TRUST, BUT VERIFY

Lowetide
May 22 2013 06:24PM

It took absolutely forever for the Edmonton Oilers to embrace Mother Russia at the draft, and we're still wondering if it's a short term detente. Last season, the Oil plucked brilliant winger Nail Yakupov #1 overall, and incredibly, may have an opportunity to draft another elite talent from the same part of the world this summer.

In historic terms, two Russians drafted by the Oilers in the first round? in successive seasons? Impossible. And yet, it could happen a month from now.

Since 1979, Edmonton has draft 346 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
  • R Nail Yakupov, 1st overall in 2012
  • L Daniil Zharkov, 91st overall in 2012

24 Russians out of 346 draft selections. About 7%. If we excluded the Russian kids (like Yakupov and Zharkov) who played their junior in Canada, the 24 Russians are now reduced to 16, or 4.6%. Minute.

Maybe the Russian Yakupov can change all that.

RUSSIA--WOMEN WITH HATS!

It might get some getting used to--poor old Rod Phillips got all the Finnish names, maybe Jack Michaels will get all the Russian ones--but today's news that Valeri Nichushkin will forego his KHL contract and is willing to sign with his drafting team is a huge item. Jonathan Willis put it very well this morning:

  • Willis: Now, not only is it more likely that the Oilers still have the option of picking Monahan when pick number seven rolls around, but if Nichushkin somehow does slide he should be more attractive both to them (long-term, a 6’4” winger with high-end talent certainly could be a fit on the Oilers’ depth chart) and to other teams if they decide to trade the pick down as general manager Craig MacTavish has suggested.

I think today's news is huge. The Oilers were staring at a Monahan v. Zadorov decision--and that was best case scenario. If we assume the draft goes like this:

  1. Colorado: Seth Jones
  2. Florida: Nathan Mackinnon
  3. Tampa Bay: Jonathan Drouin
  4. Nashville: Sasha Barkov
  5. Carolina: Elias Lindholm
  6. Calgary: Sean Monahan

The Oilers can either draft Nichushkin or trade down/the pick and get much better value. Nichushkin's offensive numbers aren't killer, but a look at his KHL player card reveals a time-on-ice total that suggests he was playing depth minutes:

The numbers tell the story. The young man played 8 minutes a night during the regular season, scoring 4 goals in 18 games. Moved up the depth chart for the playoffs, and he played 12.5 minutes a night and scored 6 goals in 25 games. Buddy averaged 10 minutes a night in basically half a season and scored 10 goals in a very good Russian major league.

Oh. And he's 18, 6.03, 201.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The reports on Nichushkin's freedom are manna from heaven for the Edmonton Oilers. Absolutely music! The Oilers must make sure it's true, and then act accordingly.

Can Edmonton ever become hockey's Moscow west? One thing: we don't have to explain the weather!

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 Dangilitis
May 22 2013, 09:44PM
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Smokey wrote:

Ya Rick Nash has blown chunks in the playoffs, so has Seguin, James Neal has been crap. So what. I'm talking the skillset.

Ditto on that, I'd like a Rick Nash on my team most days.

On the topic of Seguin, he still has one point in 11 playoff games. Of all 343 players who have played in the playoffs at least a game, that puts him in a 64-way tie for 194th (or in a 3-way tie for 17th of 22 players on the Bruins, with half as many pts as Shawn Thornton). Pts per game, he is tied for 251st out of 343 players this playoffs. That is not blowing chunks, that is just flat out abysmal.

Hall didn't even have a good showing at the Worlds, playing virtually no PP time and sometimes only 10 mins or less, and still scraped out 3 pts in 8 games.

Seguin scored 6 pts in his first 2 playoff games, but has scored only 5 pts in his last 28 playoff games. And this production has come even while playing winger with a great 2 way center and a scrappy 3rd rounder who has scored 9 pts in his last 17 playoff games.

Taylor makes his own case for why he is the better player, but Seguin is starting to show why he does not deserve to be in the discussion

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#2 Jonathan Willis
May 22 2013, 09:14PM
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I don't have much to add, but just wanted to say I absolutely love the title of this post.

