The Edmonton Oilers selection of Nail Yakupov No. 1 overall in the 2012 NHL Entry draft remains a story 18 months later. For one reason or another, the Yak City pick hasn’t settled in like the Hall and Nuge drafts. The story got a little publicity this morning, and one wonders if we’ll be dealing with it for years. 


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Bob McKenzie confirmed a well known Edmonton rumor in October, tweeting out that the "majority of Edmonton scouts wanted Murray, and the decision to take Yakupov came from a higher authority. 

The story came up this morning when I was on the air at TSN 1260, and I wanted to mention it today. The push from media came courtesy Eric Duhatschek

  • Lots of people in Edmonton believe that owner Darryl Katz had some significant input into the decision to draft Nail Yakupov first overall in 2012 rather than opt for the safer choice, defenceman Ryan Murray, who would have filled a greater organizational need. With every passing day, that decision looks more and more suspect. Murray was limited to 23 games with the Everett Silvertips last year because of major knee surgery, but even as an NHL rookie, has looked good on the Columbus defence, playing a lot with James Wisniewski and providing the defensive presence on that pair. What if Murray turns out to be Alex Pietrangelo good – and they left him on the table to draft another offensive player, of which they had plenty already? How do you assess blame there? Or maybe they already have, since the GM that called Yakupov’s name, Steve Tambellini, is no longer running the show.


I find the conversation surprising. Although there’s no doubt Nail Yakupov has struggled this season, Mr. Duhatschek’s story is the first time "blame" has been mentioned. Presumptive? Certainly, but it’s out there now, and should Nail Yakupov not deliver on promise, the scouting staff would appear to be free and clear. 

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I’d still bet on Yakupov. All day. 

In a period where Oilers owner Daryl Katz is taking some heat for his team’s won-loss record, perhaps fans need to be reminded that (reportedly) his draft day decisions are very likely to deliver. It remains very risky to take defensemen at #1 overall, and 45 NHL games don’t change that at all. 

  • On a better run team Yak would have been groomed in the minors. But not here. This is not the first case of Oil messing with development. They ruined Jeff Delauriers development by not having their own farm team. The incompetence has run long and deep with the Oilers. For shame.

  • reaperfunkss

    It’s a sad day when the Oiler fans are forced to discard an entire 82 game season year in and year out but only look forward to one day and one day only…draft day!

    • Bloodsweatandoil

      Can someone make a chart showing everyone whose left the organization by trade or release and those brought in since 2006. I’d bet its ugly.

      For example, Stoll, Greene, Visnovsky all out, Ryan Whitney in…oh wait, he’s gone too; so that leaves 0 in return. Smells like good management to me.

  • Oilers Coffey

    I am sick n tired of hearing this story on the selection of Yakupov.
    The Oilers picked the most dynamic player available in the draft!
    Yakupov is going to develop and be one HELL of an NHL player.
    End of story!!!

  • emonkee

    I know this is unrelated to LT’s article, but why did the oilers create a video “STILL” talking about that weird goal…who gives a crap? We lost the game, why bother interviewing Gordon and Dubnyk? If we win the game, then fine. But we lost, I think there are other more important things to focus on.

  • Oilers Coffey

    I just finished the Oiler season ticket survey, it actually was pretty good, they had two places where you got 750 words to make comments about how you felt.I had to do a lot of abbreviating.I hope everyone took the time to say the same things they post on here.

    As far as Yak goes the team had to know he had some defensive short comings and should be doing a better job working with him.I am not going to go on hind-site,I wanted a big center(Galynchuk) and Yak was my second choice, they drafted him and I was fine with it. He is not like the rest of the
    young guns when it comes to the night life etc and his family is in Edmonton with him. I think with a little coaching and maturity he will score a lot of big goals for hopefully this team.
    Move Gagner and Hemsky and bring in a big veteran two way center to play with Yak and he will be fine.

  • Off topic… this year hall’s scoring chance numbers for and against have been atrocious for the first time in … ever?

    What is causing this?

    His line’s possessions are often one and done, and when the opposition gains our zone it almost always results in a multichance scenario.

    For a good 10 game stretch I noticed hall start to back check hard and strip the opposition of the puck, but he’s already reverted back to his old habits and the back checks have stopped.

    Eberle, Nuge, Hall, Gagner, and Yak are all guilty of giving up on a back check if there is no chance that they catch the forward, or if they think another forward on their line has a step on them and they need to stay back for a quick turnaround or to cover the opposition’s D at the point in our end. I see this all the time with these guys. And worse yet, the odd time that they do back check hard, they quit right as they catch up to the puck carrier and they try a really half assed poke check that never works.

    This is something that these guys need to learn… right now.
    Even if you have absolutely zero chance of catching the puck carrier, you’d be surprised how often a little back pressure can help your d stand a guy up and the blue line. Not only that, but even if you are a few steps behind the carrier, often times your defensemen will often slow them down as they enter the zone, allowing you an opportunity to strip them of the puck before their team can get set up or at the very least gain a few more steps on them in that moment.
    When you see one of your linemates poised to be the first forward back, then it becomes your job to beat the support, which still requires hard back checking. This will make the zone entry and possession that much harder to establish every time.
    If our young guys want more time in the offensive zone and less time aimlessly wandering around in their own end, make a bigger effort to prevent the zone entry and possession set up in the first place. Most people reading this should think… well duh captain obvious, but yet these pro’s often refuse to do it. It’s clear that we have trouble defending once a top team is set up in our end. But we have the speed and skill to get back and make it really difficult for them to set up in the first place.

