Dare to dream

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:12 PM ET

Imagine for a moment the right bingo ball falls. Lightning has struck and the Calgary Flames have won the lottery held in New York Thursday.

The Flames are suddenly the envy of the league after winning the first-overall pick in the NHL entry draft, therefore winning the right to select phenom Sidney Crosby.

What should GM/head coach Darryl Sutter do next?

Well, other than prepare to immediately sell the remaining season ticket packages available at the 'Dome.

The greatest thing about gaining the rights to the most anticipated up-and-coming player in years? Options.

Do you trade him? Do you keep him and make him the centre-piece of the organization? Or make him a complement to Jarome Iginla?

The possibilities are many, one would say endless since 29 other teams would be interested in knowing if they have a chance to pry him away and what the cost would be.

Let's look them over.

OPTION 1: Keep Crosby.

Not only keep him but also retain the rest of the team that was within a goal of winning the 2004 Stanley Cup.

This is the most obvious option. Crosby has immense talent on the ice, is incredibly marketable off it and -- gosh darn -- seems like such a genuinely wonderful young man.

Why wouldn't you keep him?

By the way, here is a message for anyone who doubts he's a 'Sutter player' courtesy Brent Sutter, who happened to coach Sid the Kid at the world juniors:

"Any team that pulls out the right ball is going to be ecstatic," he told the Edmonton Journal. "It's not just how he plays the game, it's the whole package with Sidney.

"He was a very, very good player in junior -- 99.9 percent of players would love his skill. But it's the other things. He's true to his word, respectful. Committed. He's a good human being. Some kids his age might be phony. He's not one bit."

Throw him on a team that includes Miikka Kiprusoff in goal, Calgary's top-notch young defence corps and a forward crew that boasts Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow and Steve Reinprecht and you've got a real chance to hoist Lord Stanley's mug.

OPTION 2: Keep Crosby and trade Jarome Iginla.

This option may be heresy in these parts but certainly something to consider. More likely you want Iginla to work with Crosby, teach him about becoming a NHL star and the dedication that takes.

However, Crosby is the one rookie you can say has a legitimate shot to win the scoring title in the next few years, especially with plenty of top-six talent around him.

Iginla is likely two seasons away from being an unrestricted free agent but it would fall to one if the June 30 cut-off date changes or if the new plan allows a player to be a UFA after eight years of NHL service.

If Iginla isn't interested in a long-term commitment, he could be dealt for a nifty slew of players and prospects to build around your new centre-piece.

OPTION 3: Keep Crosby but trade a couple of young players for veteran scoring.

Chuck Kobasew had nearly a perfect season in the minors during the lockout, found his scoring touch and showed great leadership while developing.

He and say an Eric Nystrom would be valued by other teams, especially clubs needing young talent -- hello New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs -- after relying on moldy oldies for so long.

Imagine what would be offered for Dion Phaneuf?

This is very unlikely and only possible if all the restricted free agents -- Iginla, Langkow, Reinprecht, Kiprusoff being the key ones -- committed to Calgary long-term. It's a very unlikely scenario since Sutter firmly believes a team is best off developing young players who fit the system.

OPTION 4: Trade Crosby for a collection of players who can help immediately, along with prospects and draft picks.

If you don't remember what the Quebec Nordiques received for the rights to Eric Lindros, here's a refresher: Peter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, the first round pick of 1993 (Jocelyn Thibault), $15 million and future considerations that amounted to Chris Simon and another first-round choice (traded away in the Wendel Clark/Mats Sundin deal).

You won't likely get a deal like that now, even though Mike Milbury is still a GM, but you never know. Plus, teams like the Rangers and Leafs don't have that many enticing players, or draft picks, to send the other way.

But, what if Philadelphia offers the likes of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Joni Pitkanen? Or Atlanta considers dealing Dany Heatley and Kari Lehtonen? Or San Jose offers up Patrick Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo and Scott Hannan?

As one player said, "Pick a young, mid-level star, say Martin Havlat. How many points would he have put up in the QMJHL this past season?"

You could build for the present and the future with a plethora of players instead of one.

Hey, wouldn't you love to see the offers?

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LUCK OF THE DRAW

Total number of balls in NHL Entry Draft lottery is 48 with percentage of a team winning first pick in parentheses. Lottery will be conducted Thursday.

THREE BALLS (6.25%)

Buffalo Sabres; Columbus Blue Jackets; N.Y. Rangers; Pittsburgh Penguins.

TWO BALLS (4.17%)

Anaheim Mighty Ducks; Atlanta Thrashers; Calgary Flames; Carolina Hurricanes; Chicago Blackhawks; Edmonton Oilers; Los Angeles Kings; Minnesota Wild; Nashville Predators; Phoenix Coyotes.

ONE BALL (2.08%)

Boston Bruins; Colorado Avalanche; Dallas Stars; Detroit Red Wings; Florida Panthers; Montreal Canadiens; New Jersey Devils; N.Y. Islanders; Ottawa Senators; Philadelphia Flyers. San Jose Sharks; St. Louis Blues; Tampa Bay Lightning; Toronto Maple Leafs; Vancouver Canucks; Washington Capitals.


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