Igor Larionov talks Yakupov, Galchenyuk and the 2012 Draft

Andrey Osadchenko
June 05 2012 07:04PM

After talking to Nail Yakupov, the Nation Network's Andrey Osadchenko had a chance to sit down with his agent (and Hockey Hall of Famer) Igor Larionov.  Larionov represents not only Yakupov, but another player - Alex Galchenyuk - in contention for a top-five spot at this year's NHL Entry Draft. 

AO: How did you start working with Nail Yakupov?

IL: I talked to his father, Rail. I went to Nizhnekamsk to see him play three years ago. I wanted to get him to know better. I didn’t want to chat on the phone; I wanted to have a face-to-face talk. I talked to his family and himself. We discussed who he wanted to be and where he wanted to play. And we came to a conclusion that he wants to play in North America. He went there a few times for short tournaments and friendly games. He really liked it there. My job was to find the best possible team for him. I picked the Sarnia Sting. First of all, it’s with a one-hour drive from Detroit [where Larionov lives]. Second of all, the team is owned by Dino Ciccarelli’s family, and I played with him. Besides, they already had [Alex] Galchenyuk.

AO: How important is this?

IL: It is very important for Russian players to be in the right conditions and right hands to develop. You can’t just put a guy on a random QMJHL, OHL or WHL team. You have to be very picky about it or the guy will be lost. It’s very important for me that my guys are close to me. I want to be able to help them right away if they have any problems.

AO: Is it fair to say Yakupov has exactly what you want to see in a player?

IL: Nail is certainly very talented. In everything. He’s always been a stand-out kind of person – even when he was a kid. He wants to be a leader. I spent a lot of time with him these past two years in Sarnia and I always saw this trace of character in him. It’s a good thing. He always wants to be the best, which means he’s getting to his goal little by little. There are other things he has developed – he responds to reporters in the right way. Besides, he doesn’t get excited about the draft that much anymore. He can’t control when he’s going to be picked – first, second or fifth. I understand it. These kids don’t. At his very first press conference in Sarnia he said: ‘I want to be #1, I want to be the player in the CHL and I want to help my team to win the championship’. All these years he did exactly what he said he would. He proved it not only with his talent, but with his work-ethic. He ‘lives’ in every shift. He steps on the ice and he enjoys playing hockey. He gives 120% every night.

AO: And that is something you like the most about him?

IL: Yes, indeed. I think hockey is a very simple game but a complicated one at the same time. In certain circumstances the players lose their valuable skills. My job - with all my knowledge of hockey and respect – is to talk to head-coach and general manager and explain to them how they should properly use players. It’s my priority. Before I put my player on any team, I’ve got to make sure what sort of team this is, who works in this team, what concept of player development do they have and so on. It’s really important that not only the player developed his talented and got familiar with North American type of hockey. There are no 17-year-old players who know everything. They think they do but they don’t. They say that 27-year-old Ovechkin has problems with his defensive game. What do you expect from an 18-year-old kid?

This is why it’s so important to make sure there are no misunderstandings with the coach. Every time I talk to a coach I point out that it’s very important for the kids to develop in the right way. They must use the opportunity to its maximum. They need to develop the skills they already have and learn new ones. Plus they need to be able to improvise.

AO: In Russian junior league – MHL – both Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko were third-liners. Why? Was their talent overlooked back home?

IL: I’m not in a position to comment this. I don’t live there. Sure, I visit Russia and I am Russian. One thing I can say is that here the talent gets noticed. Here you’re given time to show what you’re capable of. Maybe they were under the radar in Russia because there they want older guys to play more. Maybe they thought it was too early for them to play on that level; I don’t know. This is what we‘ve got now, though – they weren’t noticed there, but here everyone can see they’re really good. You may not be ready physically, but if you’re ready moral-wise, psychologically and you feel like you’re ready to play – why shouldn’t you play? Here they trust you more and you can play. In North America the level of competitiveness is really high. I think the CHL has a better level of play than MHL. This is what I think. And I watch hockey here and there.

AO: You said it’s important that whatever team picks Yakupov, they need to make sure they need him. Do you think the Oilers need Yakupov?

IL: I talk to all NHL GMs. The day before this interview I talked to Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe. They really like Nail. However, at this point they can’t promise anything. The same goes for Columbus. Scott Howson, Craig Patrick and Tyler Wright spent two days in Sarnia with Yakupov and his family. It’s a serious indication they really want him. Usually if you want to get a player, you treat him as you would treat a stock. If somebody wants to buy your company’s stock, they’re going to run full research first. You invest in a player, and he is going to represent your team for years to come.

AO: What did the Oilers tell you?

IL: Tambellini told me: ‘We like him. We want him. But we’re going to make a decision the day before the draft’. I also know the Habs want to get one of my guys – either Nail or Alex [Galchenyuk]. So do the Leafs. It is possible that the Leafs are going to trade their draft pick and get both of them. There is a possibility like that. Nail and Alex went to New Jersey for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. After this they met Leafs GM Brian Burke. Then Nail met with the Habs.

I look at the draft a little different. I look at the big picture. I don’t care when are they going to be picked. I want them to be picked by teams that play their kind of hockey. Because they have a bright future ahead of them. I want them to be in the right hands and in the right atmosphere. Whether it’s Columbus, Toronto or Islanders – it’s not important to me. The NHL is a very successful league, it’s doing well. I know these kids. I see how they work. I don’t see any problems for them. They’re going to be okay.

Recently by Andrey Osadchenko

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Russian hockey reporter who moved to Canada to find himself right in the middle of hockey madness. @AOsadchenko
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#1 SlyHolla
June 05 2012, 07:08PM
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I'm confused...

How could the Leafs trade away their pick and draft both of them ??

How is that possible ?

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#2 DSF
June 05 2012, 07:15PM
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SlyHolla wrote:

I'm confused...

How could the Leafs trade away their pick and draft both of them ??

How is that possible ?

They trade a roster player(s) to the Oilers for first overall.

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#3 Lowetide
June 05 2012, 07:20PM
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BRILLIANT article. Thank you so much, Andrey.

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#4 OilerLand
June 05 2012, 07:29PM
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Wow, so the oilers like Yak but can't promise anything? actually yes they could promise everything.

Oh Brian Burke. Of course he wants both.

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#5 MVParkerknox
June 05 2012, 07:29PM
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Steer clear of Brian Burke and his foolishness....we have almost assembled the perfect assault team. Nail MUST be drafted.

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#6 Cutterov
June 05 2012, 07:36PM
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If that is true what Tambo said "we like him...we want him" I think that is a true indication of what we will hear on June 22... The Edomnton Oilers are so proud to select from the Sarnia Sting Nail Yakupov and I for one am excited...add some size in our top 6 and we have the best group of Forwards in the league....

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#7 ALEX STEENBERGER
June 05 2012, 07:37PM
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DARREN DREGER (TSN) :

Reported today that a trade in the works between Brian Burle and Steve Tambellini: JAKE GARDINER - NAZEM KADRI - (G) JONAS GUSTAFFSON - 5th Overall 2012 Pick for OILERS 1st Overall Pick and (G) Olivier ROY

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#8 MVParkerknox
June 05 2012, 07:39PM
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@ALEX STEENBERGER

DON'T DO IT TAMBO I ALREADY HATE YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!

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#9 nullterm
June 05 2012, 07:41PM
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@DSF

I wouldn't trade Yakupov for any three players from the Leafs. Not sure what Burkie is thinking other than trying to get some attention.

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#10 nullterm
June 05 2012, 07:42PM
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ALEX STEENBERGER wrote:

DARREN DREGER (TSN) :

Reported today that a trade in the works between Brian Burle and Steve Tambellini: JAKE GARDINER - NAZEM KADRI - (G) JONAS GUSTAFFSON - 5th Overall 2012 Pick for OILERS 1st Overall Pick and (G) Olivier ROY

No... nnnnnnooo.... NO.... nnnnnno.... noooooo.... NO! NNNNNOOOOO!!!!

