Nail Yakupov arrived in town last night and since leaving EIA he’s had a hectic schedule meeting with Oilers management, touring the dressing room, getting checked over by doctors and meeting Daryl Katz.
Yakupov is a legit 5’11". I stood beside him in this media scrum, and he’s one of the few players under six feet who is actually as tall as he’s listed in media guides. He is much thicker than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was last year, but both of them possessed the same willingness to be the first overall pick.
Both are serious and respectful about going first overall, but Yakupov did reveal he has a sense of humour.
Yakupov was asked what the strangest question the Oilers asked him was. "They asked if I had a girlfriend."
What was your response proded someone in the scrum, "I have two," he laughed. "One in Sarnia and one in Russia. I’m going to try for a third today," he continued while laughing. It is nice to see a guy have a little fun, and before you overreact, he was joking. At least about the #3 part.
Yakupov said he’s really enjoying his trip thus far and that the dressing room was amazing. "I’m going to go have a nap in there for a few hours," he chuckled.
He said that as of today Edmonton is the only team he’s scheduled to visit with prior to the draft. I’d be surprised if only the Oilers wanted to tour him around, but he Columbus doesn’t bring him in then it would seem clear they have no intentions of taking him. In 2010 the Bruins had Hall and Seguin come to town, just like the Oilers did. If he doesn’t go to Columbus, then all the rumblings about them wanting to take a D-man would seem accurate.
We’ll have to wait and see.
Rick Valette, Ryan Murray’s agent told me that Murray is scheduled to be in town Thursday evening and then he’ll spend Friday meeting and touring with the Oilers. Murray was in Montreal today visiting with the Canadiens.
- The LA Kings are only the fourth team in NHL history to lead 2-0 in all four series in one playoff season. The other three: 1981 Islanders, 1988 Oilers and 2008 Red Wings all won the Cup.
- Don’t be surprised if we see OT again tonight. In seven Stanley Cup final games the Kings have been to OT in five of them. They lost games two, three and four to the Habs in 1993, and all of them were in OT.
- Another strange stat courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau. This was only the 3rd time in 60 years that there were zero PP goals in the first two games of the final.
- Another coach off the list. Dallas Eakins signed a three-year extension to stay with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. I was told he has an out clause that kicks in next year that would allow him to move to the NHL. if he was offered a job.
- I’ve always felt it was premature to assume the Penguins won’t be able to sign Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby next summer. Of course they are keeping Crosby, but Staal currently has a cap hit of $4 million. Is he worth more than $5.5 at the most? Doubtful, so I don’t see why the Pens won’t be able to afford a $1.5 million raise for Staal. The only reason they trade him is he wants to leave so he can have a bigger role.
- The Pens showed they are serious about winning by trading for Tomas Vokoun’s rights and then signing him to a two-year, $4 million contract. Given that the trade and contract signing were announced today, it is clear the Caps gave the Pens permission to talk to Vokoun prior to the trade.
- I wonder if Steve Tambellini has contacted his friend Bob Murray in Anaheim about doing the same with Justin Schultz? It will cost more than a 7th rounder, but I’m a strong sense Tambellini will be aggressive on Schultz. I’ve been told the Oilers are very interested in him, and have already had conversations with the Ducks, albeit very preliminary type of discussions.
- The Edmonton Eskimos are the first team in the CFL to have a camera on the helmet of a QB during training camp. This camera allows the coaches and the players to see exactly what the QB sees. It is great for allowing the coaches and QB to see if indeed a passing lane was open or not when he throws the ball. Matt Nichol told me it’s been great to watch, because it allows him to see exactly when he mis-read a defense or didn’t react quick enough to an open passing lane.
- What a great week to be a sports fan. We’ll likely see someone hoist the Cup, Euro 2012 starts, I’ll Have Another goes for the triple crown and we could watch the Heat/Celtics and Spurs/Thunder battle in separate game sevens. I love it.
DOWN TO FIVE
Stu MacGregor announced today during Oilers Now that the Oilers are down to five players who could go #1.
Yakupov, Grigorenko, Murray, Reinhart and Forsberg.
Interesting that they don’t have Galchenyuk in the top-five, but that just proves that many teams will be evaluating players differently. Some scouts and independent draft rankings have Galchenyuk rated higher than Grigorenko and Reilly higher than Reinhart.
I’ll be stunned if the Oilers don’t take Yakupov.