Stu MacGregor added a right winger to round out the only potential 1st-overall line combo in the NHL, when he recommended the Oilers take Nail Yakupov with the first pick. After all the buildup, the Oilers made the correct choice and now have four extremely skilled young forwards.
MacGregor talked about the decision to take Yakupov and what he’ll be looking to acquire on day two of the 2012 draft.
"You waver all year long as you go through this long process, but you finally get down to an end result where you make a decision…It is hard to pass up offensive talent," said MacGregor.
What do you like most about Yakupov?
SM: He’s extremely fast, creative, he can score goals and one of the things that really impressed was whenever I saw him get in all alone on a goaltender, he didn’t miss, he put it in. He has the potential to score 30 goals, maybe more, and you can`t win games without scoring goals.
Hall and Nugent-Hopkins made an immediate impact, should we expect the same from Yakupov?
SM: I’m not going to put that type of pressure on him. I think Nail wants to make the transition to the NHL, and I think every player that is first overall that is their goal. I would anticipate that Nail is going to challenge next year.
How do you see him meshing with Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle?
SM: He’ll mesh well, he’s an offensive guy. Offensive players like to play with other offensive players and this is another offensive player that we can add to – hopefully I can call it an arsenal. We feel we now have four real offensive players that are also very young.
What did you see in his personality off the ice that you liked?
"He’s a dynamic guy. He’s fun to be around, he’s always smiling, he’s excited and he has passion in hockey and in life.
The Oilers own the 32nd, 63rd, 91st, 93rd, 123rd and 153rd picks heading into day two. I asked MacGregor if he has certain traits or types of players he’ll be looking at on Saturday.
"I think we have positioned our list to hopefully address some things/issues we have within our hockey team. We’ll have a meeting as soon as we get back to our hotel, to prepare for day two. It’s like we have another first round pick, so we are pretty excited about it and we have to make it count.
I asked Steve Tambellini his thoughts on what holes the organization will be trying to fill tomorrow.
"On the defensive side we have a lot of young D coming into the system over the next couple of years who we know are going to play. I think where we do need to get better is to have that heaviness, and not just from a physicality standpoint, but the heaviness of being able to play with our top-six or top-nine. We need some of that in our organization. Most of the time, the players that are that strong and that skilled, you have to draft them to get them and we are looking for something like that."
Did you try to acquire another first round pick?
"We did try to move up into the 2nd half of the first round, but there was at least three other teams trying to do the same thing with the same player.
He also talked about Yakupov.
"When you look at the package that Nail Yakupov brings to our organization, we talked about bringing elite talent to our organization, and he’s hungry to perform and he’s hungry to score. He’s an emotional player, an explosive player, and so for us trying to figure out what that will look like with Hopkins, Hall, Eblerle, Paajarvi, Hemsky… Wow, it’s exciting."
He was also asked about comparing Yakupov to his previous first overall picks.
"They’re all different. One thing I do know is that he is a very confident kid, a very proud individual. He had no hesitation telling me that he was a number one pick, and he stood by it. I love the confidence and with that comes the courage to back it up. I don’t think he lacks any courage in his ability that’s for sure."
POSSIBLE OPTIONS AT #32
Even though the Oilers have lots of young D in the system, they might take another one at 32 considering that Matt Finn and Dalton Thrower are still available.
A guy like Scott Kosmachuk is a possibility. He plays a scrappy game. He tallied 30 goals, 59 points and 110 PIMs in 67 games in Guelph.
Colton Sissons was the captain in Kelowna and also the captain for Team Orr at the Top Prospects game. His skating needs works, but he’s got loads of character. He isn’t an agitator like Kosmachuk though.
Another intriguing player is Lukas Sutter. Son of Rich Sutter, he is a hard-nosed, physical player with some skill. He tallied 28 goals, 59 points and 165 PIMs in 70 games with the Saskatoon Blades. He has good size at 6’0, 215 pounds.
I do think the Oilers would love to draft Mitch Moroz, but I’m not sure they take him at 32. That might be a tad early, and he could be available at 63. The risk is that there aren’t many players with his attributes in the draft, so another team might grab him early just to ensure they get him in their organization.