TORONTO -- For the fourth time in the past six years, the Edmonton Oilers will have the first pick in the NHL Draft.
The Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday and have the opportunity to select one of the most highly regarded prospects in the past decade, Erie Otters center Connor McDavid.
"Exciting time for our organization," Oilers assistant general manager Bill Scott said. "We're obviously very excited for our fans, too, that have stuck with us over a number of years where we haven't had the success and that's why we're in this position now. Obviously we feel very happy about the future and where this team is going. We're certainly going to get a tremendous player here with the first pick overall this year."
The Oilers picked first in the 2010 NHL Draft and chose forward Taylor Hall. In 2011 they picked forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and in 2012 they selected forward Nail Yakupov.
McDavid, considered the top prospect since Sidney Crosby was picked first by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005, is regarded for his speed and game-changing potential. He finished third in the Ontario Hockey League with 120 points in 47 games, nine points behind the league leader playing 21 fewer games.
"He's not only the most productive junior player but he's also the most dynamic," Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said. "When you're in the position we've been in throughout the year, you think [winning the lottery] is a possibility. Going into the evening I was pretty resigned to the fact that it was fairly long odds that it was going to happen. And then, holding my iPad over here in Switzerland with my palms sweating as we get by [the Carolina Hurricanes] and we get by [the Toronto Maple Leafs], to have [NHL Deputy Commissioner] Bill Daly say we have a winner is a pretty spectacular feeling."
Daly revealed the draft order team by team, backward from No. 14, while McDavid watched from a waiting room to see who would win the first pick.
"It was a pretty weird couple of minutes there," McDavid said. "I was sitting there in the room with my family. They were flipping the cards and at any moment it could turn and your life changed forever. If it is Edmonton [who picks me], it'll be unbelievable."
McDavid would potentially have Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov as No. 1-pick teammates.
"It's going to be a dream come true and it’s a great situation to be in," McDavid said. “They have had fan support even through a little bit of a tough slide they have gone through for a few years. The fan support they still receive is amazing and the group of guys they have there is pretty special. If it happens to be me that is selected there it would be a tremendous honor to step in with a group of talent like that."
McDavid is in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs with Erie; he has 11 goals and 23 points in nine games.
"The focus for the Oilers, not that it wasn't entirely there with some of the players we have and some of the players that are developing, but it sure turns the focus on the Oilers as a team to be reckoned with in the future," MacTavish said. "I think offense wins hockey games and we're going to be loaded with it and this is another piece along to that end. It's so important to our franchise on so many fronts."
The Oilers have had a top 10 pick in the NHL Draft every year since 2010 but have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006.
"For me and the other guys that are over here [in Switzerland], and certainly all our fans, it's been some pretty lean times over the last number of years, but this is going to go a long way to ending those," MacTavish said.
Author: Joe Yerdon | NHL.com Correspondent