as the favourite and some even mention OV’s name occasionally.

    In the end, we never know, but because every year the media eye is following these young players more and more. They get greater attention from the public through twitter, Facebook and youtube not to mention through team websites. You can now follow players or teams across the country via streaming video or at least listen via internet radio

    I find the whole debate quite interesting every year cause truth is….no matter who the #1 favourite is, many will still debate over what their team should do. But as mentioned a few times now, it’s highly likely they pick ‘Yak’ as he is the player most desirable and stands the greatest chance to be a star in the league.

  • bazmagoo

    In the above comments about the future of the team as to the first selection in the entry draft, if Oil fans really have concerns about the health of Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins (and Yakupov) next season, one of the major deficiencies of the present squad is not only the D, but the lack of NHL-calibre players that can protect the backs of our young stars.

    If by some divine intervention the Oilers made the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, our young stars would have been steamrolled into the ice. There would be no fear on the part of the predators (don’t mean the Nashville Predators) over retribution. And the refs surely wouldn’t make any difference.

    With the present rebuild, the team is far out of balance. Too many of the veterans are sub-par and wouldn’t be playing for other teams.

    Just my opinion.

    • bazmagoo

      Personally I think the Oilers let UFA’s hide behind their agents. We are still begging for free agent talent to come here and it’s being taken advantage of. Pro scouting and development still reaks of a desperate ex girlfriend.

      The screening process needs to change somehow or Tambellini needs to take the bullet for it, because the team got hosed on Eager, Belanger, and Barker this season. Not a good result.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Bang on!

      We need to draft a combination of size, skll, and toughness to compliment our speed and skill.

      Deterrent on every line should planned for or we will lead the league in hit sustained injuries.

  • bazmagoo

    Take Yakupov also #9 and 11 are retired haha, so those are off the books, maybe 96 since Bure wore that for a while and Nail idolized him and is why he wears 10
    Not that I’m getting ahead of myself

  • bazmagoo

    I agree with most of the sentiment in the blog and comments. Robyn gave us a solid comparison between the #1 and #2 picks over the last decade plus, which showed us we should be excited for the opportunity that’s been presented to the Oil.

    Wes is definitely right when he says the team won’t be good with Horcoff on the team, that is just good solid hockey instinct.

    I think it was said that the Oilers need to be aggressive with their pursuit of free agent talent this summer. Personally I think we should wait until next off season to be very assertive in the market, this season they may need to do something to appease the young guys. Just can’t see Eberle and Hall wanting to stay unless they are at least respectable next season. 2nd last in the league isn’t going to cut it with those guys. While the organization has the advantage with them being RFA’s, we all know this can’t last forever.

    Give me Shea Weber, Jordan Staal, and one of Mike Smith, John Quick or Lehtonen from the Stars if Dubnyk dosen’t solidify the starting goalie slot next season.

    That’s all I’m asking for, in exchange for being patient one more season. Because then we’d have a great chance for multiple trips to the cup final.

  • bazmagoo

    The Oilers need to take Yakupov, the kid is way too good not to. Most players who have been in the spotlight for as long as he has and being the consensus number one for so long have scouts picking apart their game and finding weaknesses, but I haven’t heard anything coming from scouts that are negative about Yakupov.

    Draft Yakupov so you have 2 elite players on the first and second line. You can’t go wrong with elite scoring depth. Hesmky won’t be here forever and as shown when Hall went down this team is lacking in scoring.

  • stevezie

    I thought the number debate around Hall was stupid, but at least Lowe was retired.

    If you think it’s a good idea for the captain to give his number to a rookie you are out of your mind. Hockey hipster. Drinking kool-aid spiked with new coke.

  • Chris.

    RexLibris wrote:

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

    While I agree with your sentiment; please don’t forget that number 17 was also worn by Hall of Fame Oiler Jari Kurri…

    Edit. So embarrassed. Guess I should drink my coffee before commenting. Props to RexLibris. Negative props to myself.

    *Busy looking up sacrosanct on the internets.*

    • RexLibris

      No worries.

