Oilers win NHL Draft Lottery, will select number one overall

The Edmonton Oilers defied the odds and will again add to their abundant pool of young talent with their third number one draft pick in a row at this June’s NHL Entry Draft.

“I guess if you’re in the lottery and you come here you might as well win it,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. “I feel really excited about the fact that now another young talent hopefully at the level of what the past few picks have been (is coming).”

The Oilers secured the number one pick in tonight’s NHL Draft Lottery where the team had an 18.8 percent chance of winning the number one pick. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who finished last in the league with  65 points, failed to garner the number one selection through the lottery despite a 48 percent chance of winning the number one pick.

Columbus will settle for the number two selection instead.

“We’re disappointed, but this draft is challenging,” said Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson. “I know we’re going to get a really good player at No. 2 … It’s really a good chance for us to move our franchise forward in a positive direction.”

It is generally believed that Sarnia Sting forward  Nail Yakupov will be taken number one overall, but after that the field seems wide open with the possibility of several intriguing options being selected after Yakupov. At 5’11 and 190 pounds, the 18-year-old Sting forward finished this past season in the OHL with 31 goals and 38 assists in 42 games. Yakupov tallied 49 goals and 101 points last season in 65 games.

“Yakupov is an extremely talented, emotional, explosive player,” Tambellini said. “He’s very, very, top-end talent.”

Columbus will pick second behind the Oilers with the Canadiens, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs following suite.

“You look at this pick and you look at the number of top five picks — and certainly No. 3 picks — that have good impacts on teams over the years and there’s quite a few of them,” said Canadiens assistant general manager Larry Carriere. “We’re pretty excited and looking forward to having a real good young player.”

The Oilers selected forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from the Red Deer Rebels first overall at last year’s draft. The team chose Taylor Hall first overall the year before. Hall and Nugent-Hopkins finished second and third on the team this season in total points with 53 and 52 respectively. The team also employs young talent like Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagne and Magnus Paajarvi.

“The nice part of being where we are is that we’re coming into a phase where it does present options and we don’t need a player necessarily to play right away but can talk about whether or not we need to have a forward or defenseman,” Tambellini said. “We have time to dig and find out why this player is going to be No. 1.”

The 2012 NHL Entry Draft will take place June 22 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

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