Softening the ground for a Yakupov trade?

There’s a lot to be said about yesterday’s 40-minute long press conference held by Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. One of the things that stood out to me was how careful Tambellini was to emphasize that the first overall pick would be a boon to the organization – whether he kept it or sent it away.

From Tambellini, emphasis mine:

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It presents options. It presents a lot of options to us. You get to be in control of the top part of the draft. You’re able to listen to other teams ideas of moving up or moving down… it just presents I think a wonderful opportunity with this time in the Oilers history when we’re accumulating some elite talented players that we know we’re going to add another significant piece or package when we leave the draft.

The phase, I think, that we’re just coming into, presents us with more comfort, I think, that we can listen to legitimate options. We’ve accumulated a good amount of high-end skill throughout our organization. A lot of it, most of it is not here yet, but it allows us to think about if you move down a pick, if you move down three picks, of adding a solid player and maybe a current player. I don’t know. I just feel more comfortable knowing that our stable is more accomplished than what it was a few years ago.

I’m really open right now. I’m leaving tomorrow night to meet Stu MacGregor at the under-18 world championships and I know that we’re going to go through our top end of our list here. I think we’re in a spot here where if the talent is equitable – you’re not taking an A player for a B player – but if you believe that the potential is similar and the talent and the characters are similar that we’re in a spot where we can discuss by position at this point.

Well when you’re speaking of attaining a player at that point in the draft you know that quality is there. So adding that level of player to your organization, regardless if he plays next year or the year after or the year after that, you know that you’re adding a significant piece. Whether it’s through just the single player or the package that you entertain to possibly also complete. So you know that this is another significant piece to the organization in getting better and everything’s pointing to our organization that things are getting better. That’s a good sign.

Now, those hints are a long way from saying “yeah, I’m going to deal the first overall pick, so you’d best get used to the idea.” However, I can’t recall Tambellini going out of his way to drop these sorts of comments when he was talking about Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Certainly, he didn’t repeat the point as frequently then as he did yesterday.

As an interesting counterpoint, Bob Stauffer wrote a piece for the Oilers website advising the team to keep the number one pick. I tend to think he’s right, particularly after looking at various studies on the value of draft picks. There’s tremendous value in top-five picks, than a steep decline that gets gradually less steep as one gets further into the draft. Put another way, moving from 1st overall to 6th overall is probably a bigger drop in terms of likely return in an average draft than moving from 15th to 30th would be. If that trade’s going to be made, the return had better be spectacular and history shows us that it typically isn’t.

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It’s probably also worth remembering the last time this happened. Florida owned the first overall pick in 2002, and wanted to draft Jay Bouwmeester. Columbus owned the third overall pick and were scared Rick Nash wouldn’t last that long. So the teams made a trade – Columbus moved up to first overall in exchange for granting Florida the option to swap first round picks next year (an option they never exercised. Florida then sent a third and fourth round pick to Atlanta to make sure the Thrashers didn’t take Bouwmeester second overall.

Ultimately, at this point we don’t know what Tambellini is going to do with that first overall pick. If and when he trades it to move down in the draft order, we won’t know if the deal panned out until years down the road. One just hopes that if he does trade down he makes sure that he’s getting more than a second round pick for his troubles.

One Last Thing

It’s been suggested to me that I was something of a rube for believing that Steve Tambellini was sincere back in January when he said he wanted his team to avoid the draft lottery.  Tambellini is sticking by his story – asked about drafting first overall, he quipped, “Well we weren’t supposed to this year.”

Now, possibly, he’s keeping up the story to make it clear that his plans for the team fell through.  It seems simpler to believe, however, that he keeps saying this because he’s telling the truth.

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  • RexLibris

    The only way you deal Yakupov is unless you get an elite level dman that is currently playing in the NHL.

    If you look at the draft trends for the last 30 years, there is 50% chance you get an elite level forward (multiple all-star, HoFer or potential HoF talent) with the first forward picked in the draft. There is only a 20% chance that you will pick a similar type defenseman with the first dman picked in the draft. There should be no way that they trade down to draft, Murray, Dumba, Reinhart or whoever.