    Everyone who’s ever played hockey knows they’ve decided not to backcheck at least a couple times because there really was no possible way of catching up with the puck carrier, but to see pro’s do it with such regularity is sickening. Move your ass, and protect the house. Stop letting the other team enter our zone with such ease. This is just a drop in the bucket of problems with this team, but it’s a simple fundamental of hockey that most 8 year old hockey players are aware of. And it’s also something that has really creeped in to Eberle and Gagner’s games as of late. Hall isn’t tracking so well either in this regard.

    It’s much easier for your defensemen to strip an oncoming forward of the puck if you are on that guy’s tail with some solid back pressure. The benefits of a hard back check are many, and the problems caused by refusing to do it are many more. If you’re able to skate that hard WITH the puck, you should be able to skate even harder without it. Tired of this simple problem always creeping in to the game. And it’s not like these guys aren’t aware of this, it’s just that they are so desperate for offense that they hope the d men will create a quick turnover so they can get an odd man rush. Not sure if they’ve noticed yet, but our d can’t exactly stand up top teams at the blue line with any regularity. You have to get back there. You always hear pros say that in order to get out of a slump they just simplify their game… well.. this is one of the simplest fundamentals of hockey, so frikkin’ do it.

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    The point of the articles was not to debate the better pick (nobody will know that answer for 5 more years) rather it was to debate who is calling the shots…

    I think it’s baffling that everyone is mentioning Katz as making the pick when in all likely hood it was Kevin Lowe. If Katz said anything it’s because KLowe told him too…

    Until Katz grows a pair (without KLowe’s permission) this team will forever spin in a downward spiral because 6 Rings is, self admittedly, in on every decision of this team.

    The 6 ring circus needs to stop and take the entire circus out of town. It starts with KLowe and ends with Eakins. Get a real PHOP, let that person hire a real GM. Let that GM hire a real coach. The the coach hire real assistants.

    The culture needs a 180, and it starts at the top.

  • Name 3 1st overall picks who ddeveloped in the minors.
    better yet name 1 fwd drafted 1st over all who developed in the minors.

    When you draft 1st overall your team socks. You need that player in the line up.

    Eakins is to blame. Lowe is to be fired.


    A coach is like a teacher, if your kids at school lose interest in a subject, the teacher tell him he is useless go sit in a corner. The kid doesn’t get to play in reset, wouldn’t you as parents be mad as hell? A coach need to teach and inspire his players, I can teach a cat to come to me when I call it ( tell it to sit, the cat sit like as a dog would ), why the hell Eakin cannot teach these players? Eakin insulted Nazem Kadri when he played for the Marlies (called him fat at training camp), if he is out of shape then whip him into shape. Eakin is screwing up Yakupov’s developement, benching the guy? Why can’t Eakin coach him and the rest of the team? Justin Schulz and Hall kept making mistakes and so many giveaways each game but they are not benched? Gagner broke his jaws, he cannot eat foods for a month, can’t blame him for not up to par after he joined the team. Coach them and let them have fun, score some goals, play defense as a team.
    Forget about Murray from draft 2 years ago, they got Nurse last year, Nurse will be better than Murray down the road. Yakupov is a scorer, most teams would love to have him. Let the guy play, if he make mistakes correct him, the season is over so might as well play for the fans last 30 games or so.

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    Some of this stories are getting desperate for this writers. Lowetied, are you saying yak is not better than Murry? Why did you write this garbage article the end of last season? You are pathetic …….. Please retire sooooooon….

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    Wow, ON needs a moderator at times, there are some weird and completely ignorant people who should not be around computers!

    To the theme of the blog, the scouts picked Murray, management picked Yakupov.

    In my opinion, I think management got it right in that aspect, but I think they should have traded Yakupov at that moment for roster needs within the roster. Even if they picked Murray, they should of done the same.

    The Oilers are still not better with the top three number ones. Adding more is not going to help either.

    This season really magnifies hindsight, I would hope after all these mistakes, a lesson is going to be learned sometime.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    yeah, because taking Ryan Murray with the geniuses who run this PoS organization wouldnt have turned into a total clown college pick anyhow. who was he going to play with that made him “look good”? pfff haha . . kid would be -10 or more and have about 5-10 points

    TSN just likes to stir up a poop pot on teams that arent MTL, TOR, or VAN. they can F-off for the rest of my hockey interested life.

  • Rdubb

    Maybe 45 doesn’t make or change things, but Katz has people in place to run the Oilers, and he should leave hockey decisions to the HOCKEY PEOPLE!!
    If, in fact the story is true and Katz over ruled everyone @ that table on that day, then HE SHOULD stand up and say so.
    Hell, even I knew Yak shouldn’t have been #1, I personally (not to mention others on the site plus “hockey insiders”) would have taken the kid that MON took (cannot spell his name w/o looking it – does that make you happy serious gord?), so what if he missed a good chunk of that season, he was by far a better 2-way player and could also put up big numbers, not to mention his position?
    Yak was the risky pick, but perhaps had the most upside, but one could see that he did love hockey and wanted to play in the NHL, BUT, he wasn’t a character kid, not like Murray (who many predict could be an NHL captain in the future) or Galyenchuk. Most times, if the skill level is close, I’d always pick character…
    Just my thought & opinions