Softening the ground for a Yakupov trade?

There’s a lot to be said about yesterday’s 40-minute long press conference held by Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. One of the things that stood out to me was how careful Tambellini was to emphasize that the first overall pick would be a boon to the organization – whether he kept it or sent it away.

From Tambellini, emphasis mine:

It presents options. It presents a lot of options to us. You get to be in control of the top part of the draft. You’re able to listen to other teams ideas of moving up or moving down… it just presents I think a wonderful opportunity with this time in the Oilers history when we’re accumulating some elite talented players that we know we’re going to add another significant piece or package when we leave the draft.

The phase, I think, that we’re just coming into, presents us with more comfort, I think, that we can listen to legitimate options. We’ve accumulated a good amount of high-end skill throughout our organization. A lot of it, most of it is not here yet, but it allows us to think about if you move down a pick, if you move down three picks, of adding a solid player and maybe a current player. I don’t know. I just feel more comfortable knowing that our stable is more accomplished than what it was a few years ago.

I’m really open right now. I’m leaving tomorrow night to meet Stu MacGregor at the under-18 world championships and I know that we’re going to go through our top end of our list here. I think we’re in a spot here where if the talent is equitable – you’re not taking an A player for a B player – but if you believe that the potential is similar and the talent and the characters are similar that we’re in a spot where we can discuss by position at this point.

Well when you’re speaking of attaining a player at that point in the draft you know that quality is there. So adding that level of player to your organization, regardless if he plays next year or the year after or the year after that, you know that you’re adding a significant piece. Whether it’s through just the single player or the package that you entertain to possibly also complete. So you know that this is another significant piece to the organization in getting better and everything’s pointing to our organization that things are getting better. That’s a good sign.

Now, those hints are a long way from saying “yeah, I’m going to deal the first overall pick, so you’d best get used to the idea.” However, I can’t recall Tambellini going out of his way to drop these sorts of comments when he was talking about Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Certainly, he didn’t repeat the point as frequently then as he did yesterday.

As an interesting counterpoint, Bob Stauffer wrote a piece for the Oilers website advising the team to keep the number one pick. I tend to think he’s right, particularly after looking at various studies on the value of draft picks. There’s tremendous value in top-five picks, than a steep decline that gets gradually less steep as one gets further into the draft. Put another way, moving from 1st overall to 6th overall is probably a bigger drop in terms of likely return in an average draft than moving from 15th to 30th would be. If that trade’s going to be made, the return had better be spectacular and history shows us that it typically isn’t.

It’s probably also worth remembering the last time this happened. Florida owned the first overall pick in 2002, and wanted to draft Jay Bouwmeester. Columbus owned the third overall pick and were scared Rick Nash wouldn’t last that long. So the teams made a trade – Columbus moved up to first overall in exchange for granting Florida the option to swap first round picks next year (an option they never exercised. Florida then sent a third and fourth round pick to Atlanta to make sure the Thrashers didn’t take Bouwmeester second overall.

Ultimately, at this point we don’t know what Tambellini is going to do with that first overall pick. If and when he trades it to move down in the draft order, we won’t know if the deal panned out until years down the road. One just hopes that if he does trade down he makes sure that he’s getting more than a second round pick for his troubles.

One Last Thing

It’s been suggested to me that I was something of a rube for believing that Steve Tambellini was sincere back in January when he said he wanted his team to avoid the draft lottery.  Tambellini is sticking by his story – asked about drafting first overall, he quipped, “Well we weren’t supposed to this year.”

Now, possibly, he’s keeping up the story to make it clear that his plans for the team fell through.  It seems simpler to believe, however, that he keeps saying this because he’s telling the truth.

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  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    I have no faith in this man.Anyone ever notice when asked a tough question he looks like he is trying to swallow a mouth full of thumb tacks.His record speaks for itself and for no more reason than that he should be gone.

