COMPLETING THE FAB FOUR

Lowetide
April 23 2012 08:11PM

Since winning the lottery and the right to pick 1st overall in the 2012 draft, most fans and pundits have assumed that the club will pick young Russian Nail Yakupov. Makes sense. He's the most talented offensive player in the draft. But does that mean they'll take him? Is there a chance the Oilers trade down and grab a defenseman as the final member of their draft "fab four?"

I think there's at least some room for doubt in regard to what Edmonton does with the #1 overall pick this summer. The possible scenarios involve:

  1. Keeping the pick and select Nail Yakupov, generally regarded as the best player available.
  2. Trading the #1 overall pick for an established NHLer--likely a defender--still in his entry level deal.
  3. Trading the #1 overall pick for another selection near the top and another asset.

The Oilers may feel this is their last best chance to grab a franchise defender, and they may also feel the "big three" of Hall, Eberle and the Nuge are best served by adding a lottery defenseman.

WHAT?? WHAT??? WHAT???? WHAT?????

The Oilers have a tremendous number of "maybes" along the blueline and a blue chipper in Oscar Klefbom plus some nice looking kids in Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat. They do not have a "sure thing" like Ryan Murray and that may be enough to tip the scales in the defender's favor.

DEFENSEMEN ARE NOT A GOOD BET THIS HIGH IN THE DRAFT

The Oilers have spent their recent lottery picks on forwards and have a history of drafting F's with their first selection--the last time Edmonton chose a defenseman with their 1st first round pick was the 1989 draft and Jason Soules. The Oilers took defenseman in the 1st round with their first selection in 1988 (Francois Leroux), 1984 (Selmar Odelein), 1983 (Jeff Beukeboom) 1982 (Jim Playfair) 1980 (Paul Coffey) and 1979 (Kevin Lowe).

It's also true (and has been ably shown by Jason Gregor here at ON) that defensemen are not good bets at the top of the draft table. Still, if they aren't completely convinced Yakupov is the man, there's a window for a defender.

If that is the case, then the Oilers dilemma was perfectly framed by Redline Report and Kyle Woodlief in his most recent USA Today Column:

  • Woodlief: In fact, we think this creates a dilemma for the Edmonton Oilers, who might be the first team to be disappointed by winning the lottery. The Oilers are stacked up front on the forward lines and desperately need a puck mover on the back end to trigger what should quickly become an explosive offense. They could have happily selected a Murray or a Matt Dumba second overall after Nail Yakupov came off the board. But now, how do you sell to your fan base using the first pick to take a player with significantly less upside than Yakupov?

MAKE YOUR CASE!

Ryan Murray is the strongest candidate to be the first defenseman taken at the draft. He’s maybe the most NHL ready player in the draft. He has a nice range of skills and can skate. The Oilers don’t need a home run offensive player but badly need someone who will develop into a useful top pairing defenseman. Ken Hitchcock says “he does play like (Scott) Niedermayer."

I think the Oilers may feel that Murray's age is a positive, that he’s more advanced than a player like Oscar Klefbom. The fact that Klefbom will sign his entry-level contract but stay in Sweden another year perhaps adds to the case for Murray. The Oilers may feel this is their last best chance to grab a defender who can develop with the forward cluster.

They may feel he can join them in the fall.

IS THERE ANYONE ELSE?

Yeah, I'd say Griffin Reinhart is a draft wildcard at this point in time. The guy started the year as a top 15 option but has climbed steadily on most draft lists. A team like Edmonton likely prefers Murray for his speed, but Reinhart's improvement and added aggressiveness later in the season has probably turned some heads. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? 

Like I said at the top, I understand that history is a great teacher and the odds of Edmonton getting full value for a defenseman selected in the top 3 or 5 is not strong. Still, with the big three already in the stable, something tells me this organization will think long and hard before passing on Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart.

One final thing: the fact that Ryan Murray is being considered for Team Canada is a pretty huge tell in this story. I'm not saying the Oilers are going to take him, but at least someone in the Oilers management group thinks highly of him.

I'm suggesting there's a chance the Oilers are thinking of a way to get Ryan Murray at the draft. There is the thread of a story here, if not a full story. Something to keep track of as we roll along.

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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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#51 Sliderule
April 24 2012, 09:11AM
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Desjardines NHLe is an average number which only gives you an accurate figure for the average player.the players we are drafting in the lotto are high end players that pull the average up.

