BOSTON - With the NHL draft fast approaching, Steve Tambellini is open to dealing the No. 1 selection.
The Edmonton Oilers general manager has had discussions with some of his counterparts around the league and remains willing to discuss a trade leading up to the June 24 draft in Minnesota. It's the second straight year Edmonton has held the top pick.
"I've had a few calls (from) people kicking the tires of how they can help me make the Oilers a better team," Tambellini said Wednesday after the NHL's GMs meeting. "For me to move the No. 1 pick it would have to be obviously something exceptional. Because this is a huge building block again for us.
"These couple years here are exactly the time that we have to put pieces in place that are going to be part of the Oilers success for a long time. It would have to be something quite sweet."
The Oilers management team has yet to reach a consensus on who the best prospect is. A year ago, they essentially chose Taylor Hall over Tyler Seguin, but are considering a bigger pool of players this time around.
Red Deer centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the top-ranked North American skater ahead of Kitchener's Gabriel Landeskog, Saint John's Jonathan Huberdeau and Niagara's Dougie Hamilton. Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson could also be in the mix.
"I think there's at least five players that can be in play and arguably qualify as the No. 1 pick — no question," said Tambellini. "It's different than last year for sure."
Edmonton has finished 30th overall in the NHL the last two seasons. The team last qualified for the playoffs in 2006, when it lost to Carolina in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.