June 22 2012 12:34PM
At around 5:05 p.m. Edmonton time the Nation will either explode in excitement if the Oilers draft Nail Yakupov, or we'll set an all-time comments record if they take Ryan Murray instead.
Here in Pittsburgh all the speculation is that the Oilers will take Murray. We won't know until draft time if that's true, but I won't be stunned if they take him based on the buzz here in the Consol Energy Centre in Pittsburgh. Murray will be a solid player, but if they do take him I think they'd be making a big mistake.
The optics would be brutal, but more importantly he isn't a lock as the best defender in the draft. Morgan Rielly, Griffin Reinhart and Mat Dumba are on par with Murray, and many scouts and GMs that I spoke to here in Pittsburgh have been raving about Rielly.
Not one draft ranking had Murray rated first overall, it was mostly Yakupov while a few had Alex Galchenyuk rated #1. I respect the different scouting services. They are paid to scout the kids, and if none of them had Murray ranked #1, why would the Oilers?
Yakupov is the best winger, and in most scouts eyes the best player, in the draft. He's incredibly skilled, lightning fast and he has great hands. History shows that your odds of landing a superstar forward are much higher in the top-five, while the best D-men can come from anywhere in the first few rounds.
Taking Murray would seem like a safe pick, rather than the right pick at this point. Ultimately, we won't know for a few years if he turns out to be the best of his draft class, but the perception will be that they picked him because he was at the World Championships. Whether that is true or not, likely won't matter for some.
The Oilers have already made up their mind who they are taking, and they'll make it official at 5:05 MST, and once the announcement is made there will be no middle ground from fans.
They will either love the pick, or they'll be outraged. Outrage should not be part of the equation.
When was the last time a team drafted a player that wasn't ranked #1 by any scouting services?
If they choose Murray I will have lots of empathy for the young man, because going first overall should be a wonderful moment, but I don't think the Oilers fanbase will be as excited as they were in 2010 and 2011. And that will be unfortunate for Murray.
Keep in mind that in 2009 there were lots of rumours that the Islanders were going to take Matt Duchene instead of John Tavares, and it didn't happen. All of this Murray talk might just end up being rumours. We'll see.
- Scott Howson is willing to move the #2 pick. He has been very open about it, and I wonder if the Oilers could offer enough to make a "Brian Burke" splash and walk away with the first two picks. Would they move Hemksy and something for the #2 pick? Would the Blue Jackets make that deal? I don't know, but it would be exciting if the Oilers found a way to get the first two picks.
- Spoke to four different head scouts yesterday and all of them were raving about Morgan Rielly. They love his skill-set, but all of them were extremely high on his character. He'll need a lot of character if the Islanders take him.
- Who would you take out of Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan or Jordan Staal? You could make a solid argument for all three of them.
- A reminder about draft parties today. You can get a sweet Oilersnation.com T-shirt and party with Wanye at the Pint Downtown today, or you can tip a few back with Jason Strudwick at the Pint Off Whyte. With Struds you could win $500 if you can choose the first five picks in the correct order. Both parties will be a blast.