Photo: Teemu Hartikainen may not be the most glamorous prospect in the Oilers' system, but the hard-nosed winger is once again skating with the big club in Edmonton. (courtesy of Vincent Muzik/Icon SMI)
As a team that has taken the number one draft selection in the league for the past three years, the Edmonton Oilers are in a unique position. Their last three number one picks have been an almost sure-bet to enter straight onto the Oilers roster at the beginning of the next season and were expected to make a big splash for a team that desperately needed some new blood, starting with Taylor Hall in 2010-11, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011-12, and Nail Yakupov in 2012-13. This leaves the potential for the remaining draft pool to be a bit sparse, but the Oilers have managed to maintain some depth in their pipeline.
Photo: Newly-signed Edmonton Oilers prospect Justin Schultz (#6) will begin his pro career after a strong NCAA career with the University of Wisconsin (courtesy of Elsa/Getty Images)
The expectations have been building for the Edmonton Oilers, and the time has come to deliver. After half a decade at or near the bottom of the NHL standings, the club now has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young talent. This is true not only of graduated, full-time NHL players but also of the team’s prospects.
Photo: Russian forward Nail Yakupov is the third player in a row the Edmonton Oilers have selected with the first overall pick of the NHL Draft. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
After a pair of seasons at the bottom of the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers got lucky in 2012 and won the draft lottery, securing a third consecutive first overall pick in the process. In the lead up to the big event in Pittsburgh, much was made that Edmonton might be looking at someone other than consensus top pick Sarnia Sting winger Nail Yakupov, with many suggesting they would select Everett Silvertips blueliner Ryan Murray (CLB). When the dust settled however, the consensus was accurate and Yakupov is now an Oiler.
Photo: Sania Sting forward Nail Yakupov heads another strong NHL Draft class coming out of the Ontario Hockey League (courtesy of OHL Images)
Last year, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins effectively ended the OHL's dominance atop the NHL Draft when he was selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers. This year, the Oilers may start a new streak by calling an OHL player's name with the first pick for the fifth time in six years.