Polls: Tell Edmonton what to do with third No. 1 pick


In a development that must give a lot of mediocrity-haters a case of bitter beer face, the Edmonton Oilers won the 2012 draft lottery. That allowed the NHL’s second worst team to get the top pick, which really isn’t that bad – but getting the No. 1 choice three years in a row is.

Still, there’s nothing that the disapproving masses can do other than gripe on Twitter. As fun as that might be, the more intriguing questions revolve around what the Oilers should do next.

Should they even keep the pick?

When asked what he’ll do with the No. 1 pick shortly after the Oilers were announced as winners, GM Steve Tambellini was noncommittal about whether he would use it or trade the selection for a more immediate bit of help. Considering Edmonton’s lack of recent results, it wouldn’t be that crazy to imagine Tambellini moving the pick to improve the present at some expense to the future – especially if his job is in some danger.

One can imagine all sorts of scenarios. Edmonton might take advantage of a solid overall draft by swapping a little quality for quantity. Then again, maybe they could offer the spurned Columbus Blue Jackets the No. 1 choice as part of a package for that Rick Nash fella we keep hearing about.

To start things off, let us know if the Oilers should even keep the No. 1 choice.

(Note: it’s technically possible that Edmonton could trade for a roster player and picks, but just consider those choices the “focal point” of a deal.)

Who should they draft?

OK, so let’s assume the Oilers follow the script and use that pick. Who should they go after? Choose from Central Scouting’s top 15 or write in a prospect of your own in the poll below (positions listed in parenthesis):

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen