Edmonton Oilers "earn" right to draft Hall or Seguin

oilers.jpgIt’s been a year of reverse-milestones for the Edmonton Oilers, with such anti-accomplishments as becoming the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. In failing to achieve, though, at least they were so “committed to that goal” that they now are guaranteed one of the top two spots in the upcoming entry draft.

Barring some kind of NHL combine shakeup or other scouting catastrophe, that means that the team will likely get to choose one of the much-ballyhooed Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. The Edmonton Journal explains what clinching the league’s lowest record means in terms of its draft impact.

Edmonton can’t catch Toronto or anybody else, which means they will have a 48.2-per-cent shot at getting first pick in the June entry draft.

The second-worst team has an 18.8-per-cent chance to win the lottery, so the Oilers’ odds of getting the correct bingo ball is substantial.

The Oilers can only fall to No. 2 — even if somebody else wins the lottery at the draw in New York. They will get either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, the top prospects who face off in Round 2 of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs starting on Thursday night in Windsor.

If it makes the beaten down Oilers fans out there feel better, I think that the team has some reasons for optimism.

For one thing, the team has some interesting prospects. Obviously, the Oilers will add a blue chip talent in Seguin or Hall. If you watched the World Junior Championships, Jordan Eberle had to stand out as an impressive playmaker for silver medal winner Team Canada. That’s not a bad start, right?

While Nikolai Khabibulin isn’t getting any younger, the team has been incredibly unlucky with injuries this season. Surely the team will be stronger if their best winger Ales Hemsky can rebound from an injury that ended his season. Dustin Penner also seems like he’s justifying some of the headaches that came with signing him to a controversial offer sheet. And, naturally, there’s always the dream of adding aging star Jaromir Jagr now that his KHL contract is set to expire.

Don’t get me wrong, the Oilers are still “in the woods.” Yet for a fan base that hasn’t had much to cheer about since Chris Pronger left for the Ducks, at least there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.

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    Bruins’ second line officially goes under the microscope

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    While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.

    Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:

    Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronLoui Eriksson
    Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
    Jimmy HayesRyan SpoonerBrett Connolly
    Chris KellyJoonas KemppainenZac Rinaldo

    The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.

    So, where is Krejci’s game now?

    Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.

    So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?

    On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.

    So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?

    “It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”

    Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


    Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

    Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

    This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

    “I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

    While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

    And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

    Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

    In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

    Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks