The best way to procure outstanding defensive talent (or any talent) is via the draft. However, being patient with young defensemen can be the hardest part–suffering through the growing pains is almost impossible and has caused many NHL teams to send away future stars of the game.

Even very good organizations lose good defensemen because their performances vary from season to season (usually because of injury) and it takes longer for them to mature. Serge Savard was once a successful NHL General Manager in Montreal and will have a major impact on the direction of the Habs beginning this summer.

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It should be a season of change in Montreal. An old quote from Savard perhaps give us some guidance about the summer:

  • "When the Canadiens lost in 82-83, they had just about the same looking team as they have now (2010-11), with only two or three local guys. When they lose in the playoffs, they all go home and they don’t see anything here. In my 14 years as a player with the Canadiens we won 8 Stanley Cups and the years we didn’t win we paid a heavy price in the summer. People asked ‘what happened, how come you didn’t win?’ I wanted my players to live the same thing I lived. So I did not pass on the local talent. So, Simon Gagne would never have played In Philadelphia in my day, not because I’m smarter but because I wouldn’t have allowed him to go (ahead of me) in the draft. Same with (David) Perron in St. Louis. Montreal drafted twice in the first round in 2007 (picking up 2 Amercians) before he was picked from St. Louis. THAT guy would never have passed two picks with me….There is enough local product, and I had a big enough edge because everyone downgraded the Quebec junior league–what an edge. How come I got Patrick Roy in the 3rd round? I got Stephane Richer and Claude Lemieux in the second round. Why would those guys go in the 2nd round? That was an edge for us." (quote courtesy Behind the Moves by John Farris)


When Savard played the game, Montreal had 5 outstanding defensemen with the big club and about that many bubbling under. The Montreal procurement system was something Henry Ford would have been proud of, as the production line was long and filled with tremendous talent. Those Montreal clubs were legendary, and their AHL farm teams were just shy of that; in fact, it was often said that the Nova Scotia Voyageurs (AHL) would have given most NHL teams a run for their money and might have won out in the expansion division.

IF Edmonton is looking at trading the first overall pick, the return would have to be bountiful and the Oilers would need to be certain of getting their man. We’ve gone through this exercise assuming that player is Ryan Murray, but it could be Griffin Reinhart or Morgan Rielly.

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The case for trading the pick revolves around another team in the lottery wanting Nail Yakupov more than the Oilers. We don’t know that as fact, we’re just blue skying. We also don’t know if Montreal has interest in him, and using the thrust of the Serge Savard quote above perhaps a QMJHL prospect is more likely to be taken by the Habs when they step to the podium. The only Q player near the top of the draft is C Mikhail Grigorenko, who may indeed be a player of interest for the undersized Canadiens.


The math works a little better for the Oilers if they are trading down with Montreal at three instead of Toronto at 5. Although the  possibility still exists that both Nail Yakupov and Ryan Murray will go 1-2, Edmonton would be able to control the draft to the extent they would know what they were giving up by moving down to #3. Perhaps Montreal or Edmonton could bribe the Jackets to stay away from a specific player with a pick or an asset (it’s been done before).

Does the hesitation the team has (real or imagined) over Yakupov warrant passing on him or is he still worth the top selection? Is Murray worth taking #1?

One of the areas Edmonton must spend time looking at is Yakupov’s knee inury this past season. speeds mentioned the other day that Yakupov was looking very strong compared to previous #1’s before a knee injury poked a hole in his season. The splits–before and after injury–tell a story:

  • speedsBefore injury at the WJHC: 26GP 21G 32A for 53 pts, +21; After injury: 16GP 10G 6A for 16 pts, -6. Small sample sizes, and all that, but I would be investigating that knee pretty closely if I were the Oilers. If he had been playing through a bothersome knee for the rest of the year, and is expected return to 100%/has returned to 100% by the combine, it’s a factor to consider.

Yakupov followed up his regular season with an indifferent playoff. How much would Montreal need to give up outside the draft swap (#1 for #3) in order to make the deal work?

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Montreal is a mess in many ways. They have $35M tied up next season in Scott Gomez, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, Erik Cole, Rene Bourque, Andrei Markov and Tomas Kaberle.

In other ways, Montreal has terrific potential. Carey Price, PK Subban, Max Pacioretty and others given them a very nice foundation for the future. Adding Nail Yakupov (or Mikhail Grigorenko) will give the Habs another bullet for the future.

I’m not certain how much value Edmonton could extract from Savard and the Habs. The pricetag would be dear, and Montreal has a variety of needs that could be addressed. Their own possible bias (French kids from the Q) does not make them more likely to trade up and unless they have a passion for Nail Yakupov it seems unlikely a deal can be made.

