Nail Yakupov was in town Monday. Mikhail Grigorenko arrived last night. Ryan Murray will be here Friday. There’s been no sign of Alex Galchenyuk in the City of Champions so far and there are no plans by the Edmonton Oilers to show him around Rexall Place or have him meet owner Daryl Katz.
Add to that the Oilers have already had GM Steve Tambellini meet with Swede Filip Forsberg in Europe and that they’ve talked, and might again, with Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings, and a reasonable person might conclude Galchenyuk isn’t in the mix of the four or five players the Oilers are considering with the first overall pick in Pittsburgh.
As Jim Matheson wrote Monday in the Edmonton Journal: "The only question I have is this: what about Yakupov’s Sarnia Sting linemate Alex Galchenyuk, another big Russian centre who ripped up his knee this year, but has terrific ability. Is he not in MacGregor’s top 5? Is he not coming to town?"
A fair question to be sure, but not inviting Galchenyuk to Edmonton for a tour of the dressing room and an audience with Katz doesn’t mean the Oilers aren’t interested. It’s quite the opposite, actually. It turns out the Oilers have already done a fair amount of due diligence on Galchenyuk – they’ve had more than one sit-down discussion with him already.
IN THE MIX
Galchenyuk missed all but two games last season with a knee injury after finishing second among OHL rookies in 2010-11 with 83 points. It’s difficult to get a read on the development of a player after an abbreviated season like this one, but a lot of hockey people out there are of the mind he’d have pushed Yakupov atop player rankings, had he been healthy.
Even with a season that was essentially lost, talk is a lot of teams have the Wisconsin-born Galchenyuk rated in or near the top five picks in this draft class. The Oilers are one of those teams, even if he won’t get a tour of the town like Yakupov, Grigorenko and Murray.
"I don’t think there should be any conclusions to anything because people don’t know what’s already been done and who has been met with," chief scout Stu MacGregor said. "We’ve done extensive interviewing with Galchenyuk.
"A lot of times you’re doing this to get another look because you’re interested in something. When you’re already satisfied with what you think you have, it doesn’t have to be a visual thing all the time."
Brad Davis, Kent Hawley and Bob Brown of MacGregor’s scouting staff have interviewed Galchenyuk on separate occasions. Hawley is good friends with Galchenyuk’s dad, Alex. They spent two seasons playing together with the Madison Monsters in the minors in the 1990s.
THEY’VE GOT THE PICTURE
"We feel very comfortable with what we have with Alex Galchenyuk. We’re good with him," MacGregor said. "Bob Brown does a ton of interviews for us. He’s experienced. He’s been around. He knows the development game.
"Like, why bring Forsberg over here? Steve was there (Europe). He could go meet him. It was easy. It’s comfortable. It’s better for the player."
Bottom line is the Oilers don’t have to, and won’t, bring Galchenyuk in to Edmonton for a grip-and-grin. That doesn’t mean they aren’t eye-balling him as a candidate for that No. 1 pick. They are.
As an aside, Galchenyuk pretty much blew concerns about his knee right out of the water in fitness testing at the NHL combine in Toronto a week ago. He topped every prospect in the peak power output test on the bike. That story is here.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.