Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fresh Off Another Big Lottery Win

Welