Oil Kings to make first draft picks

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:53 PM ET

Essentially it's a case of forming a team from players other clubs didn't want.

Or at least didn't want bad enough to make them unavailable.

Today the Edmonton Oil Kings will form their roster through the Western Hockey League expansion draft, selecting one player from each team.

These players will step on the ice in September as the third incarnation of the major junior hockey franchise.

"We want to be competitive right away," said Oil Kings general manager Bob Green. "But we also want to be sure that we build that foundation for the future.

"We want to make sure we bring in good kids to be a part of this program. We don't want to be too young where we're not going to be able to compete. And the older guys we bring in have to be character guys and good leaders."

With the exception of the Regina Pats and Kamloops Blazers, the rest of the teams in the WHL are allowed to protect 13 players plus three overage players (20-year-olds) or 15 players in total.

Players not on that list and born between 1987 and 1990 are considered fair game.

The Pats and Blazers already made deals with the Oil Kings, each giving up a player from their roster in exchange for exemption in the draft.

The Pats traded forward Brent Raedeke, 16, and two bantam draft picks for an Oil Kings draft pick. Last week the Oil Kings got centre Brendan Dowd, 19, from the Blazers.

Today the Oil Kings will select a player from the rosters of the other 19 teams in the league. They'll get the protected players list at 9 a.m. and then have six hours to make their decisions.

"We're going through each team's list and we're projecting who they're going to protect," said Green.

Unlike the players selected in last month's bantam draft, those selected today are eligible to play in the WHL next season.

"For the next two years, these players are going to make up our hockey team," Green said.

Conventional wisdom would dictate the Oil Kings will struggle for the first couple of years. How good can a team of castaways be?

However, both the Chilliwack Bruins and Everett Silvertips proved an expansion team can be competitive right out of the blocks.

"You have to put together a team that can be competitive right away, but you have to be careful not to get a team that's too old where you'll graduate all your players in a couple of years and you have to rebuild two or three years down the road," said Bruins general manager Darrel May.

The Bruins made the playoffs in their inaugural season last year. The Silvertips made it all the way to the WHL final in their debut season.

"What you're looking for in the expansion draft and what you get are two different things," said Silvertips general manager Doug Soetaert

"I don't think there'll be any 20-, 30- or 40-goal scorers out there for them. I think we had 92 goals in our lineup when we finished our draft."


Videos

Photos