TOP DRAWER

Lowetide
November 28 2012 05:26PM

 

There was a time in my life when this hockey card was my prize possession. I hid it in a shoe box, top drawer of my dresser, and Orr was hidden at the bottom--I felt thieves would go after the Leafs and Golden Seals at the top. I had the entire set (that's a story for .another day) but the Orr card had special value. He was my hero, but he was also the very best player on the very best team--the Boston Bruins of my youth. 

Choosing Orr as #1 among men like Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Wayne Cashman, Johnny McKenzie, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith, Gerry Cheevers and Derek Sanderson was easy--Orr was so unique as a player even the older men would tell you he was the bet hockey player alive in 1971. (Note: My Mom threw the entire shoebox out my first summer working away from home. Seriously. The entire 1970-71 collection--Ken Dryden's rookie card was part of that collection).

I think we all have our own personal "pecking order" for our favorite teams. Take the current Oilers. Our man Wanye clearly values his Jordan Eberle bobblehead beyond any other, while I believe Taylor Hall is the top drawer talent. I've read many posters online suggest "the Nuge" may end up being the best talent--hell Jonathan Willis himself has waxed poetic on that very subject. 

And what of the outsider, the Russian, the Nail? WHAT IF he's the best of the bunch? 

MY "TOP DRAWER" LIST

For me, Taylor Hall has been #1 on the list since this goal in December 2010 (it was in OT, and a winner). He's the first of the kids to push the river, his secondary numbers tower over the others and he's going to be a star in Eric T's "zone entry" revolution I just know it. 

However, that's my opinion. That and $5 get you most of a cup of coffee these days, and there are some outstanding candidates for #1 on this Oilers team. 

  • Jordan Eberle, ridiculous scorer with soft hands. He's so smooth he's Don Juan on ice. 
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, sees the ice and dishes passes so beautifully it borders on the impossible. If he continues his current pace on the powerplay, he'll soon erase the days of "MacTavish powerplays" which features things like a broken Mike York and a healthy Toby Petersen in our 5x4 memory banks.
  • Nail Yakupov, who posted two more assists this morning and is having an outstanding season (18, 10-8-18) for Neftekhimik. 
  • Justin Schultz, the young man who has taken the AHL by storm and given Oiler fans one more reason to be excited for next NHL season.

THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE

My favorite Boys on the Bus member was Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri wasn't far behind. I was in absolute awe of Gretzky, and maybe that's why Messier was my favorite (it also probably didn't help that my buddy Lorne kept saying 99 was better than Orr) but I think there's something else at work here: it is not clearly established at this time which of these young players will have the highest ceiling and which of them will have health on their side. 

Its an interesting question. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Five years from now, we should have a clear order 1-5 for this group. If you ask me which player will end up being the best in the group, my current order is this:

  1. Taylor Hall
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  3. Nail Yakupov
  4. Jordan Eberle
  5. Justin Schultz

 Two things: 

  1. What does your list look like?
  2. Don't tell Wanye I put Eberle at #4. 

 

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 gongshow
November 28 2012, 05:32PM
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LT - I won't even take a guess as to what the order will be. I'm just glad that Mike York, Toby Peterson, Radek Dvorak and Patrick Thoreson are no longer some of our best candidates to fill the ballot positions.

Cheers to the future!

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#2 Reg Dunlop
November 28 2012, 05:46PM
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I still have that Orr card, and my brother-in-law got KD to sign my Dryden rookie card, still my prized possession. Seeing this makes me forget the loss of NHL this year and probably next year too. Many thanks.

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#3 DSF
November 28 2012, 05:59PM
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@LT

What happened to the Klagenfurt Komet.

Isn't this the year he becomes Sam Gilmour?

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#5 Tayranchula
November 28 2012, 06:10PM
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For me the list would go like this

Nuge (number 1 center that can take over games and pot 3 points in a period)

Eberle (will always know whats going to come mr consistent (like Iginla has been for the last 10 years))

Hall (injuries will play a huge role in his career IMO. will probably have a better ppg average over his career than Ebs)

Schultz (not sure just have a hunch he will turn into a Phil Housley)

Yakupov (I see him as being the only first overall selection to be traded, just like before only a hunch. will still light the lamp often)

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#6 DSF
November 28 2012, 06:11PM
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Lowetide wrote:

I'd run a little more mix into the batch, DSF. :-)

Adding anything to Fume Blanc would be a hanging offense.

