If they redid the 2012 Draft, would Nail Yakupov still go first overall?

The Hockey News just did their annual Future Watch issue, surveying scouts from every NHL team and asking them to rank the best prospects in the game. Is Nail Yakupov still seen as the cream of the 2012 crop?

Yes, he is.

The top-three of Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray and Alex Galchenyuk remain intact, though Galchenyuk slides ahead of Murray according to the scouts THN talked to. The magazine’s stated criteria for Future Watch is to rank players by who will be the best NHL’er in five to 10 years; despite Yakupov’s struggles adjusting to the NHL he’s seen as the guy who will ultimately emerge as the best of the lot.

Other big moves:

Defenceman Slater Koekkoek, the 10th overall pick by Tampa Bay after a brilliant but injury-shortened 2011-12 campaign, received no votes in Future Watch. Thus far this season, Koekoek has 29 points in 42 games and a minus-24 rating. Fellow blueliner Cody Ceci, who went 15th overall to Ottawa, also missed out – he has 62 points in 67 games and a minus-10 rating.

Seventh overall pick Matt Dumba – who briefly contended for the top consensus ranking on the blueline early in the 2011-12 season – saw his stock fall too; if the scouts THN talked to redid the draft today, he’d fall to 17th. Derek Pouliot (8th overall) and Griffin Reinhart (4th overall) saw smaller drops, each falling seven spots in the new rankings.

Jacob Trouba and Mikhail Grigorenko both made big strides, with Trouba rising from ninth overall to fourth in these rankings, and Grigorenko rising from 12th to sixth despite unimpressive stats in Buffalo.

The biggest jump came for Russian star Andrei Vasilevski, who has excelled in consecutive World Juniors (and is playing lights-out in Russia). He jumped from 19th overall on draft day to 10th overall in these rankings. Eight spot jumps were made by forwards Scott Laughton and Stefan Matteau, defenceman Olli Maatta, and goaltenders Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk.

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  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Seems kinda pointless to go over a draft after 25 games. I hope people didn’t have to pay for that and it was just a freebie online at THN.

  • 106 and 106

    Waiting for DSF to chime in and proclaim he is smarter than all the NHL scouts because he says Yak is a bust.

    “Peter Mueller is a better hockey player than Yakupov” (per DSF) HAHAhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…. still laughing about that one. Haha ha.

      • Wendy01

        DSF was babbling incoherently about how awesome Peter Mueller is and how the Oilers need him. Someone asked if we should offer Yakupov for Mueller (ridiculous I know). DSFs exact response:

        “No, I wouldn’t make that trade because of the injury situation but Yakupov is NOT a better hockey player.”


        • John Chambers

          DSF was baiting people just for “sh*ts and giggles” and you’d be amazed at how many people bit.

          I challenged him to come up with a scenario where he trades Taylor Hall for David Steckle just to see how many people would bite.

          It was entertaining, in a sickly DSF kind of way.

        • DSF

          Perhaps you have some evidence that Yakupov is currently a better hockey player than Mueller.

          Mueller 6G 6A 12P -3

          Yakupov 6G 7A 13P -11.

          Mueller plays for a team that currently has a goal differential of -37.

          Yakupov plays for a team that has a goal differential of -12.

          While it’s likely Yakupov will improve with age and experience, a lot of things can go wrong on the way to Grandma’s house….just ask Mueller about concussions….can happen to anyone.

          I await your evidence.

          • DSF

            Hahahaaaaaaaaa. You have to be joking, so I’m not going to waste my time responding.

            I also have wondered if DSF is some alter ego Wanye trying to stir up traffic for Oilers Nation. Thats way more logical than trying to think he could actually believe 80% of the things he says.

          • DSF

            I hate to even engage you, since its impossible to debate someone irrational….

            30 games into his rookie career Stamkos had 3g, 7a. So according to your logic Peter Mueller is also a better hockey player than Steven Stamkos.

            Its asinine…. Lets talk about Yak in a few years, its just pure a$$ talk now. Dumb.

          • Wax Man Riley

            i notice that Meuller is obviously a better player than Stamkos and I would take him on my team over “Stamkos the Bust”™ every day.


          • DSF

            Extrapolating from a small sample size can be dangerous, DSF. For example, Yak was +2 last night in Colorado. Assuming he has turned the corner on his defensive play, and thus projecting last nights performance over the rest of the season, that translates to a +/- of +33, or over an 82 game season, +101. Real meaningful. As meaningful as your projections.