Up next: the Jackets.

  • DieHard

    You know, I think this is the 3rd year in a row now that Oilers fans are expecting to nab 2 of the top 5 picks and then all will be set. The last 2 drafts and nothing happened of significance. This year looks and feels like it could be different and something could happen but we aren’t gonna get 2 of the top 5. Like what has been stated, take BPA unless blown away.

  • I’d like to think the Islanders & Oilers can make a deal. NYI has a kook of an owner and an even worse GM.

    The Islanders have #4, Strome, Hamonic, and de Haan…

    Tavares doesn’t have an elite goal scoring winger like Yakupov, and I’m pretty sure he grew up playing with Sam Gagner. If the Oilers trade the 1st overall pick to NYI, they can take comfort knowing that nothing ever works out on the Island.

    • TwoSkidoos

      Good point. We could likely pry something out of them, although we got three busts last time we traded with NYI.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing De Haan here, could be a player there. Gagner might do well there, their conference doesn’t hit as much as the western IMO. Wouldn’t mind the #4 pick as well somehow.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan


    i highly doubt tambellini would have time to assess the assessments of the scouts player assessments in time to make the proper assessments in regards to a trade with the blue jackets for the 2nd overall pick.

    to many assessments, so little time (but good lord would i be a happy little fella if they ended up picking 1,2 this year)

  • The next person here that publicly entertains ideas involving trading away draft picks will have to face the Rancor. You’ve been warned.

    P.S. It’s spelled genius, and ‘in our sights’, not ‘sites’. (What a prude) …Bring on the Rancor!

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Why is it that everyone whose suggesting or throwing around the idea of trading the pick for defencemen makes it sound like trading this pick is the only possible way to upgrade our D now?
    Weber and Suter were both not top picks-proof that great D can be had later, thats why I wouldnt even trade for a signed suter straight up..
    In two years we’re not going to know what to do with all our defencemen coming up the Pipeline..
    Sign J Schultz..find another top four, trade away a 5th-6th d for picks..draft Yakupov..and on with next topic.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan


    i am to lazy to check, how many points did Henrik and Daniel put up as 18 year olds in the NHL?

    also, how does a .7PPG pace compare to the Sedins production in their first 4 seasons in the NHL?

  • TwoSkidoos

    Wow, this one really got off the rails…

    Back to trade or not to trade.

    Yakupov will be wearing orange and blue come draft day, through the preseason and into the regular season.

    Apparently if you go to Justin Schultz’ website his favourite place to visit it Edmonton – telling us something? I think so.

    So drop the Murray or any other defenseman talk because it isn’t going to happen, Justin Schultz will be an Oiler and playing regularly next year on our blue.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Im torn between Yakupov and Murray, the Oilers need both imo. Reading the article in the Edmonton Sun this morning about Murray and how composed he is on the ice is something the team needs on the back-end. Yakupov, the only thing that scares me is his knee, but then again Halls shoulder didnt stop him from putting up the points he did.

    I wonder if ST has the brass jewels to get the #2 pick from CBJ to get both Murray and Yakupov ala Brian Burke with the Sedin sisters

    To CBJ- Gagner,Klefbom,2012 2nd, 2013 1st
    To Edm- 2012 1st

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Lol I knew Id get lambasted for that thought….sometimes a overpayment can go a long way *shrugs shoulders*

    Just curious though what did Burke give up to get both sisters?

  • I am the Liquor

    Yakupov’s career is over at 17. Speeds has the goods. Didnt even have to watch the player either. Thank god for stats. If we didnt have them, we may actually have to watch the games, and who in the world would want to do that?


    • DSF

      Well at least you earned that huge bonus cheque for being an ass about your disdain for people that incorporate facts into their reasoning.

      You can read speeds entry (I did, you might give it a try) as a caution to learn more about the impact of the injury because making a decision on Yakupov. As in: hey, if the numbers before the injury were the real deal and he can return to 100%, then this prospect may be better than you (or potential trading partners) think. I see that as a direct reading of speeds’ entry.

      But if you really want to turn it into a negative about Yakupov, the worst I get is: after investigation, the medical professionals deem that the injury was significant and long term and will affect Yakupov going forward, so the Oilers may want to jump on an overpay from another team. Hence Lowetide’s question about how much Montreal really needs to sweeten the pot enough for the deal to make sense. Maybe its less, but maybe its more too?

      But perhaps I am the Liquor has the goods! Didn’t even have to understand the article either. Thank god for opinions. If we didn’t find them conveniently located in our behinds, we may actually have to follow logic or consider facts, and who in the world would want to do that?

