January 13 2014 01:53PM
The Edmonton Oilers selection of Nail Yakupov No. 1 overall in the 2012 NHL Entry draft remains a story 18 months later. For one reason or another, the Yak City pick hasn't settled in like the Hall and Nuge drafts. The story got a little publicity this morning, and one wonders if we'll be dealing with it for years.
Bob McKenzie confirmed a well known Edmonton rumor in October, tweeting out that the "majority of Edmonton scouts wanted Murray, and the decision to take Yakupov came from a higher authority.
The story came up this morning when I was on the air at TSN 1260, and I wanted to mention it today. The push from media came courtesy Eric Duhatschek:
- Lots of people in Edmonton believe that owner Darryl Katz had some significant input into the decision to draft Nail Yakupov first overall in 2012 rather than opt for the safer choice, defenceman Ryan Murray, who would have filled a greater organizational need. With every passing day, that decision looks more and more suspect. Murray was limited to 23 games with the Everett Silvertips last year because of major knee surgery, but even as an NHL rookie, has looked good on the Columbus defence, playing a lot with James Wisniewski and providing the defensive presence on that pair. What if Murray turns out to be Alex Pietrangelo good – and they left him on the table to draft another offensive player, of which they had plenty already? How do you assess blame there? Or maybe they already have, since the GM that called Yakupov’s name, Steve Tambellini, is no longer running the show.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I find the conversation surprising. Although there's no doubt Nail Yakupov has struggled this season, Mr. Duhatschek's story is the first time "blame" has been mentioned. Presumptive? Certainly, but it's out there now, and should Nail Yakupov not deliver on promise, the scouting staff would appear to be free and clear.
I'd still bet on Yakupov. All day.
In a period where Oilers owner Daryl Katz is taking some heat for his team's won-loss record, perhaps fans need to be reminded that (reportedly) his draft day decisions are very likely to deliver. It remains very risky to take defensemen at #1 overall, and 45 NHL games don't change that at all.