Times are hard getting harder
I'm born to lose and destined to fail
--"Ball and Chain", Mike Ness, Social Distortion
Tonight is the night that will determine the fate of the Oilers for the next 15 years. Or something. The NHL Lottery announcement comes tonight on Versus, TSN and NHL.com at 8 P.M. The Oilers have the best chance to win the first overall pick, as per NHL.com:
The Oilers go into Tuesday's drawing with a 25 percent chance of winning the Lottery. And if a team outside the bottom five in the standings wins the Lottery, the Oilers will get the top choice, improving their odds to 48.2 percent.
The team with the fewest points in the League has won the Draft Lottery the last two years. League rules also dictate that no team can move backward more than one spot, so the Oilers will have at least the first or second pick.
The draft is a two-horse race between Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall. Central Scouting says Seguin, Bob McKenzie of TSN says Taylor Hall. I've not read an account of a single scout that has anyone but Seguin and Hall in the top two and after them is a bit of a falloff to number three. So it's in this context that the Oilers have to make a selection. They can't draft worse than second and according to the scouts, a nifty consolation prize awaits.
The Oilers are 48.2% to win the first pick and 51.8% for the second pick. Mark me down for hoping that the Oilers end up with the second-overall pick. Why would a real fan wish for that you ask? Well, since the summer of 2006, nearly everything the Oilers have laid their collective hands on has turned out very, very bad. I'm not going to rehash all of it, because we do that here on a regular basis, but the fact is, this team has a group of very poor decision makers from the President through the General Manager through the Assistant General Manager to the Vice President of Communications to the Head Coach. As a group, there have been no worse decision-makers in the NHL in the last three years. Individually, each of them has more black marks on their resumes than anyone not currently manning Sportsnet's expert panel. Give them a multiple choice test, they fail. Ask them to flip a coin, they call "edge". Give them a yes or no question and they answer "asset". They come to a fork in the road and drive off of a cliff.
Should the Oilers win the first overall pick, it's this group of men that are in charge of making the selection at the Podium in June. And that should send a shiver down everyone's spine, at least those that aren't already shivering because of Ryan Whitney. I understand the excitement around having the first pick, but even the greatest optimist among us can't deny the fact that this is a management team that could, and most likely will, screw up with the first pick. Even if they make the right pick, this crew will turn that pick into Jason Bonsignore during the development process.
Taking that first pick out of their hands would be the best way to guarantee that things go well. If Boston takes Seguin, Edmonton gets Hall and the rest is history. If Columbus gets Hall, the Oilers take Seguin and everyone goes home happy. There is no going back to criticize the pick, there is nothing to analyze - their hands are forced and the pick is brainless. There is nothing to screw up, there are no assets to collect, there are no trades to make. There are no tough decisions to make, and this management team has been choking on tough decisions for four years.
I've read in a number of places that getting the first overall pick would showcase the new decision-making ability of Steve Tambellini and prove to the fans he knows what he's doing. I've seen what this group is capable of - I don't want more proof. I don't need a showcase.
Here's to the puck (or ping pong ball) once again bouncing the wrong way for the Oilers and losing the draft lottery. It will be easier on everyone.