Playing the Bobby Orr card this early is too.

Try a turtleneck.

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#7 ashley
November 28 2012, 06:20PM
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Yakupov will have the best career. Crazy skills. All the tools. Tremendous instincts.

2. Eberle 3. Schultz 4. RNH 5. Hall

Hall's still a good 5 to have on the list, but he is the least skilled of those 5.

His fellow draftee, Seguin, is tearing up the Swiss league. At this point, I think it's clear that Seguin will have a better stats career. Still, the Oil may have known this, and indicated at the draft that they went with character which I think is a great call.

Seguin's a bit of a funny duck by all accounts. Hall's a solid player, a leader with grit. And he can still score his share.

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#8 DSF
November 28 2012, 06:31PM
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ashley wrote:

Yakupov will have the best career. Crazy skills. All the tools. Tremendous instincts.

2. Eberle 3. Schultz 4. RNH 5. Hall

Hall's still a good 5 to have on the list, but he is the least skilled of those 5.

His fellow draftee, Seguin, is tearing up the Swiss league. At this point, I think it's clear that Seguin will have a better stats career. Still, the Oil may have known this, and indicated at the draft that they went with character which I think is a great call.

Seguin's a bit of a funny duck by all accounts. Hall's a solid player, a leader with grit. And he can still score his share.

Excellent analysis but I expect Eberle may edge out Yakupov over time....but it will be close.

I'd wager Hall is playing for another team within 2-3 years and that would be a smart thing to do for the Oilers.

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#9 I tried it at home
November 28 2012, 06:35PM
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Question, what was the story on Mike York coming here, and whats happened to him since then, injuries, etc?

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#11 Johe
November 28 2012, 06:45PM
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DSF wrote:

Excellent analysis but I expect Eberle may edge out Yakupov over time....but it will be close.

I'd wager Hall is playing for another team within 2-3 years and that would be a smart thing to do for the Oilers.

I wager all $31.72 in my bank account that Hall will never be traded. Management loves him. I think that's pretty clear.

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#12 Critter Food
November 28 2012, 06:50PM
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Ebs - amazing awareness and thinks the game better than the others, combined with goal scoring ability Hall - his physical skills perfectly match his leadership attributes Shultz - amazing to even compare a rookie defenceman to these forwards but 1.6 ppg for OKC makes him deserve the hype Yak - has everything to prove to fit into this talented group. I think that will motivate him even more. Nuge - Allstar not superstar

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#13 DSF
November 28 2012, 06:56PM
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Johe wrote:

I wager all $31.72 in my bank account that Hall will never be traded. Management loves him. I think that's pretty clear.

Send the money now.

I'll pay the interest if I'm wrong.

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#14 Muji
November 28 2012, 06:56PM
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It's insane that we get to pick! For the longest time, Hemsky was arguably* our only player on the cusp of "elite".

* I think he is. Most fans don't.

My list:
1. Hall
2. Nail
3. Eberle
4. Nuge
5. Schultz

I want to say that Shultz is the wild card and he might go "supernova" on us. But, honestly, they all could. "Lordy" ;)

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#15 db7db7db7
November 28 2012, 07:01PM
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It's funny, you mention that Orr was was your favorite player, because I seriously think Schultz could end up having the same type of impact, and therefore he's #1 on my list.

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#16 Starving Student
November 28 2012, 07:05PM
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1. Hall 2. Yakupov 3. RNH 4. Ebs 5. Schultz. Hall is probably the least skilled, but his speed, will and determination pushes him above the rest. It just always seems like he's pushing the team and that they play extra hard. Leading by example. Yakupov is probably the next dynamic, but may be the most expendable. I agree with Johe, Hall isn't going anywhere, same with RNH. Why would you trade your centre before another winger? I think management should have learned by know that centres are harder to come by than wingers. Schultz is still hard to project as he hasn't played against legitimate NHL talent nightly yet but imagine he will end up around Ehrhoff's number. Eb's will never leave (Wanye will abduct him, fake his death and tie him up in the manor before he would allow him to leave).

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#17 Wanyes bastard child
November 28 2012, 07:06PM
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All I know is that is one EXTREMELY sick looking number one powerplay unit!

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#18 DSF
November 28 2012, 07:07PM
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db7db7db7 wrote:

It's funny, you mention that Orr was was your favorite player, because I seriously think Schultz could end up having the same type of impact, and therefore he's #1 on my list.

