April 19 2012 05:11PM
Anatoli Semenov is one of the few Russians drafted by the Edmonton Oilers who also had an NHL career of note. The Oilers have avoided the Motherland like the Moscow Plague and Riot of 1771. Are they really going to change their ways and grab the Russian Nail?
Since 1979, Edmonton has draft 339 players. Of that group, the following were drafted out of Russia or have direct ties to Russian hockey:
- L Igor Vyazmikin, 252nd overall in 1987
- D Vladimir Zubkov, 208nd overall in 1988
- C Anatoli Semenov, 120th overall in 1989
- C Sergei Yashin, 141st overall in 1989
- G Evgeny Belosheiken, 232nd overall in 1991
- L Alexander Kerch, 60th overall in 1993
- F Oleg Maltsev, 241st overall in 1993
- D Ilya Byakin, 267th overall in 1993
- R Dimitrius Sulba, 162nd in 1994
- D Sergei Yerkovich, 68th overall in 1997
- G Alex Fomitchev, 231st overall in 1997
- L Oleg Smirnov, 144th overall in 1998
- R Maxim Spiridonov, 241st overall in 1998
- D Alexei Semenov, 36th overall in 1999
- L Alexei Mikhnov, 17th overall in 2000
- D Alexander Ljubimov, 83rd overall in 2000
- F Evgeny Muratov, 274th overall in 2000
- D Ivan Koltsov, 106th overall in 2002
- F Mikhail Youkov, 72nd overall in 2003
- D Roman Tesliuk, 44th overall in 2004
- L Slava Trukhno, 120th overall in 2005
- F Alex Bumagin, 170th overall in 2006
22 Russians (there might be one or two who slipped through the radar because I counted them as Slovak or they are listed as being from Belarus via hockeydb but are in fact Russian). That's about 6.5 per cent, a very low total when we take into account the incredible amount of hockey talent Russia has produced since the 1980's.
Edmonton has for the most part ignored Russia. They were among the first NHL teams to explore Finland and of course Sweden has been a hot spot for a long time, plus the Czech players make appearances often. Russia? Edmonton's relationship with Russian hockey players is just about the opposite of that enjoyed by the Detroit Red Wings.
You'd have a terrible time putting together a starting lineup of Russians from the Edmonton draft list 79-12. I'd suggest the best Russian pick have been Anatoli Semenov, but after that it's a dog's breakfast.
Russia has not blessed the Oilers with talent, and in turn Edmonton has ignored the hell out of it. Which came first? Who cares?
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There's very little doubt the Edmonton Oilers will select Nail Yakupov first overall. He played in the OHL and has made it clear that his goal is to be an NHL player and he's on record as hoping Edmonton takes him #1 overall.
The Oilers own past will make it will be a rare, rare moment. Perhaps it will be an opportunity to change the past and treat Russian hockey like the enormous opportunity that it clearly is and has been for decades.