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?"

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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.


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.

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"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.


"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."

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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.

  • justDOit

    I think it was their coach who said that Yakupov and Galchenyuk are the hardest working junior player’s he’s seen, and that they were constantly pushing each other.

    I believe that Nail was also quoted as saying that Galchenyuk is the most talented player on Sarnia.

    • RPG

      Couldn’t agree more.

      “Nail along with Alex Galchenyuk are two of the hardest working players off the ice I have seen in my 12 years with the Sting. He is constantly working on his game be it on the ice or in the gym constantly wanting to get better. In the dressing room he is a true character. Easily one of the more popular players among his teammates. He has two distinct sides to him. When it comes to hockey he is all business but outside of the game he is one of the more engaging personalities I have come across in my time in junior hockey.” – Mark Glavin (Assistant GM of the Sarnia Sting)

  • RPG

    I’ve been a fan of Galchenyuk since he played midget hockey here in Chicago.

    Nail is BPA, so he’d be picked ahead of Galchenyuk.

    But he doesn’t project well as a center in the NHL, he’s more of a flashy LW, and we have a few of those already.

    Grigorenko is the top NHL-caliber center in this draft, and that’s why he gets a visit. If he drops and the Oilers can swing a deal for Carolina’s pick, I’d love to see him as our #2 center.

    • oldhippy

      There’s Taylor Hall and then…
      The Oilers only have one. They’re deeper on the RW with skilled players like Eberle, Hemsky, and then Omark in the AHL. The left side features two way role players with Smyth, Hartikainen, Jones, Petrell. Despite what everyone is saying about needing another centre the Oilers also need another true top 6 winger to round out the top lines. It just isn’t their most pressing need.

  • I love the idea of the Oilers picking up another high end center. I’d be pretty shocked it they do pick Galchenyuk though. I bet he becomes a standout.

    Robin, thanks for the link to the fitness results.

  • RPG

    Yakupov a lock for first . What we do after that pick is what’s intriguing , and that appears to be moving up and getting a second first round pick that is likely to be a defenceman . Possibly one or more two second round picks (via Penner if Kings win Stanley-pick 60 ) and a roster pick could procur another top 10 pick . Tambellini hinted at going for need after the first pick as i recall from recent interviews . Will we target Montreal ,or possibly a trade for Subban? I’d like to see us move up and get Truoba or Dumba .

    Keep in mind next years draft that could be far better than this years . Staying young , it is unlikely we will finish much better than 11th- 12th in West next season . That would mean beating out Columbus , Minnesota . Out East we might beat out Montreal so far . Say we luck out and finish 24th overall . That in my mind is still another terrible/futile season . Thats not progress in my eyes ,that’s continued futility ! Playoffs for our team is still just a dream – the nightmare continues into next season .

  • I think the oilers would be crazy to pick Grigorenko over Galchenyuk.

    They both have elite skills and are big centers. Grigorenko has constantly had his character and heart questioned. You build a team around heart and character. Even if Gal had slightly less skill, which I do not believe is the case, he is a guy that does not take nights off. That is a problem the oilers have with many of their vets right now. Why look at someone who brings more poor effort to the rink?

    Many scouts have said they thought Gal would be ahead or in a tight race with Yak had he played this year. His Knee is back healthy and is obviously strong if his peak power with it is higher than anyone else tested. Missing the yeay of development may very well slowed his development and because of it he may need another year before moving to the NHL. long term he would look awful good on our second line.

    I would love to see the Oil trade down inside the top 5 getting another asset and taking him. I think he will have more impact anywhere he goes than Yak as he is bigger, stronger, plays centre, and has a similar skill level.

    This would make Gagner expendable and he could bring back more good assets. People have been talking about trading Gagner for a long time. I agree that if he is playing with small soft wingers we should have a bigger centreman, but unless that bigger centreman is coming back the other way we need Gagner. I don’t think anyone wants to see Horcoff promoted back to a scoring role on our second line, but he is the next best centre we have after Gagner.

