The wins and losses are sorting themselves out and it looks like the Edmonton Oilers will be picking 2nd overall at this year’s entry draft. It’s a very interesting slot, because Columbus ranks #1 overall before the lottery and "Fail for Nail" may not play in Ohio. It sets up an interesting opportunity for the Oilers.
Nail Yakupov is the best available player in this year’s entry draft. His OHL totals (39, 30-36-66) run through Desjardins’ puts him at 82, 19-23-42. This is "in the range" with Hall/Seguin in their draft years. I cannot imagine an NHL team passing on Yakupov, even if he was born in the Kremlin. Should Columbus decide to pass on him, I imagine new GM Craig Patrick will deal the pick for another lottery position and something sweet.
Which might mean the Oilers trade up from 2nd and draft Nail to go with their hammers up front (I am so sorry. Seriously). A top 6 of Hall, RNH, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner and Nail Yakupov is an embarrassment of riches.
I don’t think it happens that way. I believe the Edmonton Oilers are too traditional as a franchise to think in those terms. 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).
I believe they do it again this season and pick Ryan Murray. Don’t follow my thinking?
WALK THIS WAY
- Is this about the Oilers and Russians? A little bit. The Oilers spent a pick on Alexei Mikhnov in the first round back in 2000 and Alexander Ljubimov in the third round, same year. That was the first year of Kevin Lowe’s regime and the Oilers don’t send ships into the White Sea anymore. In the past 5 drafts Edmonton has chosen players from Slovakia and Belarus, but the last pure Russian selected was Alexander Bumagin (6th round, 2006) who plays in Nizhnekamsk (the proud home of Russia’s petrochemical center).
- But they’d take Nail? Sure, if they drafted 1st overall. The kid plays in the OHL and everything about him suggests he wants to be an NHLer. I don’t think it’s wise to pass on that kind of talent and Stu MacGregor would be hard pressed to explain away passing on this player if he’s available.
- The 2nd best player is a Russian too. Well, that’s where the debate begins. Mikhail Grigorenko plays in the QMJHL and is a big, strong center. He is not the offensive equivalent of Nail (53, 38-42-80) but has terrific vision. As the season has developed, some scouts are less enthusiastic about this player and I think he may fall from the 2nd position.
- But why Murray? Well, 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,”
- Murray is an older prospect in this draft. I think the Oilers may feel that’s a positive, that he’s more advanced than a player like Oscar Klefbom. It seems to me the Oilers might think his age is a positive because they need a defenseman who can catch up to the cluster.
- Matt Dumba is going to be a killer. Maybe, but he’s not a big player and certainly not big enough to stay healthy with his style of play.
- Murray can’t stay healthy. He was injured early in the season, but recovered in time for the World Juniors. He has played 28 games since January 6th, so health seems to be back on track.
- What’s his scouting report? A nice one is here.
- Could this change? Sure. Hell, maybe they like Morgan Reilly is a player they prefer, but I don’t think they’ll take Dumba and I don’t think they’ll take the Russian Grigorenko.
- What is Murray’s NHLE? So far this season (on a poor team) Murray is 39, 9-18-27. NHLE is 6-11-17, or about equal with Brandon Gormley in his draft year.
- Meh. Murray is more than the offense. He emerged at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka, has at least one exceptional skill (footspeed) and has the tools to be a quality 2-way defender. His numbers are skewed partly because the team he plays for is a poor one. His Everett club trails the Oil Kings in the GF department by 111.
Things can change, Murray won’t have a playoff run to showcase his talents and that might factor in to the Oilers decision. In my opinion, based on the Oilers as a management group, based on their draft tendencies, based on the Oilers preferences in the skillsets of their defensemen, I don’t think they pass on Ryan Murray.
Even at second overall.