Good grief

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#19 Gazmort
November 28 2012, 07:28PM
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@DSF

Let me guess, Tanev will be closer to Orr than Schultz will, right?

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#20 Giant Squid Overlord
November 28 2012, 07:29PM
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Iv'e been thinking this would be a great nation poll for a while now. It could be done annually and we could watch how players' popularity trends over time. For me...

1. Hall - I agree with the secondary stats. This kid is primed for another level... or 3. 2. Nuge - the PP production and lack of 5x5 has me worried a little, but the VISION. Christ almighty. 3. Yak - Watch out for that shot after finding the open ice with speed, and the Nuge finding him with the wicked. jaw-dropping pass. "Nugent-Hopkins to Yakupov" doesn't roll off the tongue like "Gretzky to Kurri", and it won't happen as often, but I'll never tire of hearing it. 4. Ebs - done so much already, but the ceiling might be higher for those above 5. Sgt. Schultz - "I see nothing" yet in the NHL, but ask me again next year and he could be way up there.

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#21 Path
November 28 2012, 07:30PM
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LT,

In the early 90s hockey card craze, I came across some old cards that my stepdad had as a kid, and he had a decent number from that set (Lafleur's rookie card was also in that set). My friends and I were into the popular sets of the time, Upper Deck, OPC Premier, etc., but that 70s collection proved a nice diversion. My stepdad and I got about 80%-85% of it together though lots of wheeling and dealing, but it's gathered dust since then (albeit not the cards themselves, just the protective covers they're now in!). Seeing the Orr card brings back teenage memories of trying to acquire pieces of that set. And I dare anyone to say that they have an unmarked checklist from any OPC set in that era (it's rather funny how an unmarked checklist can be one of the most valuable cards in a set).

I envy you for having completed it, even if it's gone now.

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#22 DSF
November 28 2012, 07:31PM
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Gazmort wrote:

Let me guess, Tanev will be closer to Orr than Schultz will, right?

Not a chance.

Shultz appears to be a great two way defenseman.

Kevin Bieksa is likely a better comparable.

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#23 Giant Squid Overlord
November 28 2012, 07:32PM
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DSF wrote:

Good grief

x2... hundred.

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#24 Reg Dunlop
November 28 2012, 07:34PM
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I can't believe I agree with DSF. Good grief indeed.

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#25 Gazmort
November 28 2012, 07:40PM
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@DSF

I was just teasing.

Silly to compare any player to Orr.

For Schultz, I'll pray for a Keith/Seabrook (that oughta ruffle some of your Vancouver feathers) and hope he doesn't wind up as a PP "specialist" like M-A Bergeron. Don't see the Bieksa - Schultz isn't as physical.

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#26 Johe
November 28 2012, 07:43PM
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DSF wrote:

Send the money now.

I'll pay the interest if I'm wrong.

Deal! Only thing is, I actually have zero moneys, so...

Oh, and here's my ranking- 1. Hall 2. Yak 3. Ebs 4. RNH 5. Schultz

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#27 Oilertown
November 28 2012, 07:49PM
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DSF wrote:

Excellent analysis but I expect Eberle may edge out Yakupov over time....but it will be close.

I'd wager Hall is playing for another team within 2-3 years and that would be a smart thing to do for the Oilers.

No DSF that is what you hope happens truth is none of the fab five are going anywhere for a long time so get used to them driving stakes into the hearts of your dear Canucks.

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#28 OilClog
November 28 2012, 07:51PM
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1. Hall 2. Ebs 3. Nuge 4. Yak 5. Schultz

Hall is the clear #1. 2-5 is a coin flip.

This group is going to cause pure terror, someone make sure to have a spot in rehab open for DSF when he finally clues in to what is being assembled.

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#29 striatic
November 28 2012, 08:00PM
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Going to take some risks here .. for me it is all about who changes the situation on the ice when they step out there. Who disrupts the other team's ability to execute their game.

1. Yak - I think he's the current best of a new generation of Hockey players. Combines Hall's speed with Eberle's Shot. Disruptive, Generational talent. He score more goals, we win.

2. Hall - The guy might not have Eberle's hands but he's like human flypaper for opposing defenses. Totally disruptive. No coincidence Nuge and Ebs finally "got hot" when he started playing with them again.

3. Schultz - His ability to attack from defense is rare and can completely change the momentum of the game. He may be the most disruptive player on this list but i am unsure how his big minutes, big mileage style will play out over the course of a pro season much longer than what he has been used to in college.

4. Ebs - Sniper, cool as ice. I think he is at the front of a wave of young talent who will change the way we think about shooting percentages routinely above 15%.

5. Nuge - PP and soft minutes wizard, but needs shelter and space to operate in. wasn't even a true top liner in junior. Fortunately has Taylor "Human Flypaper" Hall to create space on an Oilers top line even against tough opposition. FO% going up in the AHL is a very important arrow.

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#30 misfit
November 28 2012, 08:05PM
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I couldn't agree more. There's a scary amount of talent in Edmonton's youth, but Hall is the cream of the crop from where I'm sitting.

I also agree on the Messier note. He was always my favorite too.

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#31 @Oilanderp
November 28 2012, 09:16PM
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1.Nuge 2.Hall 3.Yak 4.Ebs 5.Gagner 6.Schultz

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#32 Randall Shermer
November 28 2012, 09:36PM
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Mom threw out my entire card collection, the best cards in a binder, mind you, when I was at University. The Cleveland Barons and Colorado Rockies and all the Habs and Bruins, and Philly goalies with great masks....gone. Really good collection from around mid 70s to early 80s.

I'm going with Hall, Yak, Nuge, Eberle, Schultz myself. Hall was on the radar since when?

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#33 ClosetGM
November 28 2012, 09:57PM
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Wow if eberle is the fourth best player on the team. Watch out because he is dynamite. The kid just scores goals. May end up being the best of the bunch.

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#34 Eulers
November 28 2012, 10:14PM
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DON'T MAKE ME CHOOSE MY FAVOURITE CHILD, LOWETIDE!!!

[SOBS!!!]

Is it too early to dust off the phrase "it's a good time to be an Oilers fan" ?

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#35 Coco Crisp
November 28 2012, 10:19PM
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1. Eberle 2. RNH 3. Schultz 4. Hall 5. Yakupov

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#36 geoilersgist
November 28 2012, 11:27PM
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1. Eberle 2. Eberle 3. Eberle 4. Eberle 5. Eberle

*I never was very good at multiple choice tests

#SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

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#37 Mojo
November 28 2012, 11:27PM
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1. Hall 2. Nuge 3. Eberle 4. Yakupov 5. Schultz

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#38 hags9k
November 29 2012, 12:00AM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

1.Nuge 2.Hall 3.Yak 4.Ebs 5.Gagner 6.Schultz

Ditto! Beware Gagner.

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#39 Oilers89
November 29 2012, 12:42AM
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ashley wrote:

Yakupov will have the best career. Crazy skills. All the tools. Tremendous instincts.

2. Eberle 3. Schultz 4. RNH 5. Hall

Hall's still a good 5 to have on the list, but he is the least skilled of those 5.

His fellow draftee, Seguin, is tearing up the Swiss league. At this point, I think it's clear that Seguin will have a better stats career. Still, the Oil may have known this, and indicated at the draft that they went with character which I think is a great call.

Seguin's a bit of a funny duck by all accounts. Hall's a solid player, a leader with grit. And he can still score his share.

I see Hall going supernova and dominating Seguin. In the Boston games I have watched Seguin has not been the driver on his line, and he almost looked like a liability (loses the puck a lot). Omark dominates the Swiss league and I'm guessing that Hall would dominate it even more than Seguin. Just a general statement about Seguin I realize you aren't saying we made the wrong choice but in my mind it isn't even close. Hall all the way.

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#40 Nail and Nuge
November 29 2012, 02:59AM
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1. RNH- Should have won Calder if it were not for a freak injury. Pure skill- the machine that drives the other Oiler pistons (Yak, Hall and Eberle)

2. Yakupov- Explosive, Sniper, and Personality. Can't wait to see his "Beauty Fakes"

3. Schultz- The only elite prospect to supply the puck to the Oilers talent.

4. Hall- His numbers look great as someone who drives the play. I am not sold on his longevity. Major shoulder surgery in his second year in the NHL?

5. Eberle- Feel dreadful to let Eberle slip to 5. 76 points in the NHL? Gold. This is just a case of defaulting to 5. The guy is a gem.

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#41 CDean
November 29 2012, 03:10AM
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1. Eberle 2. Nuge 3. Shultz 4. Hall 5. Yakupov

I would like to put Hall up at 2 but I think injury will shorten his career more.