    There are so many different ways you can acquire defensive help; i. trade with teams that have cap issues (Pens, Hawks, Sharks, Flyers, Sabers) ii. trade with teams that have abundance of Dmen (Coyotes 6 dman + Gormley, Rundblad & Goncharov ready, Leafs 7 dman + Holzer is ready) iii. FA; Of course we want Schultz. But there are capable top 4 dman; Carle, Colaicovo, Jackman, Zannon, ect .. iv. If a team like the Sharks loses in the first round they might want to blow it up. Dan Boyle has a huge contract 6.667 Mil for two more years.

    Always, draft the best prospect available. As per your article yesterday Quebec picked 3 forwards first overall and were able to turn them into additional assets, that helped land them a Stanley Cup. Worked for Quebec err I mean worked for Colorado right?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      CC: What is your source on the 50%/20% bit? I assume it’s the articles JW linked..?

      I ask because I want to tell anyone and everyone that will listen.

    • Clyde Frog

      Yeah at a time when you could just pay whomever you want, whatever you want.

      Quebec trades don’t happen when you need to balance salary restraints against the cap…

      Any team with an elite Dman we want probably isn’t in a position to trade him for a futures. Only really Boston and Philadelphia have shown any inkling to do this, Boston’s hand was forced by cap issues and Philadelphia’s by off-ice issues (Rumor only).

      But guess what, who won those trades? Right now the team that got the highest pick as both Toronto and Columbus were killed in those trades… Why would we want to repeat their mistakes?!?

  • Don’t worry. Mr. Dithers will not trade the first spot and he will take Yakapov. He knows that he would never be blamed for taken the top choice, however trade Yakapov and he could end up with a large amount of egg on his face. He is just too scared to take a chance so everyone should relax. He will however look at trading Paajarvi, Hemsky and Gagner for some serious players. We need a big strong center for the second line and that should be a priority. Could we trade Gagner and Paajarvi and a draft choice to Toronto for their 5th over all this year and Schen. Then use their pick to take a center, Galenychuk ( not sure of spelling)

  • Clyde Frog

    I’m sort of a draft geek have been since I was a kid. Anyways every year I look through the drafts and put together a list of the top players from years past. Here’s an example of of the 80’s drafts. Haven’t posted it anywhere, alot of this is subjective. But you can definately see a pattern where forwards are the safer pick in the top 5.
    1980’s Draft:
    Best Forward: Denis Savard (3)
    Highest Drafted Forward: Doug Wickenheiser (1)
    Best Defenseman: Paul Coffey (6)
    Highest Drafted Defenseman: Dave Babych (2)
    HoF: Larry Murphy (4)
    HoF: Jari Kurri (69)
    Best Forward: Ron Francis (4)
    Highest Drafted Forward: Dale Hawerchuk (1)
    Best Drafted Defenseman: Al McInnis (15)
    Highest Drafted Defenseman: Joe Cirelli (5)
    HoF: Chris Chelios (41)
    Best Forward: Doug Gilmour (134)
    Highest Drafted Forward: Brian Bellows (2)
    Best Defenseman: Scott Stevens (5)
    Highest Drafted Defenseman: Gord Kluzak (1)
    Best Forward: Steve Yzerman (4)
    Highest Drafted: Brian Lawton (1)
    Best Defenseman: Gary Galley (100)
    Highest Drafted Defenseman: Bob Dollas (14)
    Pat Lafontaine (3)
    Cam Neely (9)
    Claude Lemieux (26)
    Best Forward: Mario Lemieux (1)
    Highest Drafted: Mario Lemieux (1)
    Best Dman: Gary Suter (180)
    Highest Drafted Dman: Al Iafrate (4)
    HoF (Should be) Gary Roberts (12)
    HoF:Brett Hull (117)
    HoF: Luc Robitaille (171)
    Best Forward: Joe Nieuwendyk (27)
    Highest Drafted: Wendel Clark
    Best Dman: Calle Johansson (14) / Eric Weinrich (32)
    Highest Drafted Dman: Craig Wolanin
    HoF: Igor Larianov (214)
    Best Forward: Vincent Damphousse (6)
    Highest Drafted: Joe Murphy (1)
    Best Dman: Brian Leetch (9)
    Highest Drafted Dman: Brian Leetch (9)
    Best Forward: Brendan Shanahan (2)
    Highest Drafted: Pierre Turgeon (1)
    Best Dman: Eric Desjardins (38) / Mathieu Schneider (44)
    Highest Drafted Dman: Glen Wesley (3)
    Best Forward: Mike Modano (1)
    Highest Drafted: Mike Modano (1)
    Best Dman: Rob Blake (70)
    Highest Drafted Dman: Curtis Leschyshyn (3)
    Likely HoFs: Jeremy Roenick (8), Rod Brind’Amour (9), Teemu Selanne (10)
    Mark Reechi (67), Alex Mogilny (89)
    Best Forward: Mats Sundin (1)
    Highest Drafted: Mats Sundin (1)
    Best Dman: Nic Lidstrom (53) / Adam Foote (22)
    Highest Drafted Dman: Adam Bennett (6)
    HoF: Sergei Fedorov (74) (I think Fedorov is the best forward but Russian transfer agreement wasn’t in place)

