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May 3, 2012 | 10:15am ET
Oilers might have to keep their No. 1 pick
TheFourthPeriod.com

Ever since the Oilers won the draft lottery to select first overall pick for the third season in a row, speculation suggests GM Steve Tambellini could look to trade his pick prior to June 22.

Highly-coveted forward Nail Yakupov is expected to be selected first overall in this year's draft.

However, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal believes that the Oilers are unlikely to move their No.1 selection, although several rumors have called for a trade involving Pittsburgh Penguins two-way center Jordan Staal.

While finding a big tag-team center to play alongside rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sounds appealing, Staal's contract and its $4.1-million cap hit doesn't expire until July 2013 when he will become an unrestricted free-agent.

TFP has also reported that Penguins GM Ray Shero is looking to re-sign his third-line center, which could make it hard for the Oilers to have a back-room agreement with Staal's agent on a new, long-term contract for Staal prior to the draft.

Furthermore, Tambellini is not expected to trade the No. 1 pick unless they're guaranteed that Staal is coming their way. The 23-year-old could choose to play out his last year in Pittsburgh and become next summer's top free agent with possibly 15 teams looking to sign him, including the Carolina Hurricanes, where he could play with his older brother Eric.

Meanwhile, others have suggested flipping picks with one of the teams in the top five, either with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders or Toronto Maple Leafs, and getting a roster player, like defenseman Jake Gardiner from Toronto or P.K. Subban from Montreal to fulfill their need to bolster up the blueline.

However, the Canadiens aren't likely to accept such a deal as their third overall selection gives them access to defensemen Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, and Griffin Reinhart, centers Mikhail Grigorenko and Alex Galchenyuk, or Swedish forward Filip Forsberg.

Subban, who is a restricted free agent, has been mentioned as a top priority by new Habs GM Marc Bergevin and is most likely an untouchable.

It appears to be the same scenario for Gardiner in Toronto, although the Leafs would benefit from a young forward, but are expected to keep Gardiner and his puck-moving ability for themselves.

As for the Blue Jackets, they are reportedly more likely to refuse a swap for the first pick since they've been burned twice with high-first-round Russians before.

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