a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Saturday, 18 June 2011

06/18/11 41.0 Fourth Overall Pick in Play

Lou Lamoriello

Think back to the time when you were a little kid waiting for Christmas Day; the day when you could finally open up all the presents that had been under your tree for what seemed like forever. Oh sure, you might have had an idea what was inside those neatly wrapped boxes - even a pretty good idea. After all, you'd issued a list of potential presents that were on your Christmas radar. But that didn't lessen the excitement as you counted down the days. For fans of a 30th place team, the week leading up to the NHL Entry Draft is a little bit like that.

It's the one day where the team that was most insignificant throughout the regular season gets to hold all the cards, and make decisions that can affect every other team. The man pictured above currently holds the 4th overall pick in this year's draft, which would make a wonderful addition to the Oilers' bounty this year.

This article appeared on Monday, in which Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello did not discount the idea of trading the 4th overall selection. This, despite the fact that this pick is the highest that New Jersey has had since taking Scott Niedermayer third overall in 1991.

We get some clues from Lamoriello's words as to what it would take to get the fourth pick overall. The GM says that he won't move this pick just for the sake of acquiring additional picks (which the Devils would not otherwise have in round two). For the Oilers, that means that trading a combination of 19th and 31st overall to get the #4 pick will not fly.

The troublesome thing is that the Devils will want a defenseman with the 4th pick if they can get one that suits their needs and has a high enough talent level; which, of course, is what the Oilers will want with that pick as well. But what makes the remote possibility of a trade not so incredibly remote is the Devils' need of a puck-moving, offensive type of defenseman.

Adam Larsson
 Adam Larsson will no doubt be seen as a strong option if he's still available at #4, but would the Devils be interested in moving down a few spots and taking Ryan Murphy instead? The highest scoring Devils defenseman this season was Andy Greene with 4-19-23 in 82 games. In fact, New Jersey got just 18 goals from its defense all year, and a paltry 88 points spread out over ten defenders. Adam Larsson is not likely to improve much on Greene's offensive numbers, but Murphy certainly could - both now and in the future.

The Devils won't make the trade if the talent level drops too much from where they are picking to where they would be picking after a deal. It seems highly unlikely that the Oilers could move all the way from 19th overall to somewhere in the top ten, so the Oilers would need to acquire a top-ten pick another way.

Again, we return to Hemsky. If the Oilers feel that he's too much of an injury concern and his chances of re-signing are in question, then they could move him to Columbus for the 8th pick. New Jersey would have been picking in that spot anyway if they hadn't won the lottery, which means they might be open to moving down that far. The Oilers don't have much to offer New Jersey in terms of roster players, but perhaps moving down only four spots would be a small enough drop for Lamoriello to accept the 8th and 19th picks as compensation.

The deal ultimately shakes out as Hemsky and the 19th pick for the 4th overall pick, with the intent being to take Adam Larsson. However, the Oilers really end up trading Hemsky and Penner for Adam Larsson (plus Tuebert and a third rounder next year), which is a lot to give up. That deal could either make the Oilers' brass look like geniuses or fools in the coming years.

All of this is just words for the moment, and the chances that a deal of this kind actually gets done are small. Still, the reason that General Managers come out and publicly say that their pick can be had is because the picks can be had for the right price. Nugent-Hopkins and Larsson would be a coup for the Oilers, and it could make this draft one that solidifies the rebuild.

Oiler fans will go to sleep on June 23rd with visions of a number one center and a number one defenseman in their heads. Will they find themselves with both the following day?

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