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#3 FSD
May 22 2013, 07:06PM
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If I'm TB I would have a hard time taking Nichushkin over Drouin. No

Nashville may want a center rather than a winger and there is the Russian factor which might come into play but every situation is different.. If I'm the GM of Nashville it is a big risk picking the Russian. No

Carolina has said they like Lindholm, they could use wingers and Dmen, however Semin plays for them . Maybe

Calgary- like Monahan also like Lindholm. They could use a center. I could see them considering Nichushkin. Maybe

Edmonton- need a center but Monahan and Lindholm could be gone, need D, pretty high pick for a Dman. Nichushkin if available BPA. Yes

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#4 pelhem grenville
May 23 2013, 10:06AM
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...as well im glad youve gone back to the ballet moniker...the Taylor Hall question was making my brow furrow til it bled...

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#5 The Soup Fascist
May 22 2013, 06:38PM
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I would be Belosheiken in my boots if I had to face Yakupov and Nichushkin as two thirds of a second line on a regular basis, once these guys have a couple of years under their belts.

... but that is a lot of brightly painted eggs in one basket. Who represents Nichushkin? Is he another Larionov disciple?

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#6 John Chambers
May 22 2013, 06:49PM
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Trade down. Let someone else take the risk while we obtain a valid NHL player and a mid-round pick.

Eg 1st and Paajarvi to Wpg for Enstrom and their 1st

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#7 Smokey
May 22 2013, 06:55PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

RICK NASH LW

2012-13 New York Rangers Playoffs 10 1 3 4 0

You mean ^ this Rick Nash?

Let's try to set the bar a little higher.

Ya Rick Nash has blown chunks in the playoffs, so has Seguin, James Neal has been crap. So what. I'm talking the skillset.

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#9 Todd
May 22 2013, 09:12PM
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Slightly off topic, but staying with the Russian theme, I see Burmistrov wants out of Winnipeg. I have no idea what kind of player he is like, but I see he is 6'1", C and 21 years old and was an 8th overall pick. Thoughts anyone?

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#10 T__Bone88
May 22 2013, 09:52PM
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@Todd

for center depth it wouldn't hurt to take a chance on the player even if he played bottom six on the wing. Winnipeg has no leverage on the trade and I don't think many teams would look into trading for Burmistrov. Best I would offer would be Teubert and Hamilton for Burmistrov.

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#11 horndog77
May 22 2013, 09:56PM
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Im not big on drafting another winger. Edmonton needs centers more than anything, but with this recent news maybe teams ahead of Edmonton might be more willing to trade back because of the talent pool. Still hoping for Sasha!

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#12 15w40
May 22 2013, 10:25PM
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A.V. still has 2 years of couch pay coming to him from YVR.

He is not going to come to Edmonton to play 2nd fiddle to Max Headroom.

Trying to trade up to get Barkov should still be the plan if possible.

I still don't see how its possible to have all of #4, #14, #64, and #93 all on the roster when they are a successful team. You can't get the players they need to round out the defense and address the holes up the middle by offering up all your 1B and lower players.

Probably 90% or more of the trades posted on here wouldn't even be considered if the players were switched going the other way.

I can't see #93 going because they are weak at centre. Hall is likely the future "C" and so that leaves #14 or #64 going away at some point

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#13 Citizen David
May 23 2013, 07:08AM
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oilabroad wrote:

I dont see the russian still on the board, I think Carolina take him, Calgary will take the big center (Monahan) and we get Lindholm... regardless, this is good news for the Oil, I thought we might just miss out on that top tier. Would love to see the oil throw in Gags to trade up to Barkov

I'm not so sure Barkov > Lindholm and Gagner. For me, I'd rather have the two players.

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#14 The Beaker
May 23 2013, 08:47AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...K i'm lookin' at the top ten prospects and Lindholm's NOT listed B ... so upon further review> i was gawking at the north american skaters list ...WTF ...why do they do that ?

who does Lindholm replace on the north american skaters list and where does he come in ... BUT if I had the chance to take the Monohan kid over a Swede...guess who i'm takin'? Monahan i tell u MONAHAN!!!

