The Pittsburgh Penguins got pretty lucky almost a decade ago when they won the NHL draft lottery, which gave them the chance to draft eventual superstar Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins have been able to build around the young center and eventually won a Stanley Cup and are among the league’s best teams in just about every single season since Crosby entered the league.
There’s credit to be given to the Penguins for being able to build the rest of the organization around a generational talent like Crosby, but it’s probably safe to say that they wouldn’t be where they are today without getting the opportunity to draft Crosby.
With the Penguins in Edmonton to play the Oilers on Friday night, it’s a good time to look at the two organizations and which way they’re going as respective organizations. The Penguins are going to remain one of the league’s best, while the Oilers are stuck in what has been a really long rebuilding process. Oilers captain Andrew Ference was asked Thursday if it made sense for the Oilers to look at the Penguins as a model franchise as they continue to try and turn things around.
Andrew Ference on Oilers trying to use #Penguins as a model organization: "It’s tough to emulate winning a lottery and getting Crosby."—
Shelly Anderson (@pgshelly) January 09, 2014
It’s a nice little zinger, but it’s also kind of ironic. The Oilers have had their share of luck when it comes to the NHL draft lottery. Edmonton won the No. 1 overall pick prior to the 2010 draft when they took Taylor Hall with the top pick. Edmonton also found itself choosing first in 2011 when they selected Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall. Oh, and they also found themselves drafting first overall in 2012 when they selected Nail Yakupov.
So it’s not like the Oilers haven’t been able to grab a potential franchise cornerstone (or three) through the draft.