SUN Hockey Pool

Players pumped for pick

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:27 PM ET

EDMONTON - Tom Gilbert never watched a draft lottery in his life.

Who would?

But he wasn’t missing this one.

“I’ve never been into the lottery before, never really watched it,” said the Oilers defenceman. “But I’ve never been on a team that’s been part of it, either.”

He’s a big part of this one, and is pumped that Edmonton is picking first overall and will get to decide between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin.

“To the fans, the guys on the team, to management, it’s exciting to get a young player like that who’s expected to do well,” said Gilbert. “There are high hopes on both these young guys. It’s going to be exciting to see what type of player we might get here.”

Finally, after 82 long games, the worst season ever yields something positive.

“If you’re going to miss the playoffs you might as well finished dead last, you get a better pick for it,” said Shawn Horcoff. “A lot of years we finished 9th 10th and ended up getting a 10th to 18th overall pick. Those aren’t guaranteed to be impact players like one or two. It makes management’s job a lot easier. If you look at teams that are successful now, they’ve had those picks in the last five years.”

But will Edmonton’s first pick be able to step right in?

“You really only see two or three guys a year who are able to do that,” said Horcoff. “You hope it happens, we’d love that, but you have to be patient. Would we like to see immediate success, absolutely, but are we going to be patient and wait for it, absolutely. We don’t have a choice in the matter.”

Associate coach Tom Renney says there’s nothing wrong with starting a kid in Oklahoma City.

“It’s like taking a drink out of a fire hose, you can’t force these kids into the NHL too early,” he said, including Jordan Eberle and Linus Omark in the mix. “It doesn’t matter who it is. We need to be cognizant of that, so does everyone. As much as we’d love to see the excitement of a first rounder step on the ice here for game one of next season, we have to make sure we make the intelligent choices as to where these kids start their seasons.”

Oilers faithful are counting on this pick to change the direction of a ship that’s been taking on water for 10 years. Is that too much to ask of some teenagers?

“There’s a lot of pressure, but if you’re a high draft pick or played in high level games, like World Junior, you learn how to deal with that pressure more,” said Sam Gagner. “I feel like the guys who are coming in have dealt with it. I know everybody in Edmonton is looking forward to seeing what they can bring.”

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos