Every year around this time, the draft hype starts to become insufferable, to the point where the winner of the Stanley Cup seems to be a non-factor, like it doesn't even matter. Read scouting reports, re-read scouting reports, check for opinions, scouring the www for highlights that seem to be slipping from your mind. Its all part fo the draft junky's regiment.
The Edmonton Oiler fans seem to have annointed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the next savior of Oilerville. I have nothing against Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, he is a damn, fine player and anyone who drafts him should be thrilled to have him. The questions I have about the "Nuge" and the Oilers are:
1) Timing - How long are the Oilers going to have to wait for him to make it to the show? The Oilers are grossly thin at center, so him making the team in terms of competition, the road is clear and a number 1 center spot is his to be had from day 1. How long will it take for him to make an impact is more of a question? Hall's and Eberle's clocks are ticking, how long are they going to wait for their #1 C to emerge? The only way the Oilers are getting a #1 C is by drafting him, so thought of deals or UFAs are far out of my mind, teams just aren't giving those away and are likely to overpay for one. With the "Nuge", the Oilers are going to have to win on speed and guile, because they will lack braun. In today's NHL you need a little bit of evertything, braun will likely be lacking for some time.
2) Fans - It seems the fans are torn in terms of "win now or win later". The Oilers have a chance to jump the curb a bit and pick Couturier at #1, but this pick has a very large chance to make or break the rebuild. The question is do the Oilers want to be better more quickly or wait? Its a tough call because there are no guarantees either way. Couturier is more NHL ready while Nugent-Hopkins has higher upside potential. The Oilers will have to find themselves if they draft the "Nuge" while Couturier is more plug and play. The Nuge, Hall and Eberle are going to have to find some ornery trees to play with if they want some room to operate.
The biggest misconception the Oiler fans seem to have is "pick the best player and we'll be fine". That's not entirely true. Teams that truly are awful and have nothing to build around would be well served to pick the best player and make them their "centerpiece", "cornerstone", and build around that player. But what if your team is already in the process of being built and has players that are cornerstones? Do you throw another one on the BBQ and procure volume? or do you address needs? especially ones that can play right away?
Oiler fans, in general, seem to think a new window is opening, but in fact, the clock is ticking and the window is wide open and starting to close. The kids are ready, the centerpieces are there, time to start filling holes properly.