With the Oilers’ season slipping away, all signs are pointing to another high draft pick. Will adding Nail Yakupov, Mathew Dumba or Filip Forsberg be the key to steering the Oilers back to respectability?
Sadly, the answer is no. The perpetually rebuilding teams of recent years like the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers had an ample stockpile of high draft picks, only to struggle to somewhere below mediocrity year after year. Just like those teams, the Oilers have a number of players who were considered elite at the junior level, the kind of player you would want to build a team around, yet for whatever reason this young talent has not been able to come together as a competitive unit at the NHL level.
The Oilers have a staggering eight players who were selected in the top ten of the NHL Entry Draft. Players drafted this high, with today’s extensive scouting, are considered by most around the league sure bets to make a team better and turn them into a winner. This illustrious list of Oilers taken early in the draft are:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 1st overall in 2011
Taylor Hall: 1st overall in 2010
Cam Barker: 3rd overall in 2004
Sam Gagner: 6th overall in 2007
Ryan Smyth – 6th overall in 1994
Ryan Whitney: 8th overall in 2002
Ladislav Smid: 9th overall in 2004
Magnus Paajarvi: 10th overall in 2009
When nearly half of a team’s roster is drawn from the highest regarded players in the world within their cohort and they still can’t win, one has to question how much benefit adding another talented player to this mix will have. Most coaches and GM’s around the league would salivate over the potential of having so much talent to work with, yet the right results continue evade the Oilers. They are a frustrating team to watch, not because they lose a lot of hockey games, but because of how many quality players they have on their roster that are capable of being the core of a hugely successful team.
If coach Tom Renney can’t get more results out of this group soon, expect the organization to find someone who can. GM Steve Tambellini can’t be happy with how foolish he is being made to look by his team night in and night out.