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#11 R. Heeger
June 05 2012, 07:45PM
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@ALEX STEENBERGER

I heard the exact same trade rumor coming out of Toronto but waiting for Kevin Lowe and Darryl Katz approval first. Personally I think it's an awesome trade. Insert Nazem Kadri with the boys. Insert The Monster with Dubnyk. Insert Jake Gardiner on the blueline. An quite possibly insert Filip Forsberg or griffin Reinhart. Welcome home boys. Welcome home.

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#12 Romanus
June 05 2012, 07:46PM
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nullterm wrote:

I wouldn't trade Yakupov for any three players from the Leafs. Not sure what Burkie is thinking other than trying to get some attention.

No kidding. A guy drafted in Gagner's year that can't crack a leafs line up. A goalie that hasn't been able to put 2 games together? No thanks.

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#13 revingev
June 05 2012, 07:48PM
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None of those players from Toronto would I trade for by losing the potential star we can have in Yakupov. Oilers do a trade like that and the backlash will be severe

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#14 OilerFreak
June 05 2012, 07:52PM
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ALEX STEENBERGER wrote:

DARREN DREGER (TSN) :

Reported today that a trade in the works between Brian Burle and Steve Tambellini: JAKE GARDINER - NAZEM KADRI - (G) JONAS GUSTAFFSON - 5th Overall 2012 Pick for OILERS 1st Overall Pick and (G) Olivier ROY

Finally Tambellini has done something right. Needs mommy an daddy to say yes first. I heard that same trade talk with TO and Edmonton on Sportsnet. I say I would rather pry PK Subban out of MTL.

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#15 nullterm
June 05 2012, 07:56PM
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ALEX STEENBERGER wrote:

DARREN DREGER (TSN) :

Reported today that a trade in the works between Brian Burle and Steve Tambellini: JAKE GARDINER - NAZEM KADRI - (G) JONAS GUSTAFFSON - 5th Overall 2012 Pick for OILERS 1st Overall Pick and (G) Olivier ROY

Is there a link for that?

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#16 Mvparkerknox
June 05 2012, 07:58PM
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Gardiner and the pick are the only real prizes in this deal the rest are throw in no impact nobody's. Not worth a stud like Yakupov. I would lose my freakin mind if this happened! I'm already losing my mind at the thought of some people thinking this is a good deal!

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#17 BusterBread10
June 05 2012, 08:00PM
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ALEX STEENBERGER wrote:

DARREN DREGER (TSN) :

Reported today that a trade in the works between Brian Burle and Steve Tambellini: JAKE GARDINER - NAZEM KADRI - (G) JONAS GUSTAFFSON - 5th Overall 2012 Pick for OILERS 1st Overall Pick and (G) Olivier ROY

The only reason Olivier Roy was drafted was because people thought he was related to Patrick! Good riddance! He sucks! I would love to get the Monster out of Toronto. Imagine Dubnyk an Gustaffson in out crease. I CAN'T WAIT!

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#18 Tha Legion
June 05 2012, 08:03PM
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I can't find this anywhere

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#19 Puritania
June 05 2012, 08:16PM
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Nor can I Legion. Nothing on TSN, twitter from Dregs or anywhere else that I can see.

Hopefully this is just a cruel, cruel joke.

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#20 Archaeologuy
June 05 2012, 08:18PM
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Puritania wrote:

Nor can I Legion. Nothing on TSN, twitter from Dregs or anywhere else that I can see.

Hopefully this is just a cruel, cruel joke.

Cruel indeed.

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#21 R. Heeger
June 05 2012, 08:20PM
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Of course the Oilers are denying this. THEY DENY EVERYTHING. Like Renney getting fired. Then it happened. Just like Brent Sutter getting hired. Everybody and their dog knows Brent Sutter is the Oilers next Head Coach. So why is Tambo denying everything. And the Toronto-Edmonton trade today. I heard that nothing is official with the trade unless Kevin Lowe and big boss Darryl Katz say it is. Mr. Burke is waiting with his fingers crossed.

We the fans watch them and buy the gear. And go to games and support this team so it's not fair that mr. Secret has to lie to us.

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#22 Tha Legion
June 05 2012, 08:22PM
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Evil!!!!!!

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#23 Jonathan Willis
June 05 2012, 08:23PM
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@BusterBread10

Olivier Roy's first professional season actually compares pretty well to Devan Dubnyk's.

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#24 ruok
June 05 2012, 08:24PM
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I believe that tweet is BS. It's not on twitter. I hope an offer like that is all that tambo would look at though.

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#25 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 05 2012, 08:26PM
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Edmonton not having Galchenyuk on their prospect list speaks volumes about the Oilers amatuer scouting. It brings me comfort that they've been spayed/neutered and now are forced into taking the BPA. First overall is like having someone else do your homework for you and you still get the credit.

That trade with the Leafs is abysmal. Why trade a hundred dollar bill for 3 twenties?

It's lie back and think of England time in Oilersnation. Don't screw this up Steve, just walk up to the podium and take Yakupov.

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#26 DoubleJ
June 05 2012, 08:26PM
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If the Oilers get Gardiner that would up the chances of landing Schultz a lot. Not too sure if I like the deal. Gardiner has only played one season. Too soon to make this kind of decision. Probably a junk rumor.

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#27 BusterBread10
June 05 2012, 08:27PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Olivier Roy's first professional season actually compares pretty well to Devan Dubnyk's.

If you had to choose between Jonas Gustaffson and Olivier Roy: who would you choose and why?

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#28 Jonathan Willis
June 05 2012, 08:28PM
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As far as I can see, there's no actual evidence that Darren Dreger ever reported that rumour, let alone that the Oilers denied it.

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#29 MVParkerknox
June 05 2012, 08:28PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Olivier Roy's first professional season actually compares pretty well to Devan Dubnyk's.

Tyler Bunz is going to be our stud. Roy can go. But sure as hell not in this deal. YAKUPOV MUST STAY

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#30 Jonathan Willis
June 05 2012, 08:30PM
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@BusterBread10

Roy. Because he might not be a terrible NHL goalie.

Gustavsson has played 107 NHL games and has a 0.900 SV%. That's terrible. Gustavsson isn't a player I'd have any interest in as a general manager, except perhaps as the organization's third goalie.

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#31 MVParkerknox
June 05 2012, 08:30PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Looks like I've been had in my first nation dust up :( All worked up for nothing :((

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#32 Jonathan Willis
June 05 2012, 08:31PM
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@MVParkerknox

I'm not arguing that Roy is expendable. Heck, at this point Bunz is tradeable is someone wants him bad enough.

All I'm saying is that Roy is on track as a prospect. Which he is.

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#33 Jonathan Willis
June 05 2012, 08:33PM
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Incidentally, this piece was cross-posted at both Oilers Nation and Leafs Nation.

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#34 Professor
June 05 2012, 08:38PM
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I'm not upset with that trade and I'm not excited about the trade. If I'm trading the 1st overall I should be blown away by the trade. Not excited about giving up Roy in the trade. He has the potential to be a decent goalie. Kadri and Gustaffson are horrible players. I'd rather have Khabby in net (and I hate having Khabby in net) and Kadri will be a good AHL player but do nothing at the NHL level. I live in Toronto and see a lot of Leafs games. Gardiner will be a good (but not great) defenseman but would be an excellent addition to the Oilers. I would rather Gardiner and the 5th for the 1st overal. Although if we leave the draft with Gardiner and one of Galchenyuk, Gregs, Murray, Reinhart for Forsberg would that be considered a win? Would you rather that then Yakupov?

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#35 BusterBread10
June 05 2012, 08:38PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Hey Jonathon,

What do u think of the status of both Luke SCHENN and PK Subban and whether they are expendable or not and what would it take to pry these guys out of their respective markets if you were Tambo

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#36 Jonathan Willis
June 05 2012, 08:44PM
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@BusterBread10

I very much doubt that the Habs are interested in trading P.K. Subban. They have a new G.M. and anything is theoretically possible, but I'd be shocked if they moved him.

As for Schenn, his name has popped up in trade rumours the last while. I imagine Toronto would be very willing to offer him if the Yakupov selection was on the table.