That's why I went back on the drafts from the last ten years and checked figures for forwards drafted from CHL who jumped direct to NHL

Yak is an older draftee like Hall and Landeskog and they should perform better on the jump so I used the figures from there true 17 year old season two years before the draft. Hall at 17 1.42 pts/game x.5 gives .7pts/game actual .65 Landeskog at 17 .75 pt/game x.5 gives .4 pts/game actual.63 Yak at 17 1.55pts/game x.5 gives .75pts/game

This is just my way of having fun with the draft projections of the high end players

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#52 Badger
April 24 2012, 10:09AM
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I just don't see the value in taking anybody but Yakupov at #1. If none of our d-prospects look good after this year, maybe trade one of Hall-Yakupov-Nuge-Eberle, which ever one you like the least, next year. Yakupov with one year under his belt has to be worth more then Yakupov now (assuming he isn't garbage, which hasn't happened at #1 since '99). We don't need a stud d-man now, we need a stud d-man for 2014.

Another note: Of the last 4 Stanley Cup winners, there was only 4 first rd D-men. Kronwall, Orpik, Seabrook, Gonchar. We need to find a Keith, Lidstrom, Letang, or Chara. We already have 5 first round d-men: Whitney, Barker, Smid, Tuebert, Plante.... and none of them are rock-star, but a few solid guys in there.

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#53 slopitch
April 24 2012, 10:14AM
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Unless a player like OEL is available, they should keep the pick.

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#54 Rama Lama
April 24 2012, 10:18AM
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If there is no way to land a top UFA defenseman, then we have to trade down and pick a defenseman like Murray.

Mr. Dithers has some work to do but if past behaviour is an indication of future behaviour, he will not make a decision on this front.

He is probably looking to extend Belenger.

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#55 michael
April 24 2012, 10:27AM
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Extend Belanger? Too funny. But I see your point about Tambo. He would probably extend Khabby if he had a chance. The man makes some mind numbing decisions that appear to that of a delusional mind. Its like he plays NHL 2012 and then makes his decisions based on the games outcomes. But seriously. All kidding aside I do give Tambo credit for doing the dirtywork that was needed to get us to this point. I would rather be where we are then where the Flames or the Leafs sit. maybe we are the ones who are delusional. I don't know. Matrix? Whats real and what isn't sort of thing. The only thing I know is that when I look at the Oilers option going into this years draft I am pleased that we once agian have the first pick overall. Who knows wether Yakupov or Murray will turn out. But given that SMB is at the helm of the scouting I have less fear of what ST can or will not not do. My faith is more in SMB and less in the ST and Klowe.

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#56 michael
April 24 2012, 10:27AM
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Extend Belanger? Too funny. But I see your point about Tambo. He would probably extend Khabby if he had a chance. The man makes some mind numbing decisions that appear to that of a delusional mind. Its like he plays NHL 2012 and then makes his decisions based on the games outcomes. But seriously. All kidding aside I do give Tambo credit for doing the dirtywork that was needed to get us to this point. I would rather be where we are then where the Flames or the Leafs sit. maybe we are the ones who are delusional. I don't know. Matrix? Whats real and what isn't sort of thing. The only thing I know is that when I look at the Oilers option going into this years draft I am pleased that we once agian have the first pick overall. Who knows wether Yakupov or Murray will turn out. But given that SMB is at the helm of the scouting I have less fear of what ST can or will not not do. My faith is more in SMB and less in the ST and Klowe.

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#57 jake
April 24 2012, 10:30AM
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4, 93, 14 have a combined 5 years playing in the NHL. Each of them have already had at least 2 injuries that have kept them out for decent chunks of time (Eberle not as much). Take the Russian for insurance and don't look back.

(Although the Gagner + 1st for Seguin and Hamilton is intriguing...Boston doesn't do that I would guess)

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#58 Jimmer
April 24 2012, 11:17AM
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@Lowetide

Oliver Ekman-Larsson + PHX's #1 pick next year (not this year)

for

Edm #1 overall pick this year.

The key is to space out our picks so that we can have our "big three" mix in with another 1st rounder still on his entry level deal.

Would PHX go for this?

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#59 Lochenzo
April 24 2012, 12:21PM
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So if somebody is getting rid of their hockey card collection and says you can take one out of the 30 he threw on the table for you, you take the Gretzky rookie card, even if you already have 3. Don't take the Dino Ciccarelli!

Take Yakupov, but work the phones vigorously for a D-man. Yakupov, Paajarvi, Omark, Gagner, the Dman prospects are all trade bait. I'd be talking with every team disappointed with their season. If SJ blows things up, they have no prospects in the pipe and maybe Clowe and Burns could be had for the right mix of youth.

