From Russia, With Love?

Anatoli Semenov is one of the few Russians drafted by the Edmonton Oilers who also had an NHL career of note. The Oilers have avoided the Motherland like the Moscow Plague and Riot of 1771. Are they really going to change their ways and grab the Russian Nail?

Since 1979, Edmonton has draft 339 players. Of that group, the following were drafted out of Russia or have direct ties to Russian hockey:

  • L Igor Vyazmikin, 252nd overall in 1987
  • D Vladimir Zubkov, 208nd overall in 1988
  • C Anatoli Semenov, 120th overall in 1989
  • C Sergei Yashin, 141st overall in 1989
  • G Evgeny Belosheiken, 232nd overall in 1991
  • L Alexander Kerch, 60th overall in 1993
  • F Oleg Maltsev, 241st overall in 1993
  • D Ilya Byakin, 267th overall in 1993
  • R Dimitrius Sulba, 162nd in 1994
  • D Sergei Yerkovich, 68th overall in 1997
  • G Alex Fomitchev, 231st overall in 1997
  • L Oleg Smirnov, 144th overall in 1998
  • R Maxim Spiridonov, 241st overall in 1998
  • D Alexei Semenov, 36th overall in 1999
  • L Alexei Mikhnov, 17th overall in 2000
  • D Alexander Ljubimov, 83rd overall in 2000
  • F Evgeny Muratov, 274th overall in 2000
  • D Ivan Koltsov, 106th overall in 2002
  • F Mikhail Youkov, 72nd overall in 2003
  • D Roman Tesliuk, 44th overall in 2004
  • L Slava Trukhno, 120th overall in 2005
  • F Alex Bumagin, 170th overall in 2006

22 Russians (there might be one or two who slipped through the radar because I counted them as Slovak or they are listed as being from Belarus via hockeydb but are in fact Russian). That’s about 6.5 per cent, a very low total when we take into account the incredible amount of hockey talent Russia has produced since the 1980’s.

Edmonton has for the most part ignored Russia. They were among the first NHL teams to explore Finland and of course Sweden has been a hot spot for a long time, plus the Czech players make appearances often. Russia? Edmonton’s relationship with Russian hockey players is just about the opposite of that enjoyed by the Detroit Red Wings.

You’d have a terrible time putting together a starting lineup of Russians from the Edmonton draft list 79-12. I’d suggest the best Russian pick have been Anatoli Semenov, but after that it’s a dog’s breakfast.

Russia has not blessed the Oilers with talent, and in turn Edmonton has ignored the hell out of it. Which came first? Who cares?


There’s very little doubt the Edmonton Oilers will select Nail Yakupov first overall. He played in the OHL and has made it clear that his goal is to be an NHL player and he’s on record as hoping Edmonton takes him #1 overall.

The Oilers own past will make it will be a rare, rare moment. Perhaps it will be an opportunity to change the past and treat Russian hockey like the enormous opportunity that it clearly is and has been for decades.

  • DieHard


    I personally thin that Brandon Sutter is underrated on this board. He is young and will only get stronger. I’m obviously guessing at the upside of Brandon but i would do that trade .

    Also I don’t think Carolina would do the trade.

  • I have no doubt in my mind Nail Yakupov will score a lot of goals but the Oilers won’t win when it matters with elite wingers.

    If the plan is to move Hall to C2 and trade Gagner I can buy into that. I’m probably the only one in favour of trading back, but I hope I’m wrong.

  • O.C.


    what are the chances of the Oil picking up a 2nd first round pick? do you know who else they’re interested in between say 5 and 15? what would they have to give up for something like that?

    think they’d be interested in adding one of the russian centers to play with yakupov?

    • Lowetide

      I suspect they’ll push hard to get Griffin Reinhart. They’ll lose out on Murray but if there’s a way to get back up there my bet is EDM actually trades up (last time was 2007) in the first round.

  • O.C.

    The picks from Russia were horrible. Need figure out who has an addiction to the Knife and Fork or horrible work ethic(cough) Roman Tesliuk (cough).

    It’s a no-brainer this time. The top ranked by everyone is who you pick.

    But guessing is they will still be gunshy on Russians in later rounds cuz they simply don’t have a strong Russian scout.

    (Although that could change with a Number One overall on your roster – that would open doors)

    • DieHard

      I can agree that he might open up the lines between the Oil and Russia. I wonder if there is a Russian projected to be late first/early second this year AND fills a need?

  • Lowetide


    Given the fact we will draft Yakupov that makes 5 top 6 forwards including

    RNH, Hall , Eberle and Gagner.

    I personally think you need a big 2 way center in your top 6 to compete.

    I know there are other needs puck moving D Power forward etc

    The question is would this trade be possible and would you go for it?

    Sam Gagner + Linus Omark for Brandon Sutter.

  • Lowetide

    well, without knowing for certain I think it’s reasonable to suggest that the Oilers either did or were going to contact them for a meeting. Sounds like the agent–a legend–had an agenda and it may well be that they’re a little worried Edmonton won’t take him #1.

    I can’t see it. This is pretty close to a consensus, certainly more certain than Hall or Nuge.

  • Lowetide

    Lowtide, I hope someone from the Oilers spoke with Nail and his camp. I know the Oilers make decisions that causes lots of their fans to raise their eyebrows, but to completely disregard this young man when given 1st pick doesn’t seem to be something the Oilers would do. I was just going by what several of the articles I’ve been reading suggested. Listening to Lowe and Tambo talking about winning the lottery, and the possibility of having the Yak on the team, my sense was that they were excited about having him with Hall, Eberle and RNH.

  • RexLibris

    I really think the only reason that Nail wants to be an Oiler is because Edmonton picks first. What young hockey player going into the draft wouldn’t want to be picked first overall? If I were Nail or his agent I wouldn’t be very impressed with the Oilers at all. Nobody from the management even bothered to give him the courtesy of at least a phone call. To me, that speaks volumes.

    • DieHard

      Nail knows he’s the concensus number 1. What would he have said if Columbus had retained it – who knows. He might have said something similar or maybe nothing at all. What I know is that the Oilers have been re-building and everyone knows it too. Everyone also knows that we have some great young elite level talent coming along and he wants to be part of that and not with the potential mess occurring in Columbus right now.

    • Lowetide

      That story got circulated but the Oilers apparently contacted the other of his two agents. I can’t imagine Edmonton would opt out of the conversation, seems ST wants to see the whites of their eyes. PLUS there’s the Oil Change cameras.

  • RexLibris

    After Yakupov the only other forward I would be alright with the Oilers drafting this high might be Galchenyuk. It’d be a drop-off, but I’d be a lot more comfortable with Galchenyuk than Grigorenko and Forsberg just feels a little too much like Pajaarvi right now.

    While the Oilers haven’t drafted many Russians, it should probably also be said that there were many occasions wherein they ought to have drafted one or two more rather than the selections they did make. I’m not saying they should have had the foresight to take Datsyuk in the 1st or 2nd round, but really, even Konstantin Koltsov would have been an improvement over Jani Rita in ’99, he actually played 144 NHL games.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I have thought the Oilers have been lacking that tough as Nail(s) Russian for a long time. this year I hope they take him.

    “We score more goal. We win”

    Happy 4/20 (tomorrow) to you too, Lowetide

  • Nah, they’ll pick Yakupov, I just had a short window to get that in, and the post had nothing to do with Suttons Transgressions or Steve Tambellini, and my mom wouldn’t appreciate “F*ck it” being my first two words…..