Oilers Players Cause a Stink Over the Fall for Hall

The math is pretty simple if you understand how the draft lottery works.

No team can win and move up more than a certain amount. No team can also drop more than one spot. That means, if the Oilers were to finish 30th in the NHL standings at the end of the season, they have a 48% chance of staying put or worst case scenario, if another team wins the lottery and moves to draft number one, the Oilers are guaranteed draft spot number 2.

The Oilers would be fine if they drafted 30th or 29th. Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are the consensus number one and two picks in the this years draft and the Oilers along with a number of other experts are having trouble determining who should be the clear cut number one.

If the Oilers were to somehow string a run of final wins together, as it looked like they might do for a second when they beat both New Jersey and Minnesota, they would stand the chance that Toronto could swoop in and place 30th, thus giving the first pick to the Boston Bruins.

This could, if the Oilers lose the draft, mean they draft third where a respectable defenceman Cam Fowler sits. Most would agree though, Fowler while good, isn't Hall or Seguin.

In the two wins, the Oilers actually looked a better team than their record suggested. That is, until they completely fell apart against the Senators and showed everyone why they sit in last place in the NHL.

The buzz among fans regarding the draft in Edmonton isn't a quiet one. It's hard, when the team is so unsuccessful, to draw anything but a silver lining knowing as a team in rebuild mode, you'll get to draft the number one overall pick simply by losing a few more games. It's no surprise, fans who went to see the Senators trounce Edmonton 4-1 weren't upset. A coveted spot like the first pick in the draft has produced players like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos; who will no doubt be superstars if they aren't already.

The noise however isn't sitting well with the Oilers. "You can't just pack it in. We all do this because we love it. You don't just stop trying. The last thing on your mind is how you're going to do in a lottery pick." said Mike Comrie. When he said as much, he understood the talk, but was not pleased that he had to address it. Not coincidentally, Comrie is fighting for a job next season.

Sam Gagner reitterated the sentiment. "You play to win games," Gagner said. "There's pride in that. You want to feel good about yourself. Funny, Gagner is set to earn good money with a productive season.

Or, Tom Gilbert may have said it best. "If you go out there and you want to get that first or second pick and you want to lose, that's a loser mentality. As a player, you don't want that to sink into you. You play to win regardless of what place you're in. Anything else is a loser mentality." Odd, that Gilbert, who has had an extremely poor season and taking up a large portion of the Oilers cap space discusses the loser mentality. It wasn't a few days ago that Gilbert was nearly traded to the New York Rangers.

While we as fans see the bonus in finishing last, there are a number of players on this current Oilers roster playing for more than wins and losses. Fernando Pisani, Mike Comrie, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Gilbert Brule, Marc Pouliot, Ryan Potulny and JF Jacques along with defencemen Jason Strudwick, Theo Peckham and newcomer Aaron Johnson need to show there's a place for them on this team going forward. Furthermore, both goalies Deslauriers and Dubnyk are trying to earn a spot in the NHL on a consistent basis.

Whether they see it as a better pay day, a continued stance of employment in the NHL or simply pride as a professional, you can bet these guys aren't just calling it quits with the hope someone will be here to save the team.

In fact, with word that the Oilers will consider but be careful with Jordan Eberle's introduction to the NHL, along side managements plan to bring Magnus Svennson from Sweden; the players on this current Oilers roster already know they'll be competing for jobs. They'll be no time to rest for guys that have had anything but a stellar season.

My guess, is that this team is much more frustrated than the simple fact they are in last place. Many will be unemployed or no longer in the NHL when all is said and done. That's enough to put anyone on edge.


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