The Oilers now sit in the fortunate position of selecting the #1 pick yet once again in this year's 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The question this year? Should we take a defencemen because it is our biggest need? Did we not just go through this whole conversation last year at this time? Was not the big question last year, if we should take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larson?
The conversation became so large that, bloggers and MSM were breaking down the validity of drafting a defencemen #1 overall. People were saying RNH was at least another year away and Larson could play NHL immediately. The stats guru's were going on about how RNH was not producing enough 5on5 and how he was still too small to play in the NHL.
What I find very interesting is RNH too many was considered too small. Why? Cause at season end he was maybe 165lbs. By training camp he was sitting at 174 and some still doubted his size. He is 6'1 and coming into camp and the complaints were there about his size. So his height was fine but his weight was too light? What size should he be, was my curious question to those in doubt. 190+lbs is the argument I heard.
Enter, 2012, Nail Yakupov. The question I hear yet once again is...'he is too small'. Too small? How's that? He is 5'11 and 190lbs when the season started. He is the 190 that everyone wanted RNH to be but now because he is 5'11, he is too small? Can't have it both ways. Very few STAR players are at least 6'1 and 200+lbs. Usually those players are drafted in later rounds and molded. The hope is, players like Hartikainen will fill those molds.
Back to the original question. Draft a potential 1-3 defencemen or a potential 40+Goal scorer? % of success is with the forward and not the defencemen. Why change course this year? People say we have 2 RW's already in Eberle and Hemsky. Do we really? People now are believing in Hemsky for next year? Sorry folks, as much as I like Hemsky, I believe his style of play is exactly what the Oilers do not need. This team is being molded different then in year's past. We have 3 top players, that's all! Everything else is a maybe or hopeful. I am glad we signed Hemsky. Why? Because it gives us a asset. It's another player we can trade.
Some are saying that Yakupov could bolt to the KHL. True, but the Oilers could also finish in 30th place again next year as well. Nothing is guaranteed. But let's look at some strong facts and reasoning before we start anointing Murray as our best pick at #1.
1.Yakupov came to Canada to play in the CHL at 16 years old. He said he wanted to adapt early and play in the best jr development league in the world, so he would be the most ready to go straight to the NHL. This should be a strong sign, that the KHL is not his goal or a temptation.
2. Yakupov's agent is Igor Larionov. Igor represents what is great about Russian hockey players. He is their greatest ambassador IMO.
3. Mark Glavin, Sarnia Sting Assistant GM raves about his work ethic and dream to play in the NHL and his dynamic abilities on the ice. This is the same guy who saw Stamkos grow up on his team as well and go on to carve a awesome career to date in Tampa Bay.
4.Yakupov strives to be the best, not only does he want to be the best, he works hard on being the best. Don't read too much into his cocky attitude as speaking his thoughts and feelings into english, things can be misunderstood quite easily.
5. Should the Oilers feel Yakupov is not the right fit, they can always trade that asset.
Yes, Murray would have been a very good pick at #2, but with #1 pick locked up, to pick anyone other then Yakupov would open this team up to scrutiny beyond imagination. I can't see a team being able to give the oilers a 1st round pick and top 2 d-man for that 1st overall , cause no one wants to give up that good of a proven defencemen.
As has been mentioned by the Oilers, this is a rebuild. Adding one more potential superstar player to the forward mix can be nothing but good. They are not looking at a quick fix and I see no reason why they will buck their trend. Could a trade happen? Absolutely! But the % is low someone will step up and offer something incredible on a potential.
I think instead of lines, we should be looking at pairs to play together. In whatever combination you want but to have 2 top lines with a pair that excels and you move different guys in and out on those pairings. Both Hall and Yakupov play a hard, fast, in your face style of play. To me, they need to be split up, to best utilize the shutdown tandems that play against them. To have say Hall with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins with Yakupov could be a deadly combo. Any way you look at it, it will be a interesting couple months leading up to the draft.
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