  • Clyde Frog

    The oilers better give their head a shake because other than Yak this is an extremely weak draft.

    Last year the draft had three forwards with over a 100 pts and one with 96pts in the top 10.this year none!!.Yak didn’t even make it to a 100 because of injury.

    Last year on defence we had Larsson who was touted as the next coming and Hamilton who put up better boxes than this years crop.

    This year we have Murray who is the consensus number one defender who if he was two weeks older would have been in the 2011 draft and probably taken around the same time as our Klefbom who is only two months older.The other top defender Reilly has missed most of the season because of injury.

    If the oilers trade down they will be drafting players who last year would have been mid first rounders

  • Clyde Frog

    I expected to be picking #2, that would have made it so much easier to use in a trade, given all the questions surrounding Grigorenko. Yakupov has been the best Jr player the past two seasons. You cannot pass that kind of talent up. This year was not indicative of his potential, due to his injury situation. This guy should simply not be traded.

    I agree that now is the time to move Gagner, I like the idea of trading for Dubinsky. I guess time will tell, but my hope is that faster players are added with Yakupov, so the Oilers can ice the fastest team in the league.

  • DieHard

    Quoting Jonathan Willis:

    “There was some suggestion the team could trade down on RNH, virtually none at all on Hall. This is the first time that Tambellini’s been this focused on the possibility publicly.”

    As Lowetide would say, the problem is that you develop a past.

    With Edmonton finishing with #1 in the draft three times in a row, we have some recent history to compare Tambellini’s quotes with. It’s only natural and definitely worth discussing.

    I hope he makes the pick.

    Tambellini has also been awfully quick to state that it’s not just about talent but character as well. Yakupov strikes me as more overtly cocky than Hall/RNH and a bit less charming about it upon first impression. That said, he also conveys a very honest drive in his interviews that makes me think the Oilers would be making an awful mistake to skip on Yakupov based on a dinner date with v4.

    • Clyde Frog

      You need some players with that cockyness. I could see him being that kind of player that does some of those little dirty things to win and thats something that is needed on this team.

      • Truth

        I won’t argue with that. Edmonton needs good hockey players and Yakupov will probably be a great one. I have no problem with cockiness but I do constantly fear that EDM will somehow mess this up – I’ve begun to worry that Yakupov will scare off Tambellini by not fitting into the “good Canadian boy” model that Hall/Ebs/RNH exude so well.

  • neojanus

    I certainly see how Willis has interpreted this press conference and he’s not alone at all.

    Tambo did in no small way suggest that his door is wide open to sucker…uh… work with another team to possibly trade down.

    I think Yakupov will be an Oiler come this fall.

    You can’t have enough high level fire power and Hall’s loss this year proved that the Oilers need more than one dynamic winger to sustain offence.

    Saying that, if the Oilers get a maniacally amazing Number 1 D-Man from a team desperate for Yakupov, I’m not saying no.

    An honest to nature 25 minute a game shut down man could almost get this team into the playoffs on his own.

    Still, I think Button hit it on the mark, finding proficient d-men is easy once you have a team ready to really compete.

    Having Yakupov on the team gives us options down the road if we run into an excess of talent.

    Keep Yakupov.