Most people seem to rank him above Monahan and put him about the 6th spot. He is supposedly more talented but is smaller than Monahan. I havent seen more than highlights for either so im not really qualified to say much more than seems to be the consensus.

Seems like:

1. Jones 2. MacKinnon 3. Drouin 4. Barkov 5. Nikuschkin 6. Lindhom 7. Monahan.

Personally, I dont see the big deal really. Calgary is going to pick a junior high school kid from texas and we'll have our pick of Monahan or Lindholm.

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#15 DSF
May 22 2013, 06:40PM
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What is his NHLE?

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#16 Smokey
May 22 2013, 06:40PM
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I think I'd be shocked if Calgary passed on Nicky if he was available. The Oil would have to take him at seventh. I can't see a smooth skating 6'4''power forward who some compare to Nash making it past 7 teams. I think Carolina will bite cause he'd look pretty damn sexy on Eric's line. And if Carolina takes someone else and Feaster doesn't Janikowski this pick and take Nicky then the Oil will get that coveted center.

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#17 yessir
May 22 2013, 06:41PM
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I've heard questions on his hockey sense and vision. Maybe his bull mentality can over power that if he just crashes the net and gets some dirty goals. But I've read he sometimes takes those perimeter shots, similar to Paajarvi (or how he used to)

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#18 Ausadian
May 22 2013, 06:42PM
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I would hope this news, once verified, quashes any and all notions of a trade down for multiple picks strategy.

I am still not adverse to using the pick for an established player and, as the article suggests, this should only increase the quality of the potential player being returned.

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#19 geno
May 22 2013, 06:48PM
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Smokey wrote:

I think I'd be shocked if Calgary passed on Nicky if he was available. The Oil would have to take him at seventh. I can't see a smooth skating 6'4''power forward who some compare to Nash making it past 7 teams. I think Carolina will bite cause he'd look pretty damn sexy on Eric's line. And if Carolina takes someone else and Feaster doesn't Janikowski this pick and take Nicky then the Oil will get that coveted center.

apparently even Stu Macgregor said CGY wants Monahan.

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#20 The Soup Fascist
May 22 2013, 06:48PM
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Smokey wrote:

I think I'd be shocked if Calgary passed on Nicky if he was available. The Oil would have to take him at seventh. I can't see a smooth skating 6'4''power forward who some compare to Nash making it past 7 teams. I think Carolina will bite cause he'd look pretty damn sexy on Eric's line. And if Carolina takes someone else and Feaster doesn't Janikowski this pick and take Nicky then the Oil will get that coveted center.

RICK NASH LW

2012-13 New York Rangers Playoffs 10 1 3 4 0

You mean ^ this Rick Nash?

Let's try to set the bar a little higher.

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#21 Jake
May 22 2013, 06:54PM
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Why do we assume the draft goes like that?

3, 4, 5, 6 , and 7 could pick Nichushkin.

The one thing I worry about Nichushkin is his defensive play. If he can play a two way game I would take him at 7 if available.

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#22 Walter Sobchak
May 22 2013, 06:56PM
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Ya! But is he a bolshevik! I like them Marxists bastards!

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#23 Will
May 22 2013, 07:14PM
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If the draft goes like many predict, and he is there at 7, and we are not trading our pick for a very good player in return as well as a first round pick. I hope to god someone in the oilers brass has the sense to draft BPA and take a kid that would go top 3 if he wasn't Russian. Yes, he's another winger, but he's a winger with size and skill who would probably fit so nicely on a line with Yak. Hall can't do it all, and having depth like this would create a team in a new mold. Unlike the pens of the world who have deep superstar 1 and 2 centres who make their wingers way way better then they have any right to be, the Oilers would essentially have 4 superstar calibre wingers, and one superstar centre. If you put any centre with some size who could win faceoffs and keep up speed wise at our number two, that would be two powerhouse lines, of which has not been seen since the dynasty days.

