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: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the Edmonton Oilers' first pick, and the first overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft. (Vincent Muzik/Icon SMI)
After a pair of seasons at the bottom of the standings and the top of the draft, the Edmonton Oilers managed to climb one spot, finishing 29th in the league, however Lady Luck smiled on them when the draft lottery came around and they will be selecting first overall for the third consecutive season this year in Pittsburgh.
Photo: Forward John Huberdeau is the top prospect for the Florida Panthers and one of the top forwards not currently playing hockey at the professional level. (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)
Below is the final part of Hockey's Future's 2012 Spring Organizational Rankings. The rankings were determined by taking each NHL team's entire prospect pool into consideration as well as the likelihood those prospects are to meet their maximum potential. For reference, each team's top five prospects are included, as well as the players they have graduated, traded, or added to their pool over the 2011-12 season. To be eligible, a player must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice each season, in the fall and spring.
Photo: Edmonton Oil Kings' defenseman Martin Gernat upends the Shawinigan Cataractes' Vincent Arseneau at the 2012 Memorial Cup. Gernat is one of three Edmonton Oilers prospects playing for the Oil Kings (courtesy of Terry Wilson/CHL Images)
The Edmonton Oilers and their fans may be forgetting what the playoffs look like. But at the lower levels of the game, Oilers' prospects are getting a lot of quality post-season experience this year. While the parent club hasn't played a post-season game since losing Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, when they make it back to the post-season they'll have players with plenty of non-NHL playoff experience to draw on.