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#42 @Oilanderp
November 29 2012, 03:18AM
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It is like debating which of the neurons contains the most of the genius of Isaac Newton.

*puts on old timey grey wig*

*presses fast fwd on his time travel belt*

Yessssssssss!

This is not going to suck AT ALL! Hockey in June!

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#43 dessert1111
November 29 2012, 08:21AM
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At this point, any order could be argued. I'll go with this today:

1. Eberle 2. Schultz 3. Yakupov 4. Hall 5. RNH

Just nit-picking, but I'd like RNH to win more draws and be a bigger, tougher player for a C. And his even strength scoring isn't nearly as impressive as his PP. Winning more PP draws could have an actual big impact. He could easily be the best of the group, though, and only time will tell.

Hall seems the least skilled, but the most physical, and he can score.

Yakupov's defense needs some work.

I guess Schultz' defense also needs some work.

I find the least amount of holes in Eberle's game, and I would say his shot, play-making abilities and passes are all elite, or at least bordering on it. His skating isn't elite but it's good and doesn't seem to be a hindrance. His defense is slowly improving and I'd put him ahead of all the other guys on this list except maybe Hall, but I'm not sure.

Ask me next week and I might have a completely different order. Ask me next year and I almost certainly will.

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#44 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 29 2012, 08:28AM
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The Mess for sure was the beast of that era for me.

The Gre was always a bit too otherworldly to properly idolize. Mess, with all his wandering elbows, was much more relatable.

I agree with Kurri too. Him and Tik were like an alien snipper/mercenary pair.

Current magic: Hall, RNH, Yak, Sch, Ebs.

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#45 Archaeologuy
November 29 2012, 08:29AM
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#1 Nuge #2 Eberle #3 Hall #4 Yak #5 Schultz

1) Nuge is a wizard. A WIZARD. How he does what he does to Professional Penalty Killers at an age where he is still eligible to play in the Juniour Championships is beyond me. If there was 1 untradable player on the Oilers, it would be RNH.

2) Eberle is an All-Star. He sees the ice like few players in the NHL, he has a killer instict, and he's clutch. And I dont care that "being clutch" is something impossible to quantify. He's clutch. I know it, you know it, the other teams know it. Clutch.

3) I appreciate the motor that never quits, but on a car with no brakes it makes for some dangerous driving. Taylor Hall has some very good qualities. I dont think he has the finishing ability of an Eberle or maybe even Yakupov, but the kid can skate and carry the puck like no one's business. It's too bad that he's injury prone.

4) I've only seen this kid play in replays from the Siberian Leagues. I reserve the right to slot him or Schultz further up this list at a later date. However, his one-timer looks like it could give goaltenders night terrors. I am excited about this player.

5) Too good to be true. That's what I've been telling myself since the rumour first came out that he wouldnt sign with the Ducks and the Oilers were a front runner. That statement has followed his career into pro hockey where he is still too good to be true. How can this rookie defenseman be leading the Barons and the AHL in scoring on a team with Nuge, Hall, and Eberle? Too good to be true.

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#46 David S
November 29 2012, 10:17AM
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I was just a lil kid but still remember there used to be fights behind the monkey bars at recess for this sticker:

http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/9/1/1/9/4/7/webimg/608954647_tp.jpg

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#47 David S
November 29 2012, 10:18AM
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And dare I remind everybody here...

EIGHT POINTS - ONE GAME!

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#48 Benhur
November 29 2012, 10:32AM
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My take is based on the adage that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

I see Jordan as the best due to his terrific career in Juniors, worlds and NHL to date.

Then I think it will be a tossup between RNH and Hall but it will depend on their injury history as I question Hall's ability to stay healthy and RNH's shoulder injury last year makes me nervous.

Yakupov is probably next, as he needs to learn the ropes, with Schultz bringing up the rear.I don't think Schultz will get the ice time that he does now. He will have to learn some defence so his 5 on 5 time will be less than he has had but he should still get some significant PP time (if he has success).

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#49 Spydyr
November 29 2012, 11:15AM
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David S wrote:

And dare I remind everybody here...

EIGHT POINTS - ONE GAME!

Think he may have had a couple OK wingers that game.

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#50 Archaeologuy
November 29 2012, 11:27AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Think he may have had a couple OK wingers that game.

irrelevant

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