Making Dubious History
No team since the now defunct Quebec Nordiques have ever recorded this "achievement."
Three first overall picks in the NHL draft in a row. From 1989 on, the Nords drafted Mats Sundin at No. 1, then Owen Nolan the next year, then Eric Lindros. None of the three were actually there, but those three picks helped form the foundation of the Colorado Avalanche squad that won the Stanley Cup in 1996 after moving from Quebec City.
With the introduction of the NHL draft lottery, it seemed the Nords' achievement of three straight No. 1 picks was safe.
Well, maybe not.
The Edmonton Oilers took Taylor Hall first overall two years ago and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins last year, and lo and behold, after a painful 1-0 loss to hardnosed St. Louis on Thursday, the Oilers have sunk to 29th place, just seven points ahead of dreadful, 30th place Columbus.
Suddenly, that third straight first overall selection is in range.
This, of course, was not the way this season was to unfold in the Alberta. The futility of previous years was supposed to give way to, well, at the very least mediocrity, and hopefully a competitive season in which the Oilers would at least be fighting hard to stay in the hunt for a Western Conference playoff berth.
Terrible njuries and woeful team depth have short-circuted that dream, leaving the Oilers once again near the bottom of the entire league.
Dedicated Oilers fans might argue this is still the plan, that adding Nail Yakupov, Filip Forsberg or Mikhail Grigorenko to the mix along with Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle will ultimately result in a fearsome offensive juggernaut.
But when? Surely Edmonton hockey fans have suffered enough. At some point, the pain has to translate into meaningful gain, and that was supposed to be this year.
You have to wonder if Tom Renney is going to be able to be around when the promise turns into reality. Some would argue the same applies to GM Steve Tambellini, and if the Oilers end up with a top five pick, or even the No. 1 pick again, surely this is the year Tambellini needs to find a way to swing a deal, even if it means trading down, to end up with a promising defenceman. This draft is full of them, from Ryan Murray to Jacob Trouba to Matt Finn to Derrick Pouliot, and at some point the Oilers have to try to add a sense of positional balance to their prospect depth chart.
Again, maybe this will benefit the Oilers long term in a way we can only imagine right now.
But this was not supposed to be that kind of season again. But it is.