NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced the results of the 2012 NHL Draft Lottery from five to one on Tuesday night, and for the third time in six years, the worst team in the league did not win it.
The Edmonton Oilers will be the first team on the clock for the third consecutive season, after winning the lottery with the second best chances heading into the evening. Columbus, who has already been through enough this season, did not secure the first overall pick despite holding the best chance to win the lottery.
Through all these hardships, the one silver lining seemed to be that their year-long sentence in the NHL's basement would be rewarded with the consensus top prospect, Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting. Well, think again Jackets fans.
The lottery, which was televised on TSN and NBC Sports Network, seemed to be a tale of two facial expressions.
Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini could hardly keep his surprise and excitement to a minimum, displaying a silly grin almost as if to say "Wow, we have absolutely no business picking ahead of Columbus."
Look at him. You can literally hear his thought process. "No, seriously Bill. Stop it. I almost feel bad for ol' Scotty Howson here. No really I do. Okay, I don't. This is freakin' awesome."
The camera was unable to find Columbus general manager Scott Howson when they officially announced they'd be picking second. We can only assume he was stomping his feet and sulking off camera.
The first team Daly announced was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will pick fifth, just as they were slotted in the final regular season standings. General manager Brian Burke may have aired all Leafs fans grievances without even saying a word:
Hey Brian, can you show us your bitter beer face? Oh, wait. Nevermind. Great job on that.
Yakupov has been firmly in the top spot of every Central Scouting ranking as well as virtually everyone's mock drafts all year long. But with a wealth of young stars at forward that include the previous two first overall picks, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as well as Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner, it's not a sure thing that Tambellini will go with Yakupov.
Now let's face it. Edmonton, and not Columbus, having the first pick makes the next two months much more entertaining. It's no secret that the Oilers need a cornerstone defenseman. Will they ignore that need again in 2012 and take the best player available? Will they pass on Yakupov for Everett Silvertips blueliner Ryan Murray? Perhaps they'll trade down for one of the slew of defensemen expected to be taken in the top 10?
Mystery surrounding the top overall pick is a good thing for the league. Say what you will about the lottery system, and how the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals would've been different if Patrick Kane was playing for Philadelphia and not Chicago. But in 2012, it's added more excitement to the days and weeks leading up to the draft we haven't seen in years. Nobody seems to be complaining about it, either.
Oh right, except for Columbus. Our bad.