I would hope MacT of all people could construct a shut down grinder third line that cycles (Horcoff, Magnus, Hartikinen) and an energy forechecking fourth line with some utility players and grit. Anrtipov, big Russian veteran centre who's only 33, isn't too injury prone, and excels playing with skilled Russian wingers. Oh and he's a UFA this year. I wonder what Gagner could bring back in a defensive trade, and imagine if we combine that with a big free agent defensive signing.

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#24 JJ
May 22 2013, 07:16PM
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LT,

Given that Craig Mactavish had a working relationship with Alain Vigneault, do think there is a possibility they would explore the idea of making AV the head coach?

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#26 OilersBrass
May 22 2013, 07:32PM
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JJ wrote:

LT,

Given that Craig Mactavish had a working relationship with Alain Vigneault, do think there is a possibility they would explore the idea of making AV the head coach?

Vigneault had the most boring system in Vancouver. I couldn't even imagine the kids on the Oil playing that way.

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#27 JJ
May 22 2013, 07:33PM
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LT,

How do you think Oilers rank these 3 players? If given the choice who would they pick?

Lindholm

Monahan

Nichushkin

I realize this is the time of year for poker.

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#28 JJ
May 22 2013, 07:43PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Absolutely. Although we may not like Vigneault (I know many Oiler fans who can't stand him) the guy has had success and is certainly a quality NHL coach.

I'm not suggesting they fire Krueger, but you have to look at every option in an effort to make the team better.

I believe in giving people a fair shake when they accept a job. Krueger seems to me like a teacher or a sports psychologist. A well liked person who might not be the right person for the job. Communication is vey important but in a result oriented business winning is the only thing.

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#29 2004Z06
May 22 2013, 07:46PM
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Any thoughts on Burmistrov on the second line with Yak and Nichushkin? I think that would be a killer Russian line. Yes I realize that means Gagner and PRV need to move or be moved....Maybe for a D-man? Burmistrov is available.

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#30 voom4
May 22 2013, 07:54PM
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JJ Out of them 3 lindholm is probably considered best player available, hopefully thats what calgary thinks also

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#31 madjam
May 22 2013, 08:05PM
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BPA if available @5-7 slot is Nicushkin hands down .

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#32 Citizen David
May 22 2013, 08:08PM
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JJ wrote:

LT,

How do you think Oilers rank these 3 players? If given the choice who would they pick?

Lindholm

Monahan

Nichushkin

I realize this is the time of year for poker.

I think the Oilers would take Monahan. I'd take Lindholm.

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#33 Citizen David
May 22 2013, 08:09PM
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Having a better player availiable at 7 would also increase the return on trading that pick...

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#34 madjam
May 22 2013, 08:10PM
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Flames fans think they can get number 4 pick for Glencross and their extra two first round picks . I doubt we would even give them our seventh round pick for that ? Would you ?

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#35 Cheap Shot Charlie
May 22 2013, 08:35PM
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Am I wrong in thinking he is over-hyped? What do other GM's think of the Russian kid? I'd trade if it's a reasonable offer.

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#36 Taylor Gang
May 22 2013, 08:43PM
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I wouldn't want Lindholm over these two. Two days ago I wanted Monahan, then Nichushkin, then Lindholm. Now I think Nichushkin is my number one, he would be our top 6 with size winger who slots in behind Hall, plus we all know Yak would love a Russian buddy.

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#37 geno
May 22 2013, 08:44PM
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OilersBrass wrote:

Vigneault had the most boring system in Vancouver. I couldn't even imagine the kids on the Oil playing that way.

well it wasn't minnesota/calgary/nyr boring, and it got them to gm7 of the scf in '11. AV helped VAN succeed. I'd love to see him take over Buchberger's job if possible. Eventually take over krueger

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#38 Taylor Gang
May 22 2013, 08:46PM
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madjam wrote:

Flames fans think they can get number 4 pick for Glencross and their extra two first round picks . I doubt we would even give them our seventh round pick for that ? Would you ?

I think that's pretty good. Glencross is a very good third liner.

