The odds of it happening are about as likely as me ending up on the cover of GQ Magazine, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s a way that the Edmonton Oilers could come away from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft with Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk of the Sarnia Sting.
Not one or the other, but both. The daily double. The one-two punch. The package deal. A longshot? Obviously. Doable? Anything is doable, and one need only look back at Brian Burke’s maneuvering to pluck Daniel and Henrik Sedin for the Vancouver Canucks at the 1999 Entry Draft. The question is: what would it take?
Going into the 2010 Entry Draft, I pondered the same scenario — pie-in-the-sky stuff, as readers pointed out – when the Oilers were stepping to the podium with their first overall pick in franchise history with Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin sitting atop the prospect rankings. Back then, I asked: "Why not both?" I ask it again.
Why not both? Because it takes the kind of brass Burke showed in 1999 to waltz away with two top picks in your pocket. Because teams with the first half of the equation in hand still need to find a dance partner to pull off the back end, and that’s something the Oilers and GM Steve Tambellini weren’t able to do with Peter Chiarelli and the Boston Bruins in 2010.
Yakupov is already on his way to Edmonton for a visit after the NHL Combine and he’s the odds-on favourite to be back in September for training camp after the Oilers take him with the No. 1 pick in Pittsburgh. Landing the dynamic Sarnia winger is the easy part. Tambellini has already said a team would have to knock his socks off to prompt him to part with the pick.
What about Galchenyuk, the talented centre who missed all but two games last season with a knee injury? Galchenyuk, of Russian heritage but born in Wisconsin, finished second among OHL rookies with 83 points in 2010-11. Yakupov, with 101, was the only freshman who was more prolific. We don’t know how high Galchenyuk would be ranked going into Pittsburgh had he not been injured, but most people think he’ll still go in the top five.
I can’t say for sure if Tambellini and the Oilers have discussed what it would take to land both of them, but I see it as a scenario with merit and one worth pursuing. Yakupov and Galchenyuk aren’t only linemates and teammates with Sarnia, they are friends. The benefits of having each other around to ease the transition to the NHL seem obvious.
With Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ales Hemsky locks for top-six jobs up front, that mix could be something approaching formidable a year or two from now if Tambellini could find a way to add Yakupov and Galchenyuk in Pittsburgh. A longshot, I know. While I’m on a what-if tangent, how far does the rebuild move along if Tambellini pulls this off and IF Justin Schultz end up in the fold on the back end?
If Galchenyuk is destined to go in the top-five, that means Tambellini will have to do business with Columbus, Montreal, the New York Islanders or Toronto, where 1999 wheeler-dealer Burke is running the show. The question is: does Tambellini have the brass to pursue the possibility?
Why not both?
FROM THE COMBINE
If you’re not familiar with Yakupov and Galchenyuk outside what you’ve seen statistically or on the evening sportscasts, there’s a bunch of clips worth looking at on both from the combine. You see Yakupov here and here. Take a look at Galchenyuk here and here.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.