          • DSF

            Oh, I think comparing rookie seasons gives us a little bit of insight.

            While the sample size is small it can help to illustrate that things can go up (Stamkos) or down (Mueller) in subsequent years.

            Was Yakupov the right choice?

            Maybe, although if its’ at all close you should always pick a centre over a winger.

            Yakupov certainly hasn’t done enough thus far to convince me he is better than Galchenyuk.

          • DSF

            End of the day the bottom line is just that the consensus of NHL scouts as a collective is that Yak was and still is the best.

            Maybe you are smarter than all NHL scouts.

          • StHenriOilBomb

            And I assume so have you. It doesn’t mean that your opinion is invalid. In fact, if scores of people with your penchant for stats and critical thinking came to a consensus I’d be inclined to listen to it.

          • DSF

            Yes I have.

            But, when a draft pick is being lionized while others are outperforming him is a little daft.

            Early days to be sure but I doubt Yakupov will be a more valuable player than Galchenyuk.

          • StHenriOilBomb

            You may be right, but that doesn’t mean that it was the wrong pick. (is that an oxymoron?)

            What I mean is that on draft day there were dozens and dozens of experienced professionals with the tools to analyse player performance. Most of them pegged Yakupov as the top available candidate. Many admitted that Galchenyuk was probably on the same level, but that it is hard to have that kind of confidence in a player who missed so much of such an important development year. Yak was closer to a sure thing. A known entity.

            The choice, I imagine, came down to positional need vs. “sure thing”. They chose the more proven player. Fine with me. If Yak busts, or Galchenyuk goes super-galactic I’ll be annoyed and pissed off, but will try to remember that I, along with most of the hockey world were behind Yak as the first overall pick.

            Of all things, this is not one I will choose to fault management for.

  • Spydyr

    Alex Galchenyuk would have been a better fit for the team. Yak will be a scoring machine down the road in my opinion. With only 25 games in it is impossible to tell who the better player will be. Try this again in five years.

    • DSF

      So Spydyr, your on the record for drafting by positional need and not BPA. Yes?

      Also, the draft is, to a significant degree, a game of “probability”. If your a GM and your given a choice in horse race between the odds on favorite at 2 to 1, the second ranked horse at 5 to 1, and the third ranked horse at 8 to 1, with your job on the line, it’s almost impossible to not take the horse ranked at 2 to 1. In this case YAK.

      • Spydyr

        @Old Retired Guy

        Not sure where you pulled I’m against drafting the BPA from my comment.

        I just said Galchenyuk would have been a better fit for the team. Then mentioned Yak should be a scoring machine and too check back in five years to see who is the best player .

        Please don’t put words in my mouth.

        • DSF

          I’m not putting words in your mouth.

          You said “would have been” a better fit….

          I read that to mean, past tense (as in at the draft)

          I see now that you meant, in hind sight.

          Just trying to clarify your stance on BPA.

          • Spydyr

            OK cool for me it is always BPA. Even if you have to trade the player later to fill a need. Something the Oilers should consider doing. No, I’m not saying trade Yak but the team needs to trade what they have an abundance of for what they have a shortfall of. That is a rebuild not just drafting a number one every year till the team is stacked with skilled players.Heart is required to win.

  • Spydyr

    Thanks for the update JW. Helps to keep things in perspective amidst a sea of varying opinions.

    Really Nice to see Yak remains the consensus #1. Especially with Alex Galchenyuk playing well getting so much good ( and by good, I mean Eastern) press of late.

    Also nice to see that your and Gregors past assessments about Dmen being a crap shoot / hit and miss proposition in the top half of the first round (or perhaps the entire first round)actually being born out by the drop of so many Dmen in the rankings.

    With the exception of Jacob Trouba who, if I’m rememering correctly, looked outstanding in the World Juniors for the USA. One or two Dman climb the ranks while 5 or 6 fall dramatically.

    • OilersBrass

      Every kid listed in this article are all amazing players and will all play in the NHL. They were JUST drafted less than a year ago, and most of them are still playing in juniors.

      The thing about these kids when they go back to the juniors, is they don’t try as hard or kill themselves trying to stay highly ranked because they’ve already been drafted. There are also younger kids on the their teams going in to their draft years, and thats when these kids that are already drafted take a step back to let the other kids shine.

      It’s pointless now to look back and say that other kids would have dropped in the draft. I guarantee if all these kids still played in juniors and tried their hardest Yak might not be number one.

