Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Oilers beat out Bruins for No. 1 pick
ESPN.com news services
TORONTO -- After finishing with a league-low 62 points, the Edmonton Oilers have won the NHL draft lottery for the first overall pick.
Boston, the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, will pick second in the June 25-26 draft after acquiring Toronto's first-round pick in an offseason trade that sent Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs.
The Oilers (27-47-8) came into the annual lottery Tuesday with a 25 percent chance of securing the top pick and will select first for the first time.
Florida will select third, followed by Columbus and the New York Islanders -- who picked first in 2009. Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, Minnesota and the New York Rangers round out the top 10.
Barring a trade, the Oilers will become the first Canadian team to select first since 1996, when Ottawa chose defenseman Chris Phillips.
"It's such an important step for us to have the ability to take the first overall pick, especially where we are with our cycle of development," Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said. "We're more into a reshaping, a rebuilding mode right now. Everybody's clear about that. This will be a wonderful building block to add on to some of the other draft choices we have in place now."
While acknowledging he would listen to trade offers, Tambellini said he was inclined to keep the pick.
"I'm sure there's lots of teams that have ideas how to make our team better," he said. "I always have to listen. ... We're focused right now on the No. 1 pick. For us to move that pick at this point, I can't think of what it would have to be."
If the Oilers keep the selection, they will likely choose between Ontario Hockey League stars Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. The two ended up tied atop the league's scoring race with 106 points, with Seguin claiming the scoring title after finishing with 48 goals to Hall's 40.
Both Hall and Seguin are expected to contribute right away, meaning whichever player isn't selected by Edmonton is almost certain to end up in Boston.
"It's an immediate impact that people get to see and it's exciting," Tambellini told TSN. "The attention and the pressure with this player that comes to Edmonton is obvious, but that's part of the decision-making process also. Can this person handle being the first pick overall?"
The Bruins' pick will be the highest for the franchise since it made Joe Thornton the No. 1 overall selection in 1997. When GM Peter Chiarelli sent Kessel to Toronto in September, he never imagined he'd find himself in position to land either Hall or Seguin.
"No, not really," Chiarelli said. "We had a range in mind, we had to choose between the Leafs and a couple other teams, and we kind of had a range in mind. But not this high, no."
The Oilers scored just 206 goals this season, fourth-fewest in the league. Aside from Dustin Penner (32 goals) no other Edmonton player had more than 17.
After trading away their 2008-09 goals leader in Kessel -- and losing playmaker Marc Savard for half the year to a concussion -- the Bruins finished last in the NHL with 196 goals. A strong defense and solid goaltending helped Boston get into the playoffs.
Balls representing the 14 teams that failed to make the playoffs were in play, and only one was selected. The winner could move up a maximum of four positions, so only the bottom five teams in the league standings had a shot at the top pick.
Edmonton's victory continued the recent trend of last-place teams winning the draft lottery. St. Louis Blues used the No. 1 pick to select defenseman Erik Johnson in 2006, Tampa Bay selected Steven Stamkos first overall in 2008 and the Islanders chose John Tavares with the top pick last year.
The draft will be held in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.