The 2003 Entry Draft - A Tale of Fortune and Woe

In 2003 the Florida Panthers held the #1 pick in the draft. Already rich in goal with Bobby Lou, they got clever and made a complex trade with Pittsburgh that saw them flip the pick along with what would eventually be Daniel Carcillo for the 3rd overall pick and Mikael Samuelsson. In hindsight, this wasn't all that bad a trade. But if FLA were to have to chance to do it all over again, they might've operated differently.

Darren Dreger suggested yesterday that the Oilers might be looking to do the same thing. If you're like me you're lukewarm on both RNH and Larsson, and see an opportunity to add a greater volume of assets given our position. But what is the value that a #1 pick holds over a #4 or #5 pick, and is it worth it to degrade our return in favour of quantity over perceived quality?

The 2003 draft might be looked upon as an event that catapulted the Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers into perennial playoff teams, and likewise has kept the Oilers, Panthers, and Blue Jackets swimming in the NHL toilet. I won't bore you with the details, but when you can draft 2/3 of the next decade's top line at #19 and #28 overall, someone powerful is smiling down on you.

The 2011 draft isn't nearly as stocked with generational talent. For all their strenghts, RNH is small, Larsson doesn't possess overwhelming offensive skill, and Sean Couturier may be the second coming of Chris Gratton. Assuming that you can fetch a quality C in Huberdeau or Strome at 5 or 6, what is a good trade that we might seek with the NYI or Ottawa to want to make this deal work?

In hindsight, given the depth of the '03 draft, FLA might've well considered trading their #1 to a team that could offer them a multitude of picks within that draft. Let's say that Philadephia had managed to acquire another mid-first round pick, FLA might've traded one pick for three, and we might've stocked our playoff pools with Panthers over the past couple of days.

Since 2011 doesn't seem to offer the same cachet, the Oilers should seek HIGH QUALITY prospects in return for the #1 pick. An exchange that nets them another second rounder, or someone destined to not be a top-6 forward or top-3 dman isn't worth the risk.

Example of a bad trade - Oilers swap picks with NYI, and also trade a 3rd rounder but get C Josh Bailey. Although he's young and the Oilers need a C, Bailey isn't a compelling enough talent to deal away a sure-thing like the 'Nuge.

Example of a good trade - Oilers swap picks with NYI, and also toss in their King's pick for Nino Nightrider (sp)? We'll still end up with a high quality C or with Dougie Hamilton, and another smash-mouth SOB top-6 winger.

The difference between the two is that the Oilers obtain an asset with a much higher chance of becoming a game-breaking player as compensation for moving down in the draft. Who knows, given that the Isles have found a gem in Grabner and given that they're likely lusting after a D-man like Larsson, this might be feasible.

Looking back on this draft, someone much talked-about will end up as the Nik Zherdev of this class ... although i doubt that player is RNH, Larsson, or Landeskog, there is a great opportunity to leverage our position to add several key assets to the re-build, but a huge risk in ending up with nothing if ST gets too excited over a lustrous object named Jared Cowen. I guess we'll see.

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