Take your pick in Crosby sweepstakes

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

They could pick first. They could pick 30th.

The former would be, literally, like winning the lottery. The latter would represent the latest first-round draft pick for the Edmonton Oilers in their 25-year NHL history.

That won't be decided until Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow shake hands on a collective bargaining agreement and the badly kept secret of staging a weighted lottery to determine the order of the belated 2005 Entry Draft is made official.

No matter which way the balls drop in the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes, the Oilers' scouting staff will have the bases covered.

But, unlike past summers, chief scout Kevin Prendergast and his staff will meet in Edmonton June 12 without knowing when they'll be picking.

The Edmonton Oilers are proud to select ...

"We'd probably have to take a time-out with that one," laughs Prendergast, talking about the odds of landing the first pick and the millisecond it would take to shout Crosby's name. "This year, it's more difficult.

"In the past, you could cross off a bunch of names because you knew they weren't going to be there when your turn came. This time, you could be picking second or 22nd. Big difference."

Landing the No. 1 pick, it goes without saying, makes what happens at the draft a no-brainer. It's the 29 other potential first-round selection spots that has changed things up.

When Oilers scouts convene to compare notes and prospect rankings as they always do, they won't be able to zero in on the three or four players they want and think will be available with, say, the 14th pick.

"We have to rate everybody in a lot stiffer order than we normally would," said Prendergast.

"It's different than when you know you're picking 12th or 13th or 14th, like we have in past years.

"The drop-off after Crosby actually isn't that big. There's a lot of outstanding players at the high end of this draft. The top-10 players all have a chance to play. Crosby is a special player, but there's a crop from second through 10th who are almost interchangeable."


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