After all of Brian Burke's razor-tongued taunts about the first round pick he received for Dustin Penner, how it would surely be a lottery selection given the way Kevin Lowe was driving his franchise into the muck, Edmonton finished last season as one of the hottest teams in the league.
So the Ducks will choose 12th, not first, in the June entry draft.
And after all the fears in Edmonton that a deep playoff run by Anaheim would render the first-round pick they received in the Chris Pronger trade virtually useless, the Ducks bowed out in the first round.
The Oilers will pick 22nd, not 30th. After all that, all the bluster, name calling and hand-wringing, the two teams are just 10 spaces apart.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Much ado, it turns out, about nothing.
"It's just so typical of how people jump to conclusions," Edmonton's general manager said yesterday in a telephone interview from the World Championships.
Lowe took enormous heat at the time of the deal, and was forced to defend himself during every subsequent attack from Burke.
Now that the draft order is complete (except for 27, 28, 29 and 30, depending on how the final four play out), and the evidence is there in black and white, there has to be a sense of vindication. Unfortunately there's no undoing the bad blood and the black mark the the feud left on Burke, Lowe and the NHL.
"There's not much you can say at the time except, well, let's wait and see," said Lowe. "But I don't get any comfort out of this now because the damage is done - people have had their moment in terms of criticism. But that comes with the territory, you can't do much about it."
It would be a perfect opportunity to fire back at the Ducks, but Lowe isn't interested.
"I'm not one to go around behaving that way; we just have to take care of our own house," he said, adding he's still happy with the Penner deal. "He's still young enough to keep getting better. A potential 25-goal scorer for five years was probably worth a 12th pick, given all the young players that we had."
Sometimes you need patience when analyzing a deal, but that isn't always the case. Smyth for Nilsson looked like a robbery at the time. Today, Nilsson is better, cheaper and has a much better upside.
"We've seen (an initial uproar) quite often in deals," said Lowe. "And with the Smyth deal I understand it because there was so much emotion involved, but sometimes you have to analyze them over two or three years."
Lowe took care of three big signings in the first week of the off-season and things have been quiet ever since, but the rumour mill has been working overtime. Lowe took the opportunity yesterday to stamp out some of the bad scoops.
For starters, he said, Craig Simpson is not coming back to the Oilers next year.
"No, that's craziness, total craziness," he said of a story making the rounds. "One minute he's going to be president, the next minute he's going to be assistant general manager. I don't know who started that, but there's nothing to it whatsoever. You can rest assured that he will not be a part of the organization next year."
DAUM'S FUTURE UP IN AIR
Rob Daum might be part of the organization next year, but it won't be as a coach with the Oilers. The assistant coach was hired on a one-year term and that term is up, so the Oilers are looking in another direction - possibly Buchberger, who did a very good job turning the likes of Nilsson and Zack Stortini into NHLers.
"Rob is not coming back as coach with the big club," said Lowe, who would still like to see Daum remain with the team in some capacity. "He's earned my respect in the organization, all of our respect. He's a good hockey guy. I'm just pondering what we're going to get him to do. He's also thinking about his options, too.
"There's things in the organization we can get him to do, lots of stuff I've been wanting to expand on when the right guy came along."