Draft day needed a snooze button

JOHN SHORT, SPECIAL TO THE EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 1:51 PM ET

B-O-R-I-N-G!

Yes, I mean the NHL entry draft.

What else can you think when the biggest news of what is supposed to be the league's most important off-season day is that nothing of substance took place.

Only the die-hards can be happy.

THREE NEW NAMES

Sure, the Oilers got three new names for their media guide on Friday and added another handful yesterday, but Kevin Lowe and his supporters have to wait at least one more day before the big splash they've been hoping for can become a reality.

It's hard to make a big splash in a wading pool, which is where the Oilers have chosen to paddle safely for a long, long time.

After all these years, a guy has to wonder how much longer Edmonton's fans, hoping for a big strike on draft day, will have to suffer because of that failed Jason Bonsignore pick.

When former head scout Barry Fraser insisted that the Oilers take the long-striding kid from the Rochester, N.Y., area in the first round, he disregarded all kinds of advance notice that Bonsignore was moody, inconsistent and probably more than a touch spoiled by the adulation that surrounds young sports stars.

As it turned out, the skeptics were right. He had a motor-bike and enjoyed loud music. Otherwise, it was impossible to figure out what, if anything, mattered to him.

Fraser, who spent time as the unchallenged king of NHL scouting before he got tired or bored, is probably right when he still insists Bonsignore was the most talented choice available. But that makes no difference at all.

At least once, Fraser confirmed it was difficult to endure the criticism he faced over that choice.

The best way for others to avoid similar second-guessing is to make safe choices.

Enter Sam Gagner. Every reputable scouting agency had him at about the same spot: number 5, 6 or 7.

Enter Alex Plante. Who?

Enter Riley Nash. Who?

Apart from scouts and family, nobody knows.

Alexei Cherepanov, arguably the most talented player in the draft, and Angelo Esposito, who fell steadily in the rankings after being placed at the top by scouts six months ago, were still available when those two Oilers selections were made.

But Cherepanov, caught in the middle of heavy negotiations between Russian hockey bosses and the NHL, is often described as moody, inconsistent and selfish. Similar words, remember, were issued in those pre-draft evaluations of that major Oilers error.

Similar criticism has been aimed at Esposito, who carries the additional label of "soft." Another serving of fried Bonsignore, anybody?

There's always the possibility that Plante or Nash will become a top NHL player. Stranger things have happened, I guess.

If they fail - well, no public warnings were issued by other scouts about immaturity or selfishness. That's the good news.

And it was supposed to be a bad draft year, anyway.

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JUST CHECKING

- Can there possibly be a tougher media job interviewing one faceless youngster after another on live television for more than three consecutive hours and smothering yawn after yawn as every one of them says the same thing in a variety of words? Offhand, I can't think of one.

- Are you surprised that Oilers investors such as Ed Bean and Bruce Saville are big contributors to the annual Tiara Golf Classic? I'm not, but it was a shock to realize that the Oilers, as an entity, were not involved in any way.


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