Oiler President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe joined Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now Friday afternoon.
The Oilers were the big winners at Tuesday's NHL Draft Lottery as they won the right to select first overall for the third straight year. Since Tuesday there's been talk about the Oilers possibly trading the pick. Lowe says a trade is unlikely.
"We're going to select one, if another team wants to come to us and absolutely knock our socks off, well, have at 'er," Lowe said. "We've had such great success with our two previous picks that it's going to take a lot for someone to convince us not to pick one and if they do happen to do that, then we've got lots of time between now and the draft in June."
The number one rated North American skater is Sarnia Sting winger Nail Yakupov who scored 69 points in just 42 games this season in the Ontario Hockey League. Yakupov is considered far and away the best prospect in the draft. Lowe says the Russian has tons of skill as witnessed at the recent World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton and Calgary.
"When you can perform at the World Junior level when you're younger than those other players, it's a 20 year-old tournament and those two years of development mean so much," Lowe explained. "And to be able to perform the way he did in a tough environment. I was in Calgary at the game when the Russians beat Canada, my eyes were on him a lot and he was a fired up kid. Incredible amount of emotion when it looked like they were going to beat Canada, that's a nice thing to see. He's got the skill, he's got lots of emotion but he's got the skill and the ability to back that up."
Soon Lowe will be heading to Europe for the World Hockey Championships as he's serving as General Manager of Team Canada. Lowe has named former Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter as the bench boss for Canada. Lowe says hiring Sutter was an easy choice considering his great record internationally leading Canada to two World Junior Hockey Championships.
Sutter's name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for head coach Tom Renney whose contract expires at the end of June. General manager Steve Tambellini says he'll give Renney some time off and speak with him in a few weeks. Lowe says he agrees with Tambellini's method.
"I love Steve's approach and sometimes he might get criticized because he's taking his time at things." Lowe explained. "He's a very thoughtful person, he likes to consider everything. You can look at the job the coaches did many ways. As a team we made improvements in every department, it's hard to argue with the job the coaches did. Power-play, penalty kill, goals for, goals against, improvement in particularly our young players. That's what you want out of your coaching staff."
The World Hockey Championships start May 4th in Finland and Sweden while the NHL Entry Draft is June 22nd and 23rd in Pittsburgh.