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. 


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. 

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. 

    • S cottV

      Many media types cover up their conjecture by using unnamed sources. I find it highly unlikely that anyone within in a professional organization would tip their hands to the media, pointing a finger at their boss. I don’t necessarily doubt the opinion of Bob, but I think he “knows” the validity no more than most people. If it came from the other Bob in town I would never doubt the sources. He keeps telling us how plugged in he is, so it must be so.

      With 8 hours of Oiler talk on the radio everyday they need content for the airwaves. Whether it is fan discontent with (insert player name here) or trade rumors. Their call-in shows are full of clowns with stupid trade ideas and they paint us all with that brush.

      How many players have you and I run out of town? zero. We get blamed with running (insert names here) out of town, but I have never had the pull to chase Comrie, Brewer, Arnott, etc from Edmonton.

      If I had that kind of sway old Rubber Boots would have had a can tied to his ass after bungling the Pronger trade so badly.

  • Tikkanese

    Sure Murray would have addressed an organizational need better but I’m confident that Yakupov will be by far the best of that draft class in years to come. Drafting defense and goalies for that matter 1st overall rarely works out.

      • pkam

        Cam Barker was 3rd overall in 2004, not 1st overall.

        Erik Johnson, 1st overall in 2006 will be a better example. You have to shake your head if you look at the 4 picks after him. 2nd Jordan Staal, 3rd Jonathan Toews, 4th Nicklas Backstrom, 5th Phil Kessel. I’ll take anyone of those 4 over Erik Johnson.

        Not all high draft defenseman will not work out. Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo (2nd and 4th in 2008) work out pretty good. But none of Weber, Chara, and Keith, arguably the top 3 defensemen now, are even 1st round picks.