  • RPG

    Nice to hear about a player who I thought had fallen out of favor for some reason, with the Oilers.

    I’m wondering if there is a deal in the works to get both players? Reading that both of these players have natural chemistry on and off the ice suggests a pairing that needs to play together.

    I wonder if Tamby has even thought of the possibility of acquiring both players?

  • “I wonder if Tamby has even thought of the possibility of acquiring both players?”

    The thought may have crossed his mind, like so many others. Thinking and acting are two different things with regard to Tambellini. A 30th, 30th and 29th finish would indicate he acts very s l o w l y.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It’s great to see the Oilers are really interested in Galchenyuk. It’s not as much of a reach taking Alex in the No.1 spot as it would be taking Murray in that same spot. If Edmonton is fortunate enough to land both, Nail could remain here if there’s hockey next season and Alex may benifit from one more year in Sarnia.

    This is another great opportunity to sell/move out some of the often underperforming veterans. Probably the best of the 3 opportunities compared to the 2010 and the 2011 entry draft.

    Sell the farm and get both.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Oilers are not going to pick a defensman with the number 1 overall pick. Tambellini has said he has a roster need for a defensman, but not an organizational one. That means drafting another defensive prospect that doesn’t help us out right away is not going to happen. Murray isn’t even a Hedburg caliber player and Hedburg didn’t even step into the NHL on the top 2 pairing, nor do I think he’s even there now.

    Moreover, Kevin Lowe has said it will be pretty difficult for the Oilers to not take the BPA. The only way is if they get an offer they can’t refuse, which to me sounds like something from Brian Burke. Names like Luke Schenn are being thrown around, but to be honest, his numbers are not that good and I don’t see how he makes us better than what Gregorenko, Galcheniuk, or Yakapov would bring to the city.

  • Well….in all seriousness. What exactly would it take to land Galchenyuk? I just can’t see him getting past # 3 or #5

    I see it as an overpayment to get that pick; what would the Oilers need to give up to get into the top 5? I personally think it would be like having Hall and Seguin. Yakupov & Galchenyuk would give us an amazing 2nd scoring line!

    It’s a deal that has to be made! If Tambellini want’s to continue to be a GM he’s going to have to make some kind of a move to crawl out of this hole.

  • I know I’m not an NHL GM nor am I as uknowledgeable on prospects as the scouts and many nerds around here BUT I would personally lean towards drafting Galy. I really like what I hear about him:

    – Centre
    – Big
    – Highly skilled
    – great personality (this one is huge for me)
    – N.A. born
    – completely recovered from injury
    – explosive speed
    – complete player
    – great vision and hands
    – Pro hockey pedigree
    – likely would have challenged for #1 rank if not injured

    Sure it would be a risk and it’s not my job on the line but he just sounds like a better fit and, frankly, a better prospect than Yak.

  • Yakupov and Galenychuk to the same team is very unlikely. Getting a top 5 pick requires significant assets. We can’t get that without giving up one of Hall/Eberle/Nuge.

    So bascially forget it. Besides, I think you would have to get #2 from CBJ to make it happen. I suspect they are going to pick Galenychuk after we take Yakupov.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    “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?'”

    Matheson, like most of the media coverage I have heard, ignores the fact that Galchenyuk was born in Milwaukee, played his junior hockey in the US, and never – as far as I can tell – played for Russia internationally. It’s kind of like referring to Brett Hull as a Canadian winger… Not all that important, but it bugs me for some reason.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Reverse psychology! Take Yakupov 1st overall, watch Galchenyuk slide, then make a deal with the Leafs sending a couple of roster players and taking back Komisarek’s salary to free the Leafs from salary cap hell and the 5th overall pick. Then pick up Galchenyuk.

  • wiseguy

    This reminds me of Kane/Gagner and Crosby/Pouliot. Does the center look better than he is because of who he was playing with? We already know that Yak can still shine without Galchenyuk because that’s what he did this year. We therefore know that Yak can perform with or without Galchenyuk. We know that Galchenyuk looks good with Yak but how is he going to play without him?