      I found this handy video that perfectly describes the term sacrosanct and Horcoff’s likely approach to Yakupov and the #10 this summer.

      Check it out:

  • stevezie

    Yakupov.Then trade assets to get Griffin Rheinhart or Morgan Reilly. The question I have is do you trade assets to make the pick. Or do you trade for the player after the pick has been made?

  • Chris.

    Oilers need to take Yakupov first overall..moving down gets you a good defensive prospect but oilers have a ton of those, they need a solid proven top four defenceman now..and you dont,trade the number one pick for that because you can find top four defencemen in free agency, college graduates, or through trade (oilers have plenty of assets, dont need to trade first pick)
    Superstars are rare..You do NOT risk losing a superstar especially when you have been gifted the number one through a lottery u weren’t supposed to win.

    Even if oilers can get Suter or Weber, you still dont do it because you wouldnt trade Stamkos, Hall, or Tavares for them would you?
    The chance of Yakupov turning into a superstar like the ones I mentioned is too high to risk it.
    Above all, Yakupov CLEARLY stated he would love to come to edmonton.

    tambellini has been given over three years now to address this teams defence and size issues..if the only way he can fix it is by trading the first overall then he needs to go and never be an NHL gm again.
    I do think he would make a great gm for the okc barons though.

  • TwoSkidoos

    Although the Oilers do have a plethora of young D coming up – none have proven anything at the professional level (aside from Klefbom, but that in itself is another story).

    That being said, the Oil are in a bit of a position of strength in that they can afford to trade one or two of the young D and, by any stroke of luck, keep some that will be eventual players in the NHL.

    With regards to Yakupov, perhaps it is a ruse that the Oilers are downplaying the value of Yakupov to entice other teams to make some offers?

    Smoke and mirrors.

  • Michael: The issue isn’t as simple as the questions you have. The issue is just as much whether the teams that have or are in line to select the players are interested in moving the pick for what you are offering.

    It’s not just about “Should the Oilers trade . . .” They need a dance partner.

    • RexLibris

      Any ideas as to possible partners, Robin?

      Carolina and Minnesota stand out to me if only because they are drafting 8th and 7th, respectively, and the Oilers have a recent history of dealing with them.

      I suppose Winnipeg could be a trade partner but I suspect they would be asking for an asset to provide them with immediate improvement that would set the Oilers back in the short-term and that doesn’t sound like the direction Tambellini wants to go.

      I don’t see what assets the Oilers have that a.) they could afford to part with and b.) would be valued by the other team to the same degree as the pick/prospect that fans would want.

      Maybe we should ask Tillman and Reed if the Oilers should trade down?

      For the record, I absolutely do not want the Oilers trading their 1st round pick for 2013. At deadline day, perhaps.

  • I don’t like it, but I have heard some rumblings through a connected source that the Oilers REALLY like Dumba and Murray, and are looking to find a way to acquire them. Doesn’t make sense to me, but since MBS is a WHL guy it kind of does. For that to happen you would think they would have to move a few D prospects. Can’t logically see it happening.

    Personally I think Reilly Morgan will be a special player and would fit the Oilers “need for speed” model…I think he would have challenged Murray for top D prospect if he had not missed so much time. So he would be my choice.

    That being said I really hope that they hang on to the pick and select Nail. I would like them to move Gagner and the rights to one or 2 of Omark/Peckham/Plante for another 1st rounder if possible.

  • Please Oilers, do not trade the Mercedes for a couple of Hondas. It makes no sense. Take Yakupov and assess from there.

    BPA always! Unless they want another Marc Antoine Pouliot. Speaking of which, anyone notice how Parise is doing these days? Fail…

  • I would like to see the Oil snag another top-ten pick.
    Besides a couple of roster players, I like the idea of shedding next years first round pick.

    Although it would be a ballsy move trading the pick –and could backfire – it would send a clear message to the players and fans that we’ve had enough bottom finishes. Without a first round pick next year, the Oilers would force themselves to move forward with conviction. Strongly symbolic.

    At some point you need to toss off the training wheels and start moving forward on your own.