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Quality over quantity for Oilers

by Brian Compton

OTTAWA – Due to some previous moves, the Edmonton Oilers didn't have a very busy weekend at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, as they finished the weekend with just five selections. After drafting late in Round 1, Edmonton did not pick again until the fourth round.

However, the Oilers are confident that their first-round selection – Regina's Jordan Eberle – will fill a long-term need. General Manager Kevin Lowe also was confident that his team's picks at Scotiabank Place will help give another boost to what he believes is a very talented system.
"I think why we liked him was we felt he addressed a void in our organization in terms of a guy that appears to have pure scoring ability, plan and simple," Lowe said. "That's why you make picks in certain players. You try to address your needs, and that's one need. We feel we have a lot of depth in our organization in terms of forward, goaltending and defense. But in terms of sort of a pure goal scorer, we don't have a lot of them."        

Here is a look at Edmonton’s 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:

No. 22 Jordan Eberle, C, Regina (WHL) – Not much size (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), but the Regina native certainly makes up for it with his offensive ability. In his second season in juniors, Eberle had 42 goals and 33 assists in 70 games.

Eberle also represented Team Canada at the 2007 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and played on a line with Sarnia's Steven Stamkos, who went No. 1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We played on a line together in peewee for a pickup team at a tournament in Boston, and we did pretty well,” Eberle said.

Oilers VP of Hockey Operations Kevin Prendergrast was elated to select Eberle, who was in the team's sights heading into the Draft. With so few picks, it was important for the Oilers to select a player they coveted.

"We came into this hoping we'd get him," he said. "We had three players that we thought were going to be there, and he was the top of the three. This is a kid we came here to get, and we got him."

One day after fulfilling a lifelong dream, Eberle was still on cloud nine. It's not every day you get to play for the team you rooted for growing up.

"It's starting to sink in … it's pretty cool," Eberle said. "The team's so close to your home, and growing up it was my favorite team all along. It's kind of cool getting picked by them. (But) there's a lot of work to be done still."
No. 103 Johan Motin, D, Bofors (Sweden-2) – Stay-at-home defenseman represented Sweden at the World Junior Championships this year, earning a plus-5 rating in six games. Overall, Motin has 27 points in 114 contests since beginning his junior career in 2005.

No. 133 Philippe Cornet, LW, Rimouski, (QMJHL)
– Left wing scored 23 goals and added 26 assists in his second season at Rimouski. That more than tripled his output from his rookie campaign, when he scored just seven times in 46 games.  

No. 163 Teemu Hartikainen, C, Kalpa Jr. (Finland Jr.)
– The 6-foot-1, 198-pound center scored 10 goals in 37 games this season for Kalpa with 24 penalty minutes. He split time between the Junior-A and Junior-B teams last season before playing in Junior-A full time in 2007-08.

No. 193 Jordan Bendfield, D, Medicine Hat (WHL) – Hulking defenseman (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) racked up nearly 300 penalty minutes over the last two seasons with Medicine Hat. Had six goals and 19 assists in 72 games in 2007-08.

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