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#60 etownman
April 24 2012, 12:22PM
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I think there are a lot of things in play here. The Oilers are probably waiting to see what Schultz does with Anaheim if anything & if they can get him signed here! By all accounts he is an exceptional d-man who I think is much more advanced that what Murray is. June 1st on will be a very hectic time & that's probably when most of the hard decisions will be made about players!

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#61 druds
April 24 2012, 12:39PM
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"Like I said at the top, I understand that history is a great teacher and the odds of Edmonton getting full value for a defenseman selected in the top 3 or 5 is not strong. Still, with the big three already in the stable, something tells me this organization will think long and hard before passing on Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart."

Sorry LT ...I think your on crack....

taking Murray would be absolute insanity, everyone knows what we need but we dont throw away the number 1 on a the off chance that Murray is Neidermeyer which by the way we could fill a swimming pool with those throw-away coach/scout quotes...(oh he reminds me of _______ (fill in with superstar name).

I do not think desperation hits yet and for that matter why not take Nail then trade him next year when we can better see whats out there. No, in my mind it would be plain stupid to take Murray so early. does not compute....

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#62 VMR
April 24 2012, 12:47PM
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Murray is a safe pick but what exactly does that mean? He's going to be a dependable two way guy, is that much better than where Klefbom projects in a couple years or Marincin/Gernat/Musil?

I think Yakupov is to good a talent to pass up, if they still have holes in the roster I think you can make a better trade in a season or two. Do what Colorado/Quebec did and trade Yakupov for guys that fill those holes. Why gamble drafting a d-man now when you could wait a couple years and see which of those guys actually develops decently.

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#63 bazmagoo
April 24 2012, 01:15PM
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Dman09 wrote:

Penner doesn't use his size effectively yet either.

Penner will be 30 when next season starts. Johanssen will be 20. Johanssen will learn to use his size effectively over the next few seasons.

He's next season's Braydon Schenn, and will break out to solidify his place in the NHL.

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#64 Oiler AL
April 24 2012, 01:31PM
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Take Yakapov. He's of the age and talent as the other guns up front. I would move Hemsky[ if thats possible]. He's 5-6 yrs older than the guns, and is somewhat fragile with his health and confidence it would seem.If theres a market he might be packaged with another player or prosect for a decent defense man or a stud center , like Staal. I wold trade Hemsky and Gagner for Staal.Team really needs to work on its size and grit. I am not talking Stortini types, but guy that can play regular shifts.

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#65 One Time!
April 24 2012, 01:40PM
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Now that Bobby Lu said he would waive his no trade clause would you trade to get him? Gags and the 1st for Kesler and Bobby lu?

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#66 Quicksilver ballet
April 24 2012, 02:02PM
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Have to think Brian Burke still likes Penner enough to bring him to Toronto next season. He'd have to get off to a good start though or it could get ugly quickly there for Dustin.

EL TEA wrote: I'm suggesting there's a chance the Oilers are thinking of a way to get Ryan Murray at the draft. There is the thread of a story here, if not a full story. Something to keep track of as we roll along.

Yakupov AND Murray.... Quicksilver, is that you?

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#67 The Soup Fascist
April 24 2012, 03:17PM
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@ OneTime!

Not sure saddling yourself with a narcissistic goaltender with dubious skill and focus at this point in his career (with 10 more years on his contract, no less) is a move Tambellini makes.

*Pauses to reread post ......

Let me rephrase ....

Not sure saddling yourself with a narcissistic goaltender with dubious skill and focus at this point in his career (with 10 more years on his contract, no less) is a move a smart GM makes.

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#68 Ted Sheckler
April 24 2012, 03:35PM
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Matt Dumba is the best player available in this draft. Dont let the eastern media fool you with draft rankings. Had Ryan Murray not played in the WJC's he wouldn't be ranked as high as he is. Half of Yakapov's upside is his physical play which will all but dissapear at the NHL level when 75% of the players are bigger than he is.

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#69 The Soup Fascist
April 24 2012, 03:45PM
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I think Dumba is a fantastic WHL player and will be a very good pro. Having said that what makes you think Yakupov's physical play will diminish greatly while (the VERY undersized for a D-man) Dumba's will continue on unfettered? Much of Dumba's appeal is his ability to hit in open ice. Not sure how well that will translate when the 17 year old kid he just snot bubbled suddenly becomes a Ryan Getzlaf or Ange Kopitar.

Certainly entitled to your opinion, but not sure how one guy's physical play is effected, while the other continues to flourish.

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#70 vetinari
April 24 2012, 07:06PM
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Take Nail unless someone is willing to overpay for him... and big time! The Oilers can still package up Nail at anytime to fill some holes in the lineup should the need arise.