      • I am the Liquor

        All that gobbledy-gook and not one mention of watching the player play.


        Not even a little bit.

        The problem with painting by numbers is that you are unable to account for a whole myriad of other possibilities. ie quality of competition, goalie error, line mates, illness, system play, or any other number of little tidbits.

        Wasnt the notion that RNH was to be avoided as our pick last year due to his point totals being heavily weighted towards PPTOI? Wasnt the party line that he would get killed at evens?

        How’s that workin for ya?

        Talk about having one’s head stuffed up their bottom.

        Good grief.

        • DSF

          Well, Hopkins did only score 29 points at evens…so it would appear there was legitimate concern and likely will be going forward.

          Hell, Sam Wellwood scored 35 points at evens.

          • I am the Liquor

            He was -2 as an 18yr old on the second worst team in the league.

            Hardly getting shredded at evens.

            Having a top three pp will be a concern going forward.

            For the opposition.

          • DSF

            PP’s come and go.

            If you count on it while being 22nd in the league 5V5 you’re going to lose…a lot.

            The Leafs, Avalanche and Islanders also had top ten power plays and all missed the playoffs.

            And, if the “new” officiating we’ve been seeing in the past several months becomes standard, PP’s will be far less frequent and far less important.

            All you need to do is look at Vancouver to see what happens when the PP goes south.

          • DSF

            Sure he did.

            He was 149th in the league in even strength points.

            To be successful at even strength you have to be able to score more than the opposition especially when being sheltered and starting in the offensive zone 65 percent of the time.

            No doubt he’ll get better as he matures but he has a long way to go.

          • I am the Liquor

            He is the #1 offensive center and the PP QB on the first unit. I would hope he starts more often than not in the offensive zone.

            What a concept.

            Only Eberle and Hall had a higher ES PPG.

            Ryan Kesler had a .36 ES PPG.

            He has a long way to go to reach Hopkin’s .47 ES PPG.

          • DSF

            He was 85th in the league among forwards who played 60+games in P/60 5V5 at 1.98.

            Kyle Wellwood managed to be 58th at 2.15.

            If you want to compare “#1 offensive centre and PP QB’s”, Henrik Sedin, who also gets a large ratio of Ozone starts, managed a P/60 5V5 of 2.58 for 13th in the league.

            Hopkins had unreal numbers on the PP but was obviously not much to worry about at evens.

          • I am the Liquor

            You mean a rookie on the second worst team in the league wasnt on par with a former Hart winner who has 10+ years in the league and plays on the very best regular season team in the league?

            You dont say.

            He was 29th among centers for P/60 5v5 60+ games.

            Jordan Eberle was 2nd.

            Much higher than Henrietta even.

            Something tells me that Hopkins will be surpassing Henrietta sooner rather than later.

            History will be made.

          • DSF

            He wasn’t on par with 84 players in the league one of whom played 3rd line centre for the woeful Winnipeg Jets.

            Eberle had a great season…but that has nothing to do with how poorly Hopkins performed at evens despite getting heavily sheltered.

            Put him against tough competition and he’ll get murdered which is why he was only able to score 19 points and was -9 on the road where his sheltering was limited.

            “Henrietta” scored 40 points on the road and was +6.

            Huge difference.

          • DSF

            Two first line centres and PP QB’s that get a large number of O Zone starts. (your criteria)

            Just shows you how far Hopkins has to go before he can play big boy hockey.

            Lighting it up on the PP at home is nice and all but most of the game is played at evens and half of it is played on the road.

            With the league seemingly moving to calling few fewer obstruction penalties, it isn’t really a good time to be a PP specialist.

            Worth noting that in the last 10 games of the season….

            10GP 0G 7A 7P

            .7PPG projects to a 57 point season.

            Not bad, but hardly world beating.

          • billylikestodrinksoda

            Yeah but you are comparing an 18 year old to a player in his prime with sedin. I’d like to see sedins ES numbers in his first year. I agree Hopkins has a way to go but you can’t compare him to players 12 years older than him. And taking a 10 game sample size at the end of the season when your left winger is ryan Jones is not an accurate assesment of a projected points total

          • DSF

            The 10 game sample size was an indication that PP opportunities are diminishing.

            Hopkins had 1 PP point in the last 10 games.

            If you live and die by the PP, you’re likely going to die if the NHL has decided to go back to the dead puck era.