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#37 OilerLand
June 05 2012, 08:46PM
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Ya that's a fake twitter account

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#38 Smokey
June 05 2012, 09:19PM
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Is take Gardiner, Kadri, the 5th, TO's first overall next years for Yak or Burkie can shove it. No monstrocity.

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#39 Jason Gregor
June 05 2012, 09:26PM
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ALEX STEENBERGER wrote:

DARREN DREGER (TSN) :

Reported today that a trade in the works between Brian Burle and Steve Tambellini: JAKE GARDINER - NAZEM KADRI - (G) JONAS GUSTAFFSON - 5th Overall 2012 Pick for OILERS 1st Overall Pick and (G) Olivier ROY

This is your first and last warning. Quote a fake rumour on here again and falsely attribute it to a reputable guy and you're blocked.

Childish and ridiculous.

Also those who believed this, you honestly think that moving up four spots in the draft was going to get you Kadri, Gardiner and Gustaffson.

Good Gawd, Nation readers be better than that.

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#40 Jonathan Willis
June 05 2012, 09:34PM
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@Jason Gregor

Actually, I'm pretty sure half the readers here were terrified at the possibility that moving up four spots would only fetch Kadri, Gardiner and Gustavsson :)

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#41 oldhippy
June 05 2012, 09:41PM
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Yeah, I call B.S. It sounded goofy,and besides, Gustavson is a UFA. That said...I would love Gardiner, if it brought us Schultz. I love the thought of another Ryan and a second Schultz. I can hear the play by play"Schultz passes over to Schultz, and Ryan sends it up to Ryan over to Ryan, back to Schultz on the point, over to Schultz on the other point.....

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#42 Archaeologuy
June 05 2012, 09:45PM
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@Jonathan Willis

There's only 1 NHLer in that list of 3. So The Oilers get a horrible goalie, the next Rob Schremp, a solid defenseman, and the 5th best player in the draft.

I'd rather just take the best 18 yr old on the planet and call it a day, thanks.

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#43 Smokey
June 05 2012, 09:45PM
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Relax Gregor. No one believed the rumour. There's nothing childish about speclating on a bogus rumour. It's all in fun. For me personally its just something to BS about. Banning people over this, come on.

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#44 2:00 AM
June 05 2012, 09:48PM
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relax it was a leafs fan trying to scare us :(

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#45 coco crisp
June 05 2012, 09:50PM
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Regardless, if Stevo trades my boy Nail away, I will violently throw up in Wanye's lap. :(

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#46 ALEX STEENBERGER
June 05 2012, 09:53PM
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I think the Darren Dreger account I've been following on my twitter may be a fake then. Why do people do that, create fale account portraying to be someone they are not? This is not the first time this has happened.

As for for Darren Dreger being honest and reputable?? Well thats a whole other issue! I won't touch on that from fear of being blocked forever from OilersNation!

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#47 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 05 2012, 10:03PM
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DSF wrote:

They trade a roster player(s) to the Oilers for first overall.

Hey, I seen you were lying again to try and further your anti-Gagner fetish.

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#48 ALEX STEENBERGER
June 05 2012, 10:05PM
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If u liked the last one you shoul hear the other trade rumor with Boston Bruins coming out of Bob MacKenzies (TSN) fake twitter account

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#49 Wax Man Riley
June 05 2012, 10:23PM
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ALEX STEENBERGER wrote:

DARREN DREGER (TSN) :

Reported today that a trade in the works between Brian Burle and Steve Tambellini: JAKE GARDINER - NAZEM KADRI - (G) JONAS GUSTAFFSON - 5th Overall 2012 Pick for OILERS 1st Overall Pick and (G) Olivier ROY

NO! God! No god, please, NO!

NOOOOOOOO!

↑↑Click me

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#50 Jason Gregor
June 05 2012, 10:26PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Actually, I'm pretty sure half the readers here were terrified at the possibility that moving up four spots would only fetch Kadri, Gardiner and Gustavsson :)

You actually think a team would part with Gardiner and the 5th for the #1? The Oilers would likely jump at that...cause one of Grigorenko, Galchenyuk or Forsberg most likely would be there at #5.

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