  • neojanus

    I agree with Rex Libris that is the best way to go! It will speed our development. If Pittsburgh suddenly decided to trade one of their stars can you imagine what interest it would garner? Nash all over again

  • Truth

    It is only smart for Tambo to say that the pick is in play. He will probably see an offer from most GM’s, only increasing the chance that one is willing to extremely overpay.

    I wouldn’t be trading the pick unless it is a huge overpayment. All scouts comments I’ve read or heard say that Yakupov is in a class of his own in the draft. Also, it is said that there is no Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, or such. That is something to interpret; if Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin are “A1” players, Hall, RNH, Tavares, Kane would be classified a level below, for arguements sake say “A2” players. Does that mean Yakupov is a “A2” player? Then the rest in the draft below being a step behind, as all the scouts have been saying, would be “B” players. Proper asset management would include ensuring a large return in trading the rights to draft the only “A2” level player for the rights to draft a “B” level player. To simply swap picks to drop a few spots if the opposing team throws in a couple draft picks or a marginal NHL player would be a huge mistake.

    Stauffer, on the radio today, mentioned a fantasy scenario in which Anaheim would give their 6th overall pick, Emerson Etem, and Justin Schultz’s rights in exchange for 1st overall. He also stated this would possibly not be enough. I think he is correct saying that the return would not be enough. Justin Schultz is just for show as there would be no reason in trading for his rights if he isn’t going to sign here. If he is going to sign here then why trade for him in the first place, he is already in complete control of his destination.

    I’d have a look at Paajarvi and 1st overall for Etem, Fowler, and 6th overall. Something in that ballpark.

  • Clyde Frog

    Columbus and Toronto were the two most recent high draft pick trades and they were fleeced in both cases…

    Damn Columbus got Jeff Carter!(A high pedigree kid, signed for 11 years who has performed well; could you ask for more?) for an 8th and Jakub Voracek; not even a full season later they cut their losses and unloaded him for Jack Johnson, a project if there ever was one, albiet with a high ceiling.

    And well Toronto, yah… Anyone bet they want a mulligan?

    You lose all year and get one real chance to improve your club by picking one of the BEST 18 year olds in the world. To give that chance to someone else is ludicrous.

    If you can’t improve your team by taking the best 18 year old in the world, you have a serious problem.

  • 24% body fat

    you dont trade this pick period!

    you have the two finishing right wingers, Eberle and Yakupov, the two cerebral playmakers RNH and Gagner, and the two speedy power left wingers, Paajarvi and Hall.

    With this type of ability MPS and Gagner will make it to the next level. Who ever played with Eberle produced. Who ever played with Hemsky didnt. Im not blaming Hemsky but he is a wierd player. He needs a finisher. You can say Hall is a finisher but he is more of a do it myself type. With a Yakupov and Eberle both playmaking centers will have their guy.

    Trade Hemsky, Omark and Peckham for picks. Picks and some others to try to land a D.

    With all that talent no way we cant find a decent free agent D.

  • 24% body fat

    I am of the total belief that taking Yakupov is by far the best direction for the Oilers. There are no such great other kids with elite potential displayed as yet so taking this kid makes the most sense so far.

    If he does not fit into the Oilers future cup venturing plans immediately then he is still totally valuable for trade after the season starts next year.

    There is definite room for this talented kid as Hemsky is only contracted for two years and is without a no-trade deal. Hemksy being traded in a package deal with other prospects and/or picks makes dynamic sense now that he is confirmed fully healthy once more.

    This kid yakupov seems very hungry while Hemsky does not show me that same fire anymore, espcially with his position being slowly less and less valuable.

    We also have Gagner, Omark,Peckham, Potter, and some others that are very tradeable for good deals with the defence position next season, including getting some decent draft pick choices between the second to sixth rounds with these guys included.

    I am kind of concerned that too many current Oiler veterans and non-performers stay next season and our already drafted kids like Paajarvi and Hartikainen suffer because of it. I am also concerned that Tambellini will trade the #1 pick for kids and picks which do not equal the talent and potential value of Yakupov. If there is such a deal then the kid or kids coming back have to be proven to be with elite potential as this kid cause two good kids unproven still does not equal elite.

