From Russia, With Love?

Anatoli Semenov is one of the few Russians drafted by the Edmonton Oilers who also had an NHL career of note. The Oilers have avoided the Motherland like the Moscow Plague and Riot of 1771. Are they really going to change their ways and grab the Russian Nail?

Since 1979, Edmonton has draft 339 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

22 Russians (there might be one or two who slipped through the radar because I counted them as Slovak or they are listed as being from Belarus via hockeydb but are in fact Russian). That’s about 6.5 per cent, a very low total when we take into account the incredible amount of hockey talent Russia has produced since the 1980’s.

Edmonton has for the most part ignored Russia. They were among the first NHL teams to explore Finland and of course Sweden has been a hot spot for a long time, plus the Czech players make appearances often. Russia? Edmonton’s relationship with Russian hockey players is just about the opposite of that enjoyed by the Detroit Red Wings.

You’d have a terrible time putting together a starting lineup of Russians from the Edmonton draft list 79-12. I’d suggest the best Russian pick have been Anatoli Semenov, but after that it’s a dog’s breakfast.

Russia has not blessed the Oilers with talent, and in turn Edmonton has ignored the hell out of it. Which came first? Who cares?


There’s very little doubt the Edmonton Oilers will select Nail Yakupov first overall. He played in the OHL and has made it clear that his goal is to be an NHL player and he’s on record as hoping Edmonton takes him #1 overall.

The Oilers own past will make it will be a rare, rare moment. Perhaps it will be an opportunity to change the past and treat Russian hockey like the enormous opportunity that it clearly is and has been for decades.

  • Reg Dunlop

    If we are going to draft Yakupov maybe we also should draft Ivan Drago. He would solve our size/agression issues and ride shotgun for Nial. He could tell Kessler “I must break you” while he dumps a syringe of sauce into his 21 inch guns.

    Alternately, Tambo trades the pick, hopefully for a stud d-man, not for a grab bag of prospect/picks/5-6 dman. Trading down for a later pick and a prospect= dumb, I’d rather spin the vodka bottle with Yak.

    Repeating, why not try to flip the pick to Columbus for their 1st next year? MacKinnon is the real deal.

    • paul wodehouse

      nice start for the Barons …

      had a look at the official site as well and whadaya know?

      no ‘lil linus … he’s left the stable ?

      … hope the little crap’s happy


  • Reg Dunlop

    Tambi should call Peter Chiarelli and try to get Lucic, D.Hamilton + a pick for the russian.Its what this team needs moving foward.(The pick a 2nd)my two cents!!!

  • If Tambelini and crew dont pick the No.1 consensus in the Draft, they will be the laughing stock of the NHL. Trading Yakapov, for whom? No team is going to give you a fist line player ,and trading to draft a D man would be a poor move. AS far as a phone call to Yakapov, its possible Tambelini , while in Europe will connect with the player face to face.

  • paul wodehouse

    Tony Semenov was my fave russian player of all time.

    The Oilers should stay away from Nail. His value is high right now. Deal the pick. Trade down. Whatever, just don’t draft Yakov Smirnoff.

  • paul wodehouse

    Omark is not at OKC because the Oilers Effed it up. They could not return him without exposing him to waivers. They would have lost him for nothing.

    I still don`t understand why he was called up, it was a bonehead move.

  • paul wodehouse

    I’ve been reading alot here about moving players from the wing to centre. That doesn’t seem like a very easy thing to do. These guys have spent their life playing wing and have been successful. Seems crazy to try and make them change. Has there been alot of players in the past that have changed from wing to centre. Going from centre to wing would be alot easier. Someone smarter than me please educate me.

  • paul wodehouse

    Yakupov is “in the bag ” ! What Oilers do outside that acquisition is intriguing . Might they go for Nash , Iginla or even Thornton to name a few ? Perhaps a young defenceman of note to help the top 4 ? I think the Oiler nation should spend more time making dream deals, etc. knowing Yalupov will be our pick . We have so many outside the top four we could play with including the draft for the next year to acquire some much needed top talent at center and/ or defence . This is not the year to mess with or waste our first pick !

  • RexLibris


    Re: Rieder – I have been keeping an eye on him as well and here is what I have noticed. He is roughly the same size and weight as Baertschi, plays the opposite wing, and is on a relatively gifted Kitchener team. As far as I can tell he is playing with the undrafted and undersized (and feisty!) but intriguing Michael Catenacci. His points are almost at a par with Baertschi as well. So, on paper, it appears as though the Oilers have a 4th round surprise pick that is performing as well as the Flames prized 1st round pick and all-but-anointed saviur of the franchise. As Bob Stauffer would say “Hmmm, interesting”.

    I’m really, really looking forward to seeing this young man in OKC next season.

    On another note I had a look at the gamesheet from the Barons win and I noticed Pitlick started the scoring. Seems like a good sign in his development to me.

    Oh, and draft Yakupov. We can attract more free agents (read: Justin Schultz) with talent than we can with money. And if eventually the Oilers can’t afford him I’d rather trade a 24 year old budding star than an 18 year old prospect.