      • DSF

        @ #30 Logan83

        “Every kid listed in this article are all amazing players and will all play in the NHL. They were JUST drafted less than a year ago, and most of them are still playing in juniors.”

        I get your point that its too early to make rash decisions regarding the future of any of these kids….that is TRUE.

        But the idea that Every kid listed there will make it in the NHL is NOT TRUE….the statistics dont bear that out.

        • OilersBrass

          I just explained why their statistics are lower than their draft year, and being a good hockey player isn’t just about putting up goals and assists.

          Every kid in this article will play in the NHL, and i’m betting all the people in this forum who know anything about hockey will agree with me. Heck half of them already are in the NHL and the other half got called up to training camp and almost made their teams.

  • John Chambers

    There are some nice C’s that will be available between 4 and 7 in this upcoming draft.

    I’m hoping the Oil play well enough to miss out on Barkov, but Monaghan or the Swede would be nice additions, especially if Gagner plays himself out of the Oilers budget.

    Yak’s snipes will soon make a superstar out if any cente he plays will.

    • Wendy01

      Nice C’s indeed.

      If the Oilers tank the rest of the way they get a McKinnon, or Barkov, or Monaghan.

      If they compete hard but miss the playoffs, they get a Lindholm or a Wennberg

      If they squeek into the playoffs they a get a Gauthier or a Lazar.

      Pretty impressive.

      • DSF

        Which has me wondering…..

        Putting all of the HATE the Management rhetoric aside for a minute….

        Wouldn’t it make sense that, when drafting, professional sports teams look ahead at future drafts?

        It seems highly probable to me that, at the 2012 draft, the Oilers may have looked forward to this years draft with all these Centers coming available, and that it might have partially influenced the choice/abiltiy to take a winger like YAK. (and wait until 2013 to pick up the much needed center).

        • DSF

          If a team adopted that strategy it would run the risk of not being able to afford to pay the young stars that cam before as their ELC’s expired,

          That’s exactly what’s going to happen to the Oilers.

          • DSF

            I get your logic. But wouldn’t you just be forced to trade one or two of these young stars along the way….which gives you the ability to do three things…

            1) Keep the guys that fill the roles you need filled and,
            2) A year or to down the road ( when your ready to contend) Trade one of the young stars for a proven NHL’er again in a position/role that you need filled
            3)Trade one of the young stars for a bottom six role player and restock the cupboard with furture draft picks

          • DSF

            That’s a perpetual rebuild strategy.

            Look at the way Lombardi did things in LA.

            Stockpiled G.

            Stockpiled D.

            Stockpiled C.

            As soon as there were enough assets in the system, he started dealing veterans for younger players who would fit in his win window (see Visnovsky for Green and Stoll) and then used his excess D and C assets to being in what he needed.

            The Oilers have no depth at G, D, or C.

            They have a bunch of young scoring wingers that can be very difficult to move for top pairing D or top 6 C.

          • John Chambers

            I don’t see the perpetual rebuild at all.

            I see perpetual change. Which is actually a strategy to AVOID perpetual rebuild.

            I also don’t see why postion matters that much. The point is building talented depth at ANY position. YAK or Ebrle WILL bring back a talented D, or G or C if thats what’s needed.

            So YES to the Lombardi history/strategy….NO to the fact the it about D,G,C…..it’s about an excess of talent at any postion that will allow you to trade for specific assets that fit your bill come contention time…or that enable to retock along the way so as to avoid a cycle of boom and bust.

          • John Chambers

            Eberle could be traded for:

            One of Staal, Del Zotto, or MxDonagh along with maybe a Kreider (big winger) if the Oil sweetened the deal.

            A combination of Justin Faulk along with Jiri Tlusty (big winger)

            Roman Josi and maybe Jon Blum, although the latter is more a 4-5 guy

            Karl Alzner +

            Eric Gudbrandson and Kris Versteeg

            Straight up for Cam Fowler, Tobias Enstrom, or Dan Boyle.

            Eberle has significant trade value.

  • Wendy01

    Subban jumped up in rankings? Huh. Surprising as I didn’t find him to be an asset to Canada at the WJHC. I understand that he is a young player, but so were all the other kids, so in comparison…..

  • DSF

    It’s nice to see that Gal is panning out. That was actually a pretty substantial risk in that the kid came off a non season with injury. That he went third overall and is in the conversation for who would have been the better first overall is very impressive.

