Looking out for number one

Robin Brownlee
January 18 2010 03:44PM

Back in 1970 when the Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL, it didn't really matter that they were destined to stink like rank limburger for seasons on end because fans like me were thrilled just to have a team.

As fans, we accepted the simple fact we'd have to make due with cheering for cast-offs from other teams like Andre Boudrias, Wayne Maki, Rosaire Paiement and a big defenceman named Pat Quinn while opponents kicked the Canucks teeth in some nights and beat them for fun on others.

Back then -- as is the case with NHL expansion teams of any era -- it was understood it would take time for the Canucks to compete and that slowly, by building through the draft and stockpiling talent, things would get better. At least that was the plan.

Of course, Vancouver fans got reminded right out of the gate there are no guarantees in the draft and that, for example, there can and often is a huge difference between having the first pick and the second.

In 1970, the Buffalo Sabres, who entered the NHL the same season as the Canucks, got the first pick in what was called the Amateur Draft thanks to the spin of a wheel. They used it to select Gilbert Perreault. The Canucks picked second and took Dale Tallon.

Scarred for life by that unfortunate outcome before I was even a teenager, and more than a decade before I started writing about hockey for a living, it doesn't take a lot of arm-twisting to convince me that picking first is better than picking second.

Thus, I don't give a whiz if Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and Cam Fowler are rated neck-and-neck going into the 2010 Entry Draft. If the Edmonton Oilers are going to stink badly enough to be a lottery team, and that's a gimme, then it makes sense they finish 30th in the Dive For Five, giving themselves the best chance to pick first.

Tallon. F*ck me.

Wait a second

Now, I get it that teams have whiffed completely with the first pick in the Entry Draft. Likewise with the second and the third pick, the fourth and the fifth, etc. History also shows teams picking second or third or even fourth or fifth have ended up with better players than the team picking first.

That accepted, and still shuddering every time I think of Perreault shoving it up the backsides of Vancouver fans on the way to the Hall of Fame with 1,326 points in 1,191 games, if the Oilers are going to do this DFF thing right, then I want them on greased skids from now until April.

Just looking back 20 years to 1989, and without even taking into account the last four drafts, there's plenty of examples of the contrast between picking first and second.

  • 2005: The Pittsburgh Penguins picked Sidney Crosby, who has played 335 games, has tallied 159-291-450 and has a Stanley Cup ring. The Anaheim Ducks picked second and selected Bobby Ryan, who has 56-47-103 in 133 games. Crosby will be a HOFer. Ryan is a good, young player.
  • 2002: The Columbus Blue Jackets picked Rick Nash first, while Atlanta took goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Nash is a franchise player with 213-183-396 in 488 games despite having next-to-nothing in terms of offensive support on mostly bad teams. Lehtonen, often injured, is not.
  • 1998: Tampa Bay selected Vincent Lecavalier first, while Nashville picked second and took David Legwand. Lecavalier has 312-397-709 in 831 games and a Stanley Cup ring. Legwand has been a journeyman.
  • 1996: Ottawa took Chris Phillips from the Prince Albert Raiders with the first pick, while San Jose took Andrei Zyuzin. Phillips has played more than 800 NHL games, all with the Senators, and has been a solid top-four guy. Zyuzin played 496 games in parts of 10 seasons. Who remembers him?
  • 1991: The Quebec Nordiques took Eric Lindros first overall, then flipped him to Philadelphia for Peter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Philadelphia's 1st round choice (Jocelyn Thibault) in the 1993 Entry Draft, $15,000,000 and future considerations. San Jose took Pat Falloon, who never came close to living up to the pick in 575 NHL games, including a stint with the Oilers.
  • 1989: Quebec used the first pick to take Mats Sundin, who played 1,346 games and had 1,349 points. The New York Islanders took Dave Chyzowski with the second pick. Chyzowski finished 1,318 points back of Sundin with 31 points in 126 games.

Getting it right

The Sabres got it right with the first pick in 1970 and made it to the playoffs in their third season and the Stanley Cup final in their fifth campaign. Starting with the year they reached the Cup Final, the Sabres had at least 100 points if five of the next six seasons.

The Canucks got it wrong with the second pick and didn't win more than 24 games in their first four seasons. They missed the playoffs in six of their first eight seasons and were knocked out in the first round the two years they did make the post-season.

I said it before and I'll say it again, the DFF should be primarily about clearing cap space and freeing up options for GM Steve Tambellini. Landing a blue-chip prospect like Hall, Seguin or Fowler should be an aside.

That said, the importance of getting it right at the 2010 Entry Draft and adding that pick to strong drafts that have landed the Oilers Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson is significant.