            Based on which teams are still alive in the playoffs, it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

          • billylikestodrinksoda

            Absolutely they are diminishing. That’s been very clear. You still are comparing an 18 year old kid against 30 year old men. Yeah nuge isn’t sedin level but he’s 13 years younger. He’s tracking better then sedin. I just don’t understand your argument. Most logical people understand he’s not at the level as the datysuks, ssedins, and malkins of the world right now. But he’s tracking better then most did at his age.

          • DSF

            No argument from me.

            I think Hopkins will be a fine player.

            Just responding to this nonsense:

            “All that gobbledy-gook and not one mention of watching the player play.


            Not even a little bit.

            The problem with painting by numbers is that you are unable to account for a whole myriad of other possibilities. ie quality of competition, goalie error, line mates, illness, system play, or any other number of little tidbits.

            Wasnt the notion that RNH was to be avoided as our pick last year due to his point totals being heavily weighted towards PPTOI? Wasnt the party line that he would get killed at evens?”

            He DID get killed at evens.

            At this point, he is a PP specialist who needs extreme sheltering and zone starts to try and keep his head above water.

            That’s all.

          • DieHard

            Good grief you’re annoying. 🙂

            Why don’t you go find wellwood, get married, and live happily ever after. Preferably somewhere that doesn’t have access to the Internet.

        • stevezie

          Head up one’s bottom indeed. Speeds was arguing for Nail, not against him. He was saying that a healthy Nail is by far the best bet. It is only common sense to asses the likelihood of Nail regaining and keeping his health. I’m sure you agree with that. It’s not a race to see who can form the strongest opinion the fastest; read more carefully.

          • I am the Liquor

            He was drawing conclusions based on Yakupov’s stats.

            Nothing more, nothing less. He concluded that the drop off in numbers was due to the knee injury.

            That may or may not be the case.

            I would think the best way to determine if it was affecting him or not would be to watch him play live, both pre and post injury, to watch his skating. Does he still have the same explosive speed and acceleration? Agility?

            Determining if he has recovered fully would have much more to do with that than it would with his splits.

          • I am the Liquor

            What was your point again?

            Horcoff is a first line center?

            Horcoff’s league worst +/- was a function of his OnSv%?

            The goalie saw Shawn coming and let in some softies?

            Matt Cooke is tougher competition than Malkin?

            Ooops. Looks like its time to cook the books again.

  • Daniel5on

    @Lrg DBL DBL. I agree with your thinking. I think the way to go is allin if you think Ryan Murray is a 1-2 dman. Columbus as I have posted before holds the most cards going into this draft. They may have lost the first pick overall but they have a number of cards to play before,during and after the draft.When they trade Nash they certainly have another top 10 draft pick. They have the option on the LA’s 1st pick. They will cap space in spades to use once Nash is gone. How they move forward will determine the shape of the draft. with Nash out of the picture does a Gagner,Klefbom and a pick look better than say Filip Forsberg? They certainly will want to sell hope to thier fans in the form of a team that appears competitive. You’d think?

    Either way the way things are shaping up it looks to be a massive draft. Vancouver is going to be trading BoBBY Lou and perhaps that changes things either in Tbay or TO. The Pheonix Coyote situation looks to be moving closer to resolving/revolving. The draft certainly would get interesting if The Quebec Nordiques were the team drafting instead of the Pheonix Coyotes. Plus the Justin Shultz saga may or may not decide who the Oilers go with on draft day.

    Plus we don’t know who our GM and coach are? Or do we?

    • TwoSkidoos

      I don’t really agree that Columbus is holding as many cards as y ou think.

      By losing out in the lottery they’re put in a weaker position simply because they aren’t getting the elite player they thought they were going to get in Yakupov.

      Instead, they’re getting the 2nd best player and trading Nash becomes harder – other teams know this. Meaning, CBJ will likely get lower return than they could have had they received the 1st overall pick.

      I really think other teams are going to try and take advantage of Howson because he could have had a great return for Nash before the trade deadline, instead he chose to up the asking price for a player who has publicly stated he wants out.

      He holds some cards, but is certainly in no position of great strength.

  • a lg dubl dubl


    I agree this years draft could be the most interesting draft in many years.

    Im not disagreeing with you about CBJ but imo I think they are dealing from the side of weakness in the fact that they HAVE TO win asap when/if Nash gets traded CBJ needs players back to get that team into the playoffs next year otherwise i dont see that team in Columbus much longer, thats why Im hoping Howson is wanting to deal the #2 pick the future is now for CBJ(kinda like the Oilers lol).

    Im not sold on Shultz playing for the Oilers next season, even if he did wind up becoming an Oiler Id still like ST to go after Murray along with Yakupov, can you imagine the backend like this:




    Dare to dream, stay thirsty