  • canucknnv

    I say unload the pick if the ransom is enough. You have to protect yourself against the Radulov factor. You can’t tell me that there isn’t a bunch of shady owners in the KHL offering the moon to Yakupuv’s agent off the record. I’ve only seen highlights of this kid play and i’ll admit I like him but he doesn’t do us any good in another league. Radulov bailed and got paid, he came back and suffered no repercussions. he’ll get paid again. I dream of a Weber trade but more than likely we’ll deal the #1 pick, gagner and klefbom for shenn and lupul they way things work around this outfit.

    • Clyde Frog

      What Radulov Factor? Ovechkin plays here, Malkin does as well.. No-one has whisked them away, the kid plays here already!

      Why do people keep bringing this up like its a given?

      Radulov is NOT Yakupov nor is he Grigorenko, you understand ANY young kid could run off to the KHL for big $$… The problem is no-one wants to do it for long.

      1 kid does not make an epidemic, nor does it prove a path for a entire country of kids…

      • Wanyes bastard child

        Where was Radulov drafted? I ask because I don’t know eh and if I don’t know then he for sure wasn’t a number 1 draft pick.

        For all those people citing “the Russian factor” and saying that Yak might go for the money I guess they forgot that he will be making close to 4 million on his ELC. Thats decent coin and close to what I think Radulov got in Russia.

        • Clyde Frog

          Its not even close to the same thing, it happened once with one player who was unhappy with the way the Predators were bringing him along.

          There has been no mass exodus to the KHL, more of the exact opposite. Omark was making bank there but came here to try and make it.. Should we be worried about Swedes too?

          Also Malkin and Ovechkin were at risk to the KHL… Your own article talks about Malkin basically defecting to the US to avoid his Russian contract obligations.

          If you do due diligince there is little to worry about, but fans hoisting it up as a super threat to our #1 is more than a little silly.

          For jouranlistic sensationalism its a catchy story, but the kid already passed up money by playing in the OHL… Why? So he makes more running back to the KHL? Does that make any sense to you?

  • CaptainLander

    Take the number 1 pick and run with it….this year. To early to talk about trading next years #1? What would another team be willing to gamble for the potential that the Oil find themselves with yet another lottery pick. Does Gags, 2013 (one more hat in the ring for Mckinnon) and a for Curtis Hamilton get you a Jordan Staal type or top D-man?

  • Oilers89

    Hey gang I dont think we can go wrong taking the YAK.This talk abought blowing our socks off with a trade got me sniffing around at what team would have what the OIL would even consider trading away that first overall.I really like Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian but Im not so sure the jets would make a good trading partner.I got looking at the Capitals and I feel that maybe a team That may have every thing we need to get over the hump.We need a Dman and they have Carlson or Alzner,we need grit and size they have Brooks Laich a big hard working Saskatchewan boy,we need a goalie they have Holtby unproven but lots of potential we also need a centerman they have backstrom wich might be untouchable but maybe we have a prospect and Omark to make it work.Now your thinking why the hell would Washington overpay like that and your probably right,they do however really like russians,they are very tight against the cap but most importantly they have that Kuznetsov kid that really lit it up with Yak at the world juniors.I also believe George Mcphee may be on the hot seat and desperate to fix things up.I will repeat one more time I think the Yak will look great in Oil silks but if we could fix our holes with one move I think they have the tools to improve OUR team.

    • Oilers89

      Good points on Washington, but I am actually not overly interested in trading the pick for almost any of those things. Kuznetsov would be interesting though because I believe that he will be a very good player. They do seem like a team that would overpay for Yak.

  • French Toast Mafia

    Thats the deal. Whatever Tambo is thinking(?) he better just take the same time he told renny and then let the old brain decide that you don’t trade War Admiral for a bunch of glue factory nags. We have three absolute studs in the fold currently. Why not another one? The Brownleeism of “Runt in,Runt out” just dosen’t play. Jim Matheson has stated his preference for size in the top six.

    I have written that Oilers need to be true to thier own Philosophy of Speed and Skill over Size and Stength.

    Yakupov is rated number 1 not based on one game or 5 games. His rating is based on his body of work. The scouts are projecting him to be the first pick not based on his size, but on his performance.

    The old Mark Twain qoute comes to ming. Its not the size of the dog in the fight,its the size of the fight in the dog.