  • Pizzy

    I believe the Oiler’s should hold on to the number 1 pick this year and draft Yakupov. (unless they receive a spectacular package to move down -which I dont think will happen). Someone mentioned the idea of swapping picks with Toronto with Schenn coming our way, and then the Oilers using this pick for a (Reinhart/Dumba) as I doubt Murray would still be there. I would take the potential exciting BURE type player over having the latter. defenseman are two hard to predict and Schenn or a NHL equivalent type player (young D prospect) is not enough in my opinion. Unless a ESTABLISHED top 4 defenseman comes the other way, even as far as ESTABLISHED top 2, I dont think it is worth it. Obviously I havent seen much of Yakupov, but from what I have read he could be a franchise player. He may be small, but the “Mini Ovechkin” type physicality and going into the tough areas is not the same as comparing to our other small skilled forwards (gagner, Eberle, Hemsky).

    • bazmagoo

      I’d go as far as saying you don’t trade the pick unless it’s for an established #1 defenceman. The last 5 #1 picks are RNH, Hall, Tavares, Stamkos and Kane. I wouldn’t trade any of those players unless it was for an established #1 defenceman.

  • I highly doubt he would trade the pick- likely his comments are just to appear open to the idea, to encourage other GMs to give him offers. This year, more than ever, it’s apparent the Oilers need a top pairing D making it more likely to trade the top pick. However, no one is going to call up Tambi and offer OEL, Pietrangelo, or Karlsson for the top pick, so Tambi will (hopefully) keep it.

  • Oilers89

    I can accept Tambellini is being truthful, but I find it hard to buy that Lowe isn’t aware that the efforts made would amount to much. He has shown more acumen in his history. Certainly he can’t think Barker is a great defenceman. It doesn’t make sense.

    It is possible Lowe has lost it, but to me seems more likely things are going as he hoped. If I am right, poor Steve and likely Renney will take the fall for this. And perhaps some day soon Lowe will catch up with his rival Burke and be Pres and GM.

    Which all seems unnecessary. Oiler fans don’t need to be misled about tanking. Of course the team can’t publicly say that’s the plan, but I think many fans would be on board for “accumulating elite talent” as you said, and at the end of the day, the seats will still be full, as long as oil flows, costs a lot, and gives Edmontonians a lot of disposable income.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    To even think of re-gifting what you’ve been given is surreal. Yakupov has seperated himself from the rest of the pack and he’s yours for the taking. To even think of trading this pick must only confirm incompetence.

    After seeing what has taken place here during the last 3 yrs here. I have little doubt that the regime/management group here is just what the other teams need, in order to fleece this player from the Oilers grasp. The Oilers wouldn’t be this stupid….would they?

    • Soccer Steve

      What shows more incompetence?

      Analyzing and considering any and all offers.


      Not being open to any offers whatsoever.

      In a hypothetical dreamworld the Pens offer Malkin for our 1st overall, straight up. Tambellini would say yes. You, however, according to your comment, would say no.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Not to worry Soccer Steve. Sometimes i like to run in circles flailing my arms in the air and enjoy others responses. The sky isn’t falling.

        Still wouldn’t do that Malkin deal. The kids are the future 3,4,5 yrs from now. Malkin is the peaking now.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Champaign dreams and a beer budget for most managers i’m sure. I can see why the Oilers go through this process with other GM’s. Stuff gets started here and can lead to so many other possibilities. Players whom you felt teams weren’t willing to part with suddenly become available in a deal like that. Maybe the Oil can still get said player without involving that first selection. Every inquiry/call is probably noted/filed away for further possible opportunities.

        Nothing out of the normal going on here, JW is just whipping the masses into a frenzy.

        • Actually, I’m noting the difference between Tambellini’s comments this year and in previous years.

          There was some suggestion the team could trade down on RNH, virtually none at all on Hall. This is the first time that Tambellini’s been this focused on the possibility publicly.

          I find that newsworthy. Obviously, you’re welcome to a different opinion but you haven’t got my motivations here pegged.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      Reading your comments, I don’t always agree with you. This comment is an exception, though.

      Keep the damn pick. This kid’s going to be special, and the top 2 lines for next year should make it easier for Renney (or his replacement) to give some of the kids sheltered minutes if need be.