The Edmonton Oilers have – once again – won the right to select first overall in the National Hockey League Entry Draft. The Oilers won the 2012 NHL Draft Lottery on April 10 after finishing 29th overall in the league standings, which means they had an 18.8 percent of winning the lottery and moving ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the draft order.
The Oilers are now scheduled to become just the second team to draft first overall in three consecutive NHL Entry Drafts. The Oilers drafted Taylor Hall first overall in 2010 and then Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall in 2011. The Québec Nordiques (now Colorado Avalanche) were the first team to draft first overall in three successive drafts (Mats Sundin in 1989, Owen Nolan in 1990 and Eric Lindros in 1991).
By winning the NHL Draft Lottery, the Oilers slipped ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the draft order. The top-five draft picks for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft belong to the Oilers, Blue Jackets, Montréal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. It marks the first time since 1989 that three Canadian teams could walk away with top-five picks on draft day (barring any last-minute deals). In 1989, the Nordiques (Sundin), Toronto Maple Leafs (Scott Thornton) and Winnipeg Jets (Stu Barns) drafted first, third and fourth overall.
As for speculation as to who the Oilers may draft in 2012, right winger Nail Yakupov is a potential pick. Yakupov of the Ontario League’s Sarnia Sting was the top-ranked prospect in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s Final Rank for North American-based skaters. Defenceman Ryan Murray of the Western League’s Everett Silvertips was second. Forward Filip Forsberg of Sweden’s Leksand, meanwhile, was the top-ranked prospect amongst European skaters.