NHL Week in Review (April 12-18)

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The focus in the NHL is centred around the playoffs and rightfully so as teams battle it out to get that much closer to the Stanley Cup.

With sixteen teams fighting it out for their chance at the sports biggest prize another fourteen teams were looking to this week as a potential change of fortunes for their team.

That was because of the NHL Draft Lottery that took place this Saturday and would determine who could get the most exciting prospect since Sidney Crosby.

These types of players come around very rarely as there was Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby and essentially that is it.

There have been plenty of players that look like they are going to enter that very exclusive group but so far none have been able.

Gretzky is known as “The Great One” and was the main piece in the dynasty that was the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. He was not drafted as his path through the WHA and into the NHL was a unique one but still he was a player that changed Edmonton into the City of Champions.

Six years after Gretzky left the game with nothing left to prove another young kid was ready to enter the NHL.

hockey-sidebarCrosby had been followed since he was 12 and began breaking records on the ice. Heading into the 2005 draft he was the consensus #1 as he was nicknamed “The Next One” as many said he was a franchise changing prospect the likes of which had not been seen since Gretzky entered the NHL.

The league had established a new way to determine who would get Crosby in the draft though as they brought the first draft lottery giving every team a chance to move up in the draft order, a maximum of five spots, and giving five teams a chance to take the #1 pick and draft Crosby.

The Pittsburgh Penguins won this lottery and took the top pick in the draft. There was no question that the Penguins were going to take Crosby and so they did.

Four years later Crosby was considered the greatest player since Gretzky and the Penguins were Stanley Cup Champions.

Now the situation is much the same as a young kid that has been followed for years and was granted an OHL exceptional player status to play in the major juniors at age 15.

Since then he has dominated the league and is considered the greatest prospect since Sidney Crosby.

He is considered a player that can change a franchise and so fourteen teams, all with a chance at earning the top pick, entered Saturday with some hope that they could get this player that could change so much.

Buffalo held the best chance at earning that spot after finishing last in the league and having a 20% chance at retaining that spot.

That is not always how it works out though and as the teams ticked down one team was going to be changed forever.

That teamed turned out to be the Edmonton Oilers who jumped from the #3 pick in the draft to the #1 pick after winning the lottery.

With the top pick it seems almost certain that the Canadian team will take the Canadian kid that has been considered the greatest hockey player since Crosby.

There may be some debate as Jack Eichel has been pressing McDavid all year but the last few months of hockey have seen McDavid take a clear lead in the race for being #1.

The problem for many fans that want to see what McDavid can do is the fact that the Oilers have been in this exact situation before and so far they have not seen a game changer emerge on their team.

The Oilers have had four top three picks in the last five years. They have drafted first in three of those years and in each of those years there has been a fairly clear #1 pick.

First it was Taylor Hall then it was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and in their third top pick in a row they took Nail Yakupov.

Although all three have had some debate before their draft they were all considered players that could change the Oilers.

Yet the fact that the Oiler remain at the top of the draft board is proof that none of these players have stepped up.

It is beginning to become a serious question as to how bad a team can be to take so much young talent and fail to win year after year.

Are the players simply too hyped up? or is it something to do with the Oilers organization taking great young talent and wasting it with poor coaching and management?

McDavid is better than all of those players that have been taken first overall on the Oilers, or at least he seems to be, but will his talents be wasted in Edmonton?

It will be an interesting debate as the Oilers have won the right to take a player that might enter that exclusive group of players that can change a franchise but in Edmonton that line has been heard plenty of times and yet they remain one of the worst teams in the league despite their talent.

Overtime
(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Early Controversy
It didn’t take long for the NHL to see some controversy in the playoffs as the first game saw PK Subban chop down Mark Stone and get tossed from the game only for Stone to return to the game and Subban to receive no extra discipline for the act

Almost All Even
It has been a very even year in the playoffs as the first round is now even in all but two series as the Anaheim Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens are the only teams to head to their road games with a great hold of their series

Darling Leading the Way
After coming in for relief in the first game and standing on his head, Scott Darling will take the ice in Game three of the Chicago-Nashville series after Corey Crawford seems to be out of his depth this time around

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