It's time for the Oilers to go scorched earth

The hockey world's mouths fell open in collective shock last night as the NHL's lottery balls worked their magic, and the Edmonton Oilers won the overall #1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Again.

As everybody else across the league tried to figure out what the hockey gods had against say, Buffalo, Arizona, and Toronto, Oilers fans took to social media, crowing in excitement. More than once, the opinion was expressed that Edmonton "deserves" this pick.

No, Edmonton does not "deserve" this number one pick this year - at least not the team management doesn't.

Let's make it clear, however: Edmonton's fans deserve better. The city deserves better than what its team has given it. But that doesn't mean they 'deserve' the number one Draft pick this year.

For most of us, the idea of seeing Connor McDavid end up in Edmonton is somewhat dismaying, and it has absolutely zero to do with the fans or the city itself. The Oilers were once the golden child of the NHL, collecting five Stanley Cups - four of which came during "the Gretzky era" with the team. The Oilers' languishing at the bottom of the standings for most of a decade is a sad legacy of what was once one of the most dominant teams in hockey.

What the Oilers' fans do deserve is to be back in the playoffs, to see their team competing for Lord Stanley once again. Drafting Connor McDavid is not going to be a magic pill that cures all in Edmonton, not without making vast, overdue, wide-sweeping changes throughout the organization.

So the thought of McDavid - widely known as a "generational talent" along the likes of Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby - being drafted into a team where there seems to be no clear system in place to improve the team as a whole, or to develop its players properly, makes hockey fans cringe a bit. Okay, a lot.

Let's roll back the clock a few years and look at the Oilers' round 1 Draft picks over the past several years:

2007 - Sam Gagner (C), 6th overall
2008 - Jordan Eberle (RW), 22nd overall
2009 - Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (LW), 10th overall
2010 - Taylor Hall (LW), 1st overall
2011 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C), 1st overall; Oscar Klefbom (D), 19th overall
2012 - Nail Yakupov (LW), 1st overall
2013 - Darnell Nurse (D), 7th overall
2014 - Leon Draisaitl (C), 3rd overall

In 2008, the Oilers finished 19th overall, and were 3 points out of a playoff position under the old playoff format. It was better than their 2007 spot, but that was the highest they've finished in the standings since 2006, when they actually made the playoffs as an eighth-seed and went on to the Stanley Cup Final, which they eventually lost to Carolina.

Much of that Stanley Cup Final team disappeared off the Edmonton roster in the next year, so it's not surprising that they fell off so sharply. What is surprising is that the Oilers haven't returned to the playoffs in any of the seasons since 2006, and despite an influx of talent, they remain mired at the bottom of the league standings.

When you look at the players the Oilers have collected in the Draft over the past several seasons, there's plenty of natural offensive talent. On paper, when you look at the names that have passed through Edmonton's locker room over these years, one would think that surely, surely, at least once the Oilers could have managed to elbow their way back into the playoffs, somehow.

But if anything, the Oilers got worse. They got so bad that they managed to have the first overall pick three years in a row. They went through coaches the way hockey players go through stick tape.

It's time for Daryl Katz and the Rexall Sports Corporation to go scorched earth on the Oilers the same way that the Toronto Maple Leafs just did.

The GM needs to go. In two years in his position, Craig MacTavish hasn't made any kind of bold moves that suggest true improvement to the club. He needs to be replaced with somebody who has a clear vision and timeline for improving this team, from the players who are still in the junior leagues all the way up to the team on the NHL ice. You can't make tiramisu out of the ingredients for corn bread; you're not going to win a Stanley Cup by going top-heavy on offensive forwards while neglecting defense and goaltending.

Coach Todd Nelson needs to go, and the Oilers need to figure out a way to attract the kind of big-name coaching talent that is reportedly going to be floating around the NHL pool this summer. They need to attract a coach like Todd McLellan, Mike Babcock, Dan Bylsma - a coach who's been to the playoffs, and understand what kind of team culture it takes to get there. While they're at it, the Oilers have to not hesitate to write the kind of check that will bring that kind of coach to town. The entire league knows what a mess Edmonton is, and dangling Connor McDavid isn't a big enough of a lure all by itself. Any incoming coach needs to know that the team is truly doing all it can to change its culture, its development system, and its player recruiting and support system.

And perhaps most of all, the Oilers need to shake out their scouting staff. Let's look at a notable few names of players who were drafted in the top round or two, after the Oilers' picks between 2007 and 2012:

2007 - Logan Couture (C), 9th overall; Kevin Shattenkirk (D), 14th overall
2008 - Jacob Markstrom (G), 31st overall; Jake Allen (G), 34th overall; Roman Josi (D), 38th overall
2009 - Nick Leddy (D), 16th overall
2010 - Tyler Seguin (C), 2nd overall; Erik Gudbranson (D), 3rd overall; Vladimir Tarasenko (RW), 16th overall; Kevin Hayes (RW), 24th overall
2011 -  Gabriel Landeskog (RW), 2nd overall; Jonathan Huberdeau (C), 3rd overall
2012 - Alex Galchenyuk (C), 3rd overall; Filip Forsberg (RW), 11th overall; Tomas Hertl (C), 17th overall; Teuvo Teravainen (RW), 18th overall

Compare this list to the Oilers draft list above, and think about what a different-looking team the Oilers potentially could have been at this point, with even just two or three different players. If there's ever been a question about "Does going number one in the Draft really mean anything?", all one has to do is look at the Oilers and know the answer to that question is "no".

In fact, the Oilers have remained so bad for so long despite so many top-ten picks over the past eight years that the league really should create a rule about it. Or hold an intervention.

Let's look across the Western Conference to another team that was terrible for a number of years, but has had a far different turn of fortune over the same period as the Oilers have had: the Chicago Blackhawks.

In 2007, the Chicago Blackhawks choose Patrick Kane as the first overall player in the Draft. The year before, they had collected Jonathan Toews at number three overall. (Ask the St. Louis Blues how they feel about their 2006 number one pick - Erik Johnson.) In 2003, Chicago had drafted Brent Seabrook at #14.

Did the Blackhawks make first-round busts in the past several years? Absolutely. Among them: Cam Barker (#3, 2004); Jack Skille (#7, 2005); Kyle Beach (#11, 2008); and Dylan Olsen (#28, 2009). But any hockey fan can tell you what the difference is between these two teams is. The Blackhawks haven't picked in the top ten since selecting Patrick Kane in 2007.

The Blackhawks scouts do their jobs and do it well. The Cup-winning teams of 2010 and 2013 are not a result of drafting in the top 10 for a decade -- it's the result of years of thoughtful, well-planned drafting, development, trades, and acquisitions. Almost every one of Chicago's "home-grown" players have spent time with their AHL affiliate, including their highly decorated star defenseman, Duncan Keith (drafted #54 overall, 2002). Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are the two notable exceptions to this.

And what do they have to show for it? Two Cups. Talk of being a dynasty team. Other teams building their teams to beat them.

The Edmonton fans deserve to see a winning team in their home rink. But if the team had been managed and developed properly over the past several seasons, the Oilers would not have even been in a position to win this year's Draft.