    However, Gal is also getting a lot of prime minutes, whereas Yak from the get go has not been put out in all situations due to his defensive misplays. Which would suggest Gal was the better pick, but I don’t see that in the long term. And everyone says Gal was the better fit, but when / if Hemsky ever leaves, there’s a big hole to fill on our second line right wing. Plus, it’s very likely we get that big centre with skill at the draft this year, even if we make the playoffs.

    Finally, if Magnus of late is any indication, the thing the Oilers might just need, is some patience from the fans. If Lander and Harti can keep developing, this team looks good for a good long time.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Most of the shuffling on that list seems to be with the D. That seems obvious.

    The least straight line in development is D (other than G which is rarely up for first round chat for that very reason).

    Last year, people got a little ahead of themselves chasing Griffin and Co. It was a big year for D at the draft and it looks like just as big as mistake now as it did then.

    The point being… who the eff knows where these D are going to end up in 5-6 years!

    • Dipstick

      Good point. It further reinforces the theory of avoiding D early in the draft. Probably better to let others risk it and sign the elite ones once they are UFA and at their prime.

  • Spydyr

    The one thing that I noticed with Yakupov is his improved “away from the puck” play. After being schooled by Jagr in the OT loss, he’s really improved. He was absolutely terrible at the start of the season. But on that play you realize just how lost he was. He was yelling and looking behind him to see the dman behind him, and in that split second Jagr pulled out and scored the OT winner… pwn’d by one of his idols.

    What I’ve noticed in the last 4-5 games is Yakupov’s defensive play and hustle. He makes at least one really good defensive play in each of those games.

    @DSF: How’s Granlund doing? Can’t hack playing in the big leagues yet eh? Maybe you can ask your mom to make him a peanut butter sandwich just like the one she made you before tucking you to bed.


  • OilClog

    So Yakupov currently has 1 more point the Mueller…

    So statistically speaking, since they’re both scoring forwards.. and Yakupov in his first season already has 1 more point, then Mueller the I am not a rookie.. That would make him better.. correct.. because he has more points.. in a league where scoring is the most important part.. Hmmm.

    How friggin good are both of these guys compared to that Granlund kid??? WOW!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This is what losers do, all mired in a slumber of imperfection and micro statistical analysis. +/- is more of a unit performance, team play, moreso than the solo value of some players obviously struggling their first few yrs in the league.

    5v5,+/-,Save%, team goal differential, yada yada yada. Kids are expected to struggle, it’s the all too familiar on again off again veteran support on this club. Pin the tail on those donkeys.

    The kids are all right…..

  • Wax Man Riley

    It’s way too early to say definitively but Yakupov was the consensus pick and I remember most fans wanted to draft him. I like Galchenyuk too but it would be difficult to take somebody who played so few games in his draft year 1st overall. There were some people in the Murray camp and his injury is unfortunate but his ceiling is much lower than Yak’s anyways. Hindsight being what it is, people will question this decision from time to time but Yak was the best prospect back then and still seems like the best prospect in that draft today.

  • Truth

    Murray will be Chris Phillips without the (very slight) physicality. No doubter to take Yak, although Galchenyuk has the benefit of being a natural center. Yak will be a beast in a few years

  • DSF

    I think OIlers should have been drafting for need last year. It’s not like Crosby was an option on the podium.The need was a center and defense , but they took BPA, because someone else made the pick for them ! Not eash to acquire a stud ctr, or d- man.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Anyone know what Stamkos’ scoring was over his first 26 games? I seem to remember him having a wicked second half…

    These comparisons are useless so early into someone’s career. Yak’s career could be like that of a Kovalchuk, or a Yashin or anywhere in between. We don’t know. All we know is that the kid competes extremely hard, has a wicked shot, and can’t play defense.

    Jeff Skinner had a better stats his rookie season than Stamkos or Tavares did in theirs. Does that mean he’s the better long term choice?

  • DSF

    The Oilers had to pick Yak. He broke Stamko’s rookie scoring records with Sarnia. He may have been older when he did it, but still. Also, the Oilers could sse what he could without Gally. They didn’t get a good look at Gally without Yak or Gally in his draft eligibilty year at all.

    We armchair scouts have no skin in the game, if we did, we likely would have pushed Yak.

      • Where’s you evidence for this?

        You have MacGregor, Musil, Hawley and I can’t remember the other one all pick Yakupov. That’s half the scouting staff.

        You have Mac-T telling a room full of media people prior to the draft that you need to score goals to win?

        Then Katz just walks in the meeting and over rules who exactly?