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#39 Rama Lama
May 22 2013, 09:02PM
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I think Calgary would draft Valarie just so Edmonton does not get him........my sense living here in Calgary is Feaster is tired of being told about all things Edmonton when it comes to "re-tooling".

The Flames took a lot of heat drafting this kid Janowski and they will play by the book on this upcoming draft. I highly doubt Feaster will do anything but follow conventional wisdom when it comes to his selection.......and take whomever is next on the major scouting report lists.

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#40 madjam
May 22 2013, 09:08PM
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Oilers need big body Nicushkin , seeing as A. Sutton just retired !

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#41 WhattaMike
May 22 2013, 09:19PM
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I like the Oil's positon at #7 now moreso with the new Nichushkin decion although moving up is way better.

LT,

That being said, Nichuskin would be a hell of a pick for Edmonton....with playing on a line with Yak.....but.....is Gagner right for centring those two or does RNH move in the line with them, and then Gagner (if nit traded) goes with Hall and Ebs?

Now...also with being in #7 place right now, it is still excellent to have either Lindholm or Mohahan...right there too, with addedly... Pulock, Nurse or Zadorov available.

I like Lindholm picked (if Nichushkin gone) for at centre on Line #2 right now.....with Yak and maybe say, Horton, Stalberg or Bickell.

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#42 Nick
May 22 2013, 10:35PM
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I wonder how Elias Lindholm compares to. Filip Forsberg.

Fillip really fell in the draft and probably for a good reason

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#43 madjam
May 22 2013, 10:42PM
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Nicushkin unlikely to be next Malkin or Ovechkin , but he may turn out to be the next Yakuchev - whom Canada always had a hard time containing all his skills and size . Yakuchev was one of the best .

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#44 Toro
May 22 2013, 11:26PM
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ANYONE but Lazar! But I just have this feeling the Oilers are gonna trade down to grab this dud. Then ill officially hate Mac T.

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#45 OilLeak
May 22 2013, 11:31PM
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Nick wrote:

I wonder how Elias Lindholm compares to. Filip Forsberg.

Fillip really fell in the draft and probably for a good reason

Lindholm has more offense and was playing in the SEL, Filip Forsberg was playing in Swe-1.

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#46 Hammers
May 22 2013, 11:53PM
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What this may mean is McT can go down 2 or 3 spots and get a player for right now . Plus get a good "D" prospect like Nurse or Ristolainen . All kinds of options if there is a top 7 .

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#47 oilabroad
May 23 2013, 06:54AM
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I dont see the russian still on the board, I think Carolina take him, Calgary will take the big center (Monahan) and we get Lindholm... regardless, this is good news for the Oil, I thought we might just miss out on that top tier. Would love to see the oil throw in Gags to trade up to Barkov

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#48 Citizen David
May 23 2013, 07:34AM
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Here are the World Junior Highlights of Lindholm. I like what I see. I see a player, who as every scouting report says, competes hard and has a lot of drive. I see a skilled playmaker, and a player who knows to drive the play to the net.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m4x9D3uRqEU

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#49 pelhem grenville
May 23 2013, 07:40AM
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...thought this team needed help @ CENTRE ! ! !

There are only two centres on the top ten list...we ain't gettin' MacKinnon soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

do what it takes to get Monohan !

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#50 michael
May 23 2013, 07:50AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I don't have much to add, but just wanted to say I absolutely love the title of this post.

Reaganism at its very best. The other one I love is "Star Wras". The Russians were so afraid of a space based defense system that they essentialy conceded the arms race and went on there merry way to democracy. For all those who like to use GPS that you can thank Reagan's administration for also. All those shuttle missions were not just doing tomato experiments.We all sleep better at night because of a man who believed in "Trust,but Verify". If Nicky is available at 7 I don't even blink when I call his name. Its a no brainer. Size and skill. What is the issue with drafting a guy who is 6'3 205? Add some Alberta beef and some home cooking from Yakupov's mom and the boy will just be tickey boo. Will the Oilers perhaps keep NK in the organization as a player liason if they decide to go Russian? Roving goalie instructor/liason. NK would serve that role well. Especially if you use him to scout the KHL.

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