Oiler scouts ready for anything

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

OTTAWA -- With only one pick in the first three rounds, it almost looks like the Edmonton Oilers scouting staff can mail it in this draft.

Pick one guy at 22, then have somebody wake them up when it's their turn to pick again in Round 4.

But while the difference between last summer -- when the Oilers had three picks in the first round- and this summer -- when they have one pick in the first three rounds -- is night and day, the scouts haven't changed a thing.

"A lot of things can happen on draft day," said Oilers head scout Stu MacGregor. "You can run into a lot of surprises. Players and picks become available that you didn't expect to be available. You have to be prepared, you have to be ready."

For all they know GM Kevin Lowe could trade up at the last minute, or swing a deal that nets them a pick in the top 10, or a pick or two in the second or third rounds.

"When we got together for our meetings, Kevin said 'Be ready. You never know what could happen,' "said MacGregor. "We still have to put our list of players together, rate them one through 150 or whatever, and just like we always do, go off that."

The Oilers are under pressure to deliver something tangible this draft. They don't want to look back at the class of 2008 a few years from now and not see a single NHLer. With only one pick in the first 102 (so far), they've got to get it right.

"I think there's always some pressure, you want to do the best you can do," said MacGregor. "It's a big day for scouts. You've worked all year to try and find a good player, bring a good player to the organization, so I guess there's a little bit of pressure.

"I don't think it's extraordinary, where you're going to be really nervous. You've done your work, you've done your preparation. You just pick the player who's next on your list. As long as you've done your work you don't feel a lot of pressure."

They figure they'll get somebody they have rated between 15 and 25 on their list.

"We could probably use a forward, but the highest end forwards are going to be gone by then," said MacGregor. "So if it ends up being a defenceman, if he's the best available player, we'd go that way."

By the time draft day comes, it's simply a matter of crossing names off their list.

"I would anticipate at the table that we'll have a short discussion of where we're at with the player we think we're going to get," he said.

"But if you have to do your work at the table, you're making too many emotional decisions. At that point you just keep scratching names off and the next one there is your guy.''


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