For the first time since 1996, a Canadian team will be picking first in the draft. Also, more importantly, in finishing with a league-worst 62 points, the system worked, as the worst team really did earn the top pick and the right to draft what is believed to be the best player. If only every sport worked this way (NBA).
Not only were the Edmonton Oilers bad, but at 62 points they finished comfortably 12 points behind their next closest "competition", that being fellow Canadian franchise the Toronto Maple Leafs.
What is in the water in Canada? You've got three good teams (Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal) and three bad teams: (Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary) and Calgary isn't really that bad, having just missed the playoffs, meanwhile Montreal not really that good, having just made it.
You've also got three perceived "big" market teams in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, and three small ones in Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa which bears little connection as to being competative or not, just wanted to point out another obvious divide.
Still, it proves a good point as the basis for this article is that it's good for the NHL that a historical power like Edmonton, whom players like Gretzky, Messier, and Anderson put on the map along with Grant Fuhr—all sons of Canada. Just like it should be and with winning the lottery, maybe one of Canada's lost franchises, albeit one that was just in the Cup Finals in 2006, can get some of that glory back.
After the Gretzky trade and fallout of 1988 , Canada needs something good to go her way, especially with the country losing out on the Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques, the 1991 Eric Lindros slap in the face (more on that in a future article), and no Stanley Cups since Jacques Demers and the 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens.
History of losing players despite competative bids
You might remember last year when Edmonton thought they had a deal for Dany Heatley around the time of the draft only to have him refute it from Ottawa, ironically, and get traded ultimately to San Jose, in the United States.
But Heatley was hardly the first player to spurn the small-market Oilers from Alberta. Before him there was Marian Hossa who was offered $81 million over nine years in 2008 before signing a highly controversial and unconventional one-year offer with perennial power Detroit only to see that fall just short in the Finals against the team he left, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won it all at Hossa and Detroit's expense.
Before him there was Michael Nylander, who opted to go to Washington after they thought they had a gentleman's agreement with him a year earlier.
And before that, were the countless times GM Kevin Lowe thought he had deals either in the offseason or at the trade deadline only to see them rejected. Heatley wasn't the first and won't be the last free agent or marquee player to opt not to play in Edmonton much to the fans' chagrin.
2006: Chris Pronger
2007: Michael Nylander
2008: Marian Hossa
2009: Dany Heatley
2010: TBD wait and see. Not a very encouraging track record to say the least.
So that is what makes the prospect of Edmonton drafting either of this year's top-notch superstars all the more intriguing.
Seguin and Hall: Both good for the NHL
Both Tyler Seguin, the likely number one overall pick, is from Brampton, Ont., the same home of NHLers Rick Nash and Andrew Cassels, among others. Taylor Hall, a Calgary native who grew up in Kingston, Ont., are not only the top two stars of this draft but by both hailing from Canada, likely would embrace playing for one of their sister teams, that being Edmonton.
Seguin, in particular, will likely get that chance, while his closest competitor to that claim will ironically probably get to play for an original six team in Boston which holds the second pick thanks to the Phil Kessel trade last year from Toronto.
Hall, according to Wikipedia, already wears No. 4 as a tribute to former Bruins player and Hall of Famer, Bobby Orr. Why is this important? Because it demonstrates the young player's cultural connection and commitment to the sport he plays by being familar with its history and appreciating it.
As an added bonus, he recognizes Calder Trophy finalist snub, and last year's top overall pick John Tavares among his role models. Not a bad place to start considering he not only had a solid season and Tavares also being a Mississauga, Ont., native.
Can either win Rookie of the Year? Can either carry their team as the face of their franchise? It will depend where they ultimately go, but in either cas, you've got one team (Edmonton) in need of star power to sell tickets and hope for the next decade, and in another you've got a kid who would be going to a playoff team mixed with veterans and emerging young talent.
The NHL really can't lose on whatever the combination or ultimate destination, provided they market each correctly. That begins with increasing television viewing opportunities on Versus and NBC next season with these two teams so we might be able to see the future of the league.
That, of course, would also depend on the 19-year-old Hall and 18-year-old Seguin making their opening day rosters which, considering Tavares did it on a similarily bad Islanders team that made small improvements this season, is entirely possible.
If either can match the success of Nova Scotian Sidney Crosby or Thunder Bay's Jordan Staal, at this point, would just be wishful thinking.
For now, just be glad there are still Canadians willing to play in the NHL, playing the game they love and believed to be the top of their class.
Only three of the last 13 Calder Trophy winners , the award for the league's top rookie, have been Canadian. Most have been foreign coming from either Russia or Sweden.
Of the top overall draft picks during that time, less than half —only six—hail from Canada and while most of them have been very good, it still isn't a great enough percentage.
But history shows you, with Marc-Andre Fluery, Crosby, Nash, Steven Stamkos, or Tavares to name a few during that timeframe, more often than not if you draft a Canadian first overall, you are going to be more than statisfied with the results.
Some would argue Ottawa's Chris Phillips in 1996, but I would argue Alexander Daigle in 1993 as the time one has to go back to find the last Canadian bust, meaning it's generally pretty safe.
Hopefully Seguin and Hall don't disappoint.
History suggests they shouldn't and two teams are going to be very happy with the results.
References and information coutesy, ESPN.com, wikipedia.com, CBC.com, and NHL.com directly contributed to this article.
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