I think the Oilers' best strategy at the draft is to move some of the surplus, second tier youth for 1st or 2nd rounders or some quality defencemen or a 1B goalie to replace Khabibulin.

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#71 striatic
April 24 2012, 08:10PM
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the Edmonton Oilers are not "stacked up front", no matter if USA Today says so.

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#72 Team Hall
April 24 2012, 08:54PM
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Actually, the Oilers are stacked up front. Or are you one of these Vancouver types that says Hall Eberle, Nuge, Hemsky, Gags are not very good players?

Even if they weren't stacked up front, it is clear the Oil have a much larger hole on defense.

Having said that, I don't think you can pass on a world class talent like Yakupov.

Then you can make trades for that dman,....

Ryan Ellis Luke Schenn

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#73 Jason
April 24 2012, 10:36PM
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Well i like the idea of holding onto it and taking Yakupov unless like has been mentioned prior....if a trade is presented makes sense.

Columbus needs to spark the excitement and their fan base knowing they are losing Nash they NEED this to start selling the franchise again. If possible!

If a trade was offered where we Columbus offered Johansen and the second overall (Murray or Dumba) i think hockey wise you make that deal. Whether Columbus will do it? Or i might be out to lunch?

Johanen could make Gagner expendable which might net us another decent upgrade in another area. Maybe SJ needs to replace Marleau with Gags and we can get Murray or Clowe to add some grit.

In two deals you could potentially have

Johanson, Murray, Clowe or Murray vs Yakupov,Gagner

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#74 OILERSORDEATH
April 24 2012, 11:37PM
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Why wouldn't they do our first plus Gagner for their second and johanson?

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#75 andrewmk20
April 25 2012, 02:27AM
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My only question is what impact would a rookie defenceman make? Even Drew Doughty has struggled for stretches of time during his first four years. The answer for Edmonton is through free agency or trade. The fact is if Tambellini can't get something done means he's not really the guy for the job. There are dmen that can be plucked from clubs who are close to the cap ceiling and given the uncertainty with the new CBA I'm sure negotiations can be had.

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#76 bazmagoo
April 25 2012, 04:32PM
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OILERSORDEATH wrote:

Why wouldn't they do our first plus Gagner for their second and johanson?

Four games does not a career make, but PRV has only 1 point in 4 playoff games so far with OKC. 8 forwards on the team have more (including Pitlick with 4, who by all accounts has looked impressive). I'd much rather have Gagner on the team moving forward than Magnus.

I don't think #1 plus Gagner for #2 plus Johanssen makes the Oilers better immediately, which is what we should be after with this and any trade moving forward. PRV plus #1 for Johanssen plus #2 makes us better right away.

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#77 nuge2nail
April 25 2012, 09:41PM
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Its simple you take the dynamic game changing player - who hopefully is going to change the way some of these games have been going for the oilers the past few seasons.

I cant imagine Murray having more impact on the Oilers season next year than a Denis Wideman or a Matt Carle. The year after one of our prospects will be ready for the NHL and we will have the depth we are looking for. Throw some money at some UFA Dmen, I imagine some NHLers are waking up and will want to play with Hall, Eberle, Nuge and Yakupov.

Everyone seems to forget how good this team looked when our goaltenders were standing on their heads to start the season. Our defence got better with the emergence of Petry as a 1/2, and Schultz being a solid 3/4 option but our goaltending got worse. If we bring in Wideman or Carle, our defense looks like this:

Petry Smid Wideman Schultz Whitney Sutton Potter Peckham Teubert

Ideally Tambellini Drafts Yakupov and signs both Wideman and Carle, Sutton moves into the #7 spot and Whitney into 6 - this will take the pressure off everyone and let the defence play the minutes they are comfortable in.

Draft Yakupov - 30/40 goals a season will help this team win more games next yearr and - winning is what matters.

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#78 TM8Trent
April 29 2012, 11:26PM
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Johe wrote:

If the oilers take anyone other than Yakupov at the draft, there really is something wrong with management and they should be fired immediately. There's no way they win a trade when it involves giving away the first pick.

And people always give the impression that the oilers are overflowing with offensive production, but the truth is they were 19th in goals for last year. You can never have too many goal scorers on your team. And goal scorers don't come along very often. Yakupov is an offensive dynamo, and with him the oilers go from having one very good line to two very good lines. With hall and Yakupov on separate lines, you have a constant scoring threat on the ice for nearly two thirds of the game. It's an absolute no brainer to draft him. D-men can be signed in the off-season. Players with forty plus goal potential cannot. End of story. Case closed. Draft Yakupov.

Agree 100%. Move anyone but RNH, Hall, Ebs, Yak & Smid.

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