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      Right. Because you’d trade the #2 overall for an aging, oft-injured skill player, an undersized skill center who is a perennial 40 pt producer who can’t win draws, and a prospect.

      Why not trade the #1 overall to SJ for havlat, pavelski and a prospect?

      Unless the prospect is RNH, that trade ain’t happening.

      Edit: I actually like Gagner, so please don’t spend time defending him to me. Just trying to prove a point.

  • Unless you can get the Hurricanes interested in Hemsky and possible Paajarvi for the 8th, then anything is possible from there.

    Heck maybe Grigorenko is there at 8 much like Couturier was last year.

    From the 8th spot you can make a push or option to stay and pick a defensemen.

    Fact: Tambellini needs to make something happen sooner then later, his days of assessing then re-assessing are long gone. He has one last shot to get onto the playoffs or damn close to the playoffs or he’s done.

    Does a new coach and one new player get you in, I’m guessing he’s going to have to make a serious move.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Robin – What do you mean they still may have him as a candidate for the #1 pick? Stu MacGregor said in an interview just a couple days ago that Yakupov, Murray, Grigorenko, Forsberg, and Reinhart were the guys they were considering, leaving Galchenyuk out. Did he clarify this to you and say he missed him or something?

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Yes, he is a heck of a prospect, could even turn out to be the best long-term pro in the bunch, but just because he has recovered from his knee surgery doesn’t mean he is anywhere near as likely a prospect for greatness as Yakupov.
    This is an article for the websites devoted to the teams who pick AFTER the Oilers. It would still be a gamble to pick Gal second or third but it might be worth taking as only Yak has superstar ability.
    Why would the MB not include him in his list of possibles if they were considering him as their top pick? You don’t have to play games when you pick first. There is an outside chance they might be considering trading up if he gets through the top five but I doubt they would be willing to give up what they would have to. It is Yak or Murray going first. No one else is being seriously considered.

  • Robin – What do you mean they still may have him as a candidate for the #1 pick? Stu MacGregor said in an interview just a couple days ago that Yakupov, Murray, Grigorenko, Forsberg, and Reinhart were the guys they were considering, leaving Galchenyuk out. Did he clarify this to you and say he missed him or something?

    I mean exactly what I wrote in this item. You should take another listen to the interview you cite and keep what MacGregor said in context.

  • “It would still be a gamble to pick Gal second or third but it might be worth taking as only Yak has superstar ability.”

    You are either more astute than many of the scouting staffs in the NHL or you have a crystall ball. Or, maybe, neither.

    One other thing “Pouzar99”: if you ever take a gratuitous cheap shot at me again even faintly resembling the one I’ve edited out of your comment, you are finished posting here.

  • striker777

    I’ve read all the comments on Burke trying to acquire both, Yakupov and Galy. Just wanted to point out that it would be much easier for the Oilers to acquire both of these players than the Leafs.

  • wiseguy

    After listening to the interview again, I think I’ll disagree with you on this one. They ask him how many he’s down to for the top pick, he says 4 or 5. They list the obvious ones in the guys they brought to town in Yak, Murray, and Grigorenko. And then MacGregor voluntarily mentions Forsberg and Reinhart when prompted to fill out the 4 or 5. He could have mentioned Galchenyuk with the last two guys but he didn’t.

  • Hey, those scouts you mentioned interviewed Yakupov too…after all, they play for the same team, watch one guy, you’re watching the other. They interviewed both guys at the combine. Then they bring one guy to Edmonton, and leave the other home. Loud and clear to me. Ya, they’re ‘satisified with him’, ‘they’re good with him’, as the guy who won’t be their guy come June 22. Just reading between the lines.

  • Hey Robin….I signed up today to ask about Galchenyuk. I really like this guy over Nail as he is a big centermen that I think could be an upgrade to Gagner in a year or so. I also am concerned with Yakupov’s concussion history as well as where he would play? If he can’t move over to the opposite wing, where does he fit?

    P.S. Hows the Biz running?