In that context, even allowing that Hall, Seguin and Fowler could all be hits, misses or a combination, there's something to be said for taking the first swing at the podium next June.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
Avatar
#51 dragon
January 18 2010, 09:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

silver-lining:

Calgary down by 6 only after 2 period. and with Kipper in net.

I just love when Flames suck. sorry Ross...

Avatar
#52 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 18 2010, 09:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

im surprised willis doesnt have the post game report up yet. all he has to do is copy and paste from the last 15 games...

Avatar
#53 dragon
January 18 2010, 09:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

im surprised willis doesnt have the post game report up yet. all he has to do is copy and paste from the last 15 games...

lol

he got tired of repeating the same bull over-and-over again.

Avatar
#54 Crash
January 18 2010, 10:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
dragon wrote:

silver-lining:

Calgary down by 6 only after 2 period. and with Kipper in net.

I just love when Flames suck. sorry Ross...

LOL, Regehr and Phaneuf are useless...especially Regehr

7-0 Sharks

Avatar
#55 tom
January 18 2010, 10:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin,

Next time you have the opportunity to chat with Patrick Laforge ask him for the Pay Per View viewership for the Colorado game on the 18th of January. I am a season ticket holder and have too much invested to not go to a game, I would think that the pay per view numbers would be the best metric for fan apathy.

Avatar
#56 Sandra
January 18 2010, 10:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Tambilini's excuse for not giving out the plan for fear of players not giving it thier all? I guess the vets missed his speach to the room. What a patheticly run organization.

Avatar
#57 Oilchange64
January 18 2010, 10:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Besides "Dive for Five" no positive spin possible now. This is not "losing productively", it is just plain sucking. I truly fear the upcoming end of football season. I just promised my wife I would do some renovations.

Avatar
#58 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 18 2010, 10:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Sandra

The young guys were good?

Avatar
#59 Quintana
January 18 2010, 10:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Seguin is looking better tha Hall!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDc2mnS48ng

Avatar
#60 Slats
January 18 2010, 10:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Is it just me or does anyone else think it was funny that the first 25 posts were debating whether picking first may not better as picking 2nd or 3rd??? WTF?

A yeah it's better there is more players and you get first choice. . .

DFF

Avatar
#61 Slats
January 18 2010, 10:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

9-1 - I love it!

. . .and the Non-Olympians Dion -4 Rocket Robin -3

I can see the steam pouring out of Sutter's ears. And his comment to the equip guys to put away the pucks for tomorrow's practice!

Avatar
#62 Wanye
January 18 2010, 11:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I don't even care what happens on the ice. As long as the Oilers PPV broadcasts keep showing that riveting interview with Silent Bob I'll keep forking over the dough.

*swoon*

Avatar
#63 Sandra
January 18 2010, 11:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

better than Souray and Moreau, the team leaders.

Avatar
#64 Robin Brownlee
January 18 2010, 11:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
tom wrote:

Robin,

Next time you have the opportunity to chat with Patrick Laforge ask him for the Pay Per View viewership for the Colorado game on the 18th of January. I am a season ticket holder and have too much invested to not go to a game, I would think that the pay per view numbers would be the best metric for fan apathy.

I would, but anytime a reporter even approaches a member of Oilers management they start to back up the other way without ever taking their eyes off you -- kind of like a postie that bumps into a rabid pitbull.

Avatar
#65 Reagan
January 19 2010, 07:12AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Speaking of that arrogant bag of pucks Laforge. His head is so far up his own A$$, I don't think he has had a decent breath of fresh air in the last two years. His giant brain fart to push this arena on fans will land him next to Bob the shopping cart guy on 118th ave. Frankly he is part of the problem here in Edmonton and not part of the solution. Only if Katz and Lowe could see this. I find it kind of funny that my Season ticket questionaire came early this year in regards to a series of team matters. The biggest being the arena. I have no issue with the arena, but at the same token I said no because it smelt of that two-faced bald headed stink suit Laforge. Typical Oilers fashion, the questionaire did not ask more than a few questions regarding Oilers Brass, so I saved my commnets section for 1.5 pages of dribble on how the upper section of the Oilers brass needed and Oil change. Not a quicklube or Lubex change but a dealership rape you + filter. So who enjoyed the PPV? Probably Laforge...

Don't get me wrong I bleed Copper and Blue and really excited that the Oilers might get a Superstar at this years draft. I am also excited that MPS and Eberle are coming next year. However with all of the crap that we as Oilers fans have seen in the last two years, I can't help thinking that there still will be more dissappointment from Management and this future team. It's 7am and I need a Coffee.

Avatar
#66 DangerMan
January 19 2010, 08:08AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I fully expect that at this upcoming draft that the oilers proudly select with the first overall pick, Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings. And then Bettman give the long glare, and bellow out, STOOPID!, YOU'RE So STOOPID!

BTW, classic UHF clip.

