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50 years of the NHL Draft - Getting three No. 1s in a row

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Shane McNeil, TSN.ca
6/21/2012 9:57:18 AM
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To commemorate the 50th NHL Draft which takes place Friday in Pittsburgh, TSN.ca looks back at 10 memorable storylines from the history of the event in 10 days. In the final installment of this series, we look at the rare triple play at the draft - landing the No. 1 overall selection three years in a row.

When the Edmonton Oilers made their Cinderella run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, few could have predicted how the following six seasons would turn out.

The Oilers, riding high off the performance of the energetic, gritty and offensively-gifted Western Conference Championship roster looked to solidify its future by locking down several key pieces like Fernando Pisani, Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky and Dwayne Roloson to pricey extensions.

But the team also lost key leaders like Chris Pronger (who demanded a trade) and Michael Peca (who would sign in Toronto as a free agent) in the offseason.

The years since have been disastrous for the Oilers. But the silver lining each summer was landing a Top 10 pick in two of the next three seasons. The Oilers would reach a new low in the 2009-10 season, finishing with the worst record in the league and winning the draft lottery. And for the first time in franchise history, the Oilers would select first at the NHL Entry Draft.

In the weeks leading up to the Draft, the buzz was exclusively focused on the top two prospects - Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. The 'Taylor vs. Tyler' debate raged on for weeks before general manager Steve Tambellini strode up to the podium and selected Hall, who was fresh off a Memorial Cup win with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires.

Hall immediately made the jump to the NHL, joining a pair of rookies that the Oilers also had high hopes for - 2008 first-rounder Jordan Eberle and the 2009 first-round selection Magnus Paajarvi.

The results, however, would be eerily familiar. The Oilers once again bottomed out, tying a franchise-low with just 25 wins over an 82 game season. But fate would smile upon the Oilers once again and the team would win its second consecutive draft lottery to secure the first overall pick. This time, Tambellini took consensus top prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The Burnaby, BC native was a standout for the Oilers last season, registering 52 points in an injury-shortened 62-game campaign and earning himself a nomination for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

The Oilers' growing pains, on the other hand, continued. The team registered 72 points and broke the 30-win plateau for the first time since 2008-09, but still put in the league's second-worst record behind the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The lowly Blue Jackets went into the 2012 Draft Lottery with a 48 percent chance of landing the first overall selection. And as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly unveiled the draft order, it looked like all would go to plan. That is, until he opened the envelope marked '1' revealing the Oilers logo.

Edmonton caught a break and won the lottery, despite having only an 18.8 percent chance of doing so. And they became the first team since the Quebec Nordiques to hold the first overall pick in three consecutive drafts. The Nordiques topped the 1989, 1990 and 1991 events, selecting Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan and Eric Lindros - players they would later trade to acquire the assets that helped lead the club (relocated to Denver as the Colorado Avalanche) to Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001.

Before the introduction of the lottery in 1995, the Nordiques topped the draft order simply by being the worst team in the league three years running.

The Oilers, on the other hand, needed at least a little bit of luck for their No. 1 triple play. Will they add another elite talent to the fold? The answer will come on Friday and Oilers fans will be hoping it's the last time this happens for a while.

Follow the TSN Quizmaster on Twitter and get more from this story as the draft draws closer. TSN and TSN.ca have exclusive coverage of the 2012 NHL Draft on Friday at 7pm et/4pm pt live from the CONSOL Energy Centre in Pittsburgh.

Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Consecutive Years Picking No. 1

3: Edmonton Oilers

(2010, 2011, 2012)

3: Quebec Nordiques

(1989, 1990, 1991)

2: Ottawa Senators

(1995, 1996)

2: New York Islanders

(1972, 1973)

2: Montreal Canadiens

(1968, 1969)

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