    Take Yakupov.Its the right pick for the Oilers.

  • canucknnv

    I don’t see the problem in taking Yakupov even with our offensive talent. By taking Yakupov you ensure that the Oilers have two elite scoring lines for the next 15 years (If they stay that long) two scoring lines is a great thing and really with talent like RNH and Ebs, Hall and Yakupov you can bring in veteran forwards around 30 to come play with these guys and get some size in the top 6 that way. Lets be honest you could set an oversized pylon on the ice with RNH and the pylon probably gets 15 goals a year.

    Yakupov helps the Oilers next year. Hemsky is coming off a down year and is probably done in Edmonton after 2 years regardless of this pick.

    Plus if Tambo doesn’t take Yakupov and Hemsky goes down with an injury and Hall has complications we can say hello to the lottery again because we are left with RNH and Ebs to score every goal.

  • Cru Jones

    What about Galchenyuk? I haven’t heard/read a ton about the kid, other than he had a monster season as a 16-year old, and that he missed a season with an injury. He’s bigger, and fills a need that Yakupov doesn’t. Just a thought.

  • Clyde Frog

    Galchenyuk – 16 year old – 31 goals, 52 assists = 83 pts in 68 games

    Yakupov – 16 year old – 49 goals, 52 assists = 101 pts in 65 games

    I think I would rather Yakupov! 😉

  • Clyde Frog

    You’re forgetting one thing willis, Tambi lies.
    He talked about moving the pick the last two years too, and what came of that?

    Not a dang thing.

    To trade this pick you would have to be an idiot.
    It’s tantamount to trading Hall or Nuge.

  • Clyde Frog

    I think sending the 1st overall pick away is beyond dangerous. The drop-off in the draft is evident and taking lesser players(s) in any combination seems foolish. My guess is most of those wanting the Oil nnot to draft Yakupov are likely Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver fans who have no such picks on their rosters.

    Someone called in and suggested that the Oil trade down to 6th or 8th spot and then take Luke Schenn. He may mature one day but at present he is in the Leaf’s doghouse. Why in hell would we want Toronto’s cast-offs?

    Lastly, the GM has shown no such guts, creatity or vision to summon up the courage to pull off such a deal. In short Tamby is too afraid to make a mistake and suffer a fan revolt not to mention ownership’s reaction to Yakupov ripping the NHL a new one over the next 10 years.

  • bazmagoo

    Draft the Yak, then sign one big UFA defender and this Schultz kid.

    More than likely Philedelphia isn’t going to able to afford Carle moving forward. Good ol’ Alaska boy would look good in an Oilers uniform in my opinion. Maybe 15 million for 3 years? A little overpaid, but Whitney comes off the books next season potentially. Philly already has $18.333 million of their 2013 cap wrapped up in 4 defencemen, not including Pronger.

  • The Oilers are in such an amazing position as mentioned by Tambellini, (the only thing that really made sense in his presser)

    With all the speculation the Oilers could move the pick so they can obtain the much needed top pairing defenseman or the “power” forward etc. This could be accomplished without moving the pick at all, I’m sure Stu MacGregor will have similar conversations with Tambellini about just that.

    The Oilers have an abundance of talent to trade with. Plus other draft picks to use as bait or filler, not to mention free agency which could be a big one for the Oilers.

    As of June 1st Justin Schultz becomes a UFA. Rumor has it the Oilers are front runners; He is more NHL ready then any of the defensive draft picks this year, and may only cost a late round draft pick to negotiate for said player prior to his UFA status. Not to mention very established defenseman through July 1st free agency.

    What’s the possibility of getting Suter if the Oilers do sign Schultz?

    Having said that, the Oilers have numerous options to move any combination of players they choose to obtain a defenseman or another forward, even if it means an over payment on the Oilers part, they could potentially acquire another draft pick should they see fit.

    So, unless a team is willing to give you a Philly style trade (1991), then it really doesn’t make sense for the Oilers to move that pick.

  • The Moff

    Question to the Nation…

    1st OV for 5th and Jake Gardiner.

    Swap 5th for Schneider from Van

    Get a Dman and a goaltender, killing 2 birds…is this crazy on all levels? Does someone laugh at either side…this could be a basis for a trade…am I crazy?