Avatar
#67 swany
January 19 2010, 09:45AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Robin Brownlee wrote:

I would, but anytime a reporter even approaches a member of Oilers management they start to back up the other way without ever taking their eyes off you -- kind of like a postie that bumps into a rabid pitbull.

Kinda like a dear in the headlights, they must be scared of you RB, Maybe try and take some cookies or brownies next time get them all hyped up on sugar like a little kid then maybe they will spill the beans.

Avatar
#68 Sandra
January 19 2010, 11:13AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Why not pick up Sykora off of waivers and put Captain Moreau on waivers, the way he is playing he has no trade value anyways. Maybe someone will give Laforge some wax for hi head for him.

Avatar
#69 Westcoastoil
January 19 2010, 01:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I get that Hall had great exposure because of the WJ's but if you look at the Oilers' organization (I feel kind of dirty just putting those words together) they're better of taking a centre than a winger. Particularly in this case where there is little to choose between Hall and Seguin. If anything Seguin might be the better prospect, but Hall at this point has significantly more games played. If you expect a top 3 pick today can make the jump to the NHL as either an 18 or 19 year old & then look at Penner, Hemsky, Eberle, MPS and compare to our centre position, I think the obvious pick is Seguin.

As good as Gagne is, I'm not convinced he's going to he a franchise centre. We need one and the opportunity to get one shouldn't be passed over.

Avatar
#70 quicksilver ballet
January 19 2010, 03:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'd rather not leave it to chance or hope. Besides, Tambellini has a proven track record of, er, nevermind . . .

Have to say that reading through this thread was just what i needed on this day, everyone's stoning the Oilers.... don't get me wrong guys i care what happens with our Oilers. It's like watching an old boat (car) chugging down the QE II, we all know it's just a matter of time till a wheels fall off.

I find this more amusing than battling for the eighth and final playoff spot like the last 10 yrs.

Call the Paramedics this could get interesting.

Avatar
#71 VK63
January 19 2010, 09:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

1989: Quebec used the first pick to take Mats Sundin, who played 1,346 games and had 1,349 points. The New York Islanders took Dave Chyzowski with the second pick. Chyzowski finished 1,318 points back of Sundin with 31 points in 126 games.

Maybe Chyzowski had the flu?

Avatar
#72 VK63
January 19 2010, 09:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

1989: Quebec used the first pick to take Mats Sundin, who played 1,346 games and had 1,349 points. The New York Islanders took Dave Chyzowski with the second pick. Chyzowski finished 1,318 points back of Sundin with 31 points in 126 games.

Maybe Chyzowski had the flu?

Avatar
#73 Used to be Darren
January 19 2010, 09:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Okay, I used to be on here under the name 'Darren'. Now that someone else is using it (in this post) I will switch to my old name on here, Mike Modano's Dog!

P.S. To the new Darren on here, I disagree with your comment of RB 'cherrypicking' his stats for his arguments. If you think that his point is invalid then simply use your own stats to prove your point.

Avatar
#74 Mike Modano's Dog
January 19 2010, 09:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Racki

Racki, you do good work, man! You ever consider getting a job working for this site because I like your work - seriously!

P.S. I was thinking exactly the same thing as you - if we could get Dan Campbell in round 2 that would be an absolute steal. I don't think we can but I think we should make a move to make sure we do get him this year, though. He looked phenomenal in the WJC, and we definitely need an answer for our future goaltending position.

To R.B. - Loved your story, well, okay anything to do with the draft I am kind of a nut for, so of course I liked it.

The funny thing is your story and Racki's follow-up were kind of in two different directions and I totally liked what both of you had to say. I think, in the end that obviously having that top choice would be awesome, but as long as we finish 1-3 for the draft choice I think we'll be very happy!

Did I mention we need Dan Campbell on this team yet??

I was actually going to ask, based on his play at the WJC, his size, reflexes, talent, etc., etc., etc. why ISN'T he projected in the top 5 in this draft? Or at least something near that... Is there something about him that hasn't been talked about that is dropping him way down because so far he looks phenomenal, with every quality you want a future goalie to have.

Avatar
#75 wes turner
January 20 2010, 06:22AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

In reading about the bag skate I see the captain(moreau) did not go down with the ship too sore to practice. But i am sure will be dressed tonight ready to take another selfish penalty.

Avatar
#76 Robin Brownlee
January 20 2010, 07:19AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
wes turner wrote:

In reading about the bag skate I see the captain(moreau) did not go down with the ship too sore to practice. But i am sure will be dressed tonight ready to take another selfish penalty.

Ethan has a neck injury.

Avatar
#77 Reagan
January 20 2010, 08:27AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Most likely from a cheap hit he placed on someone. :) And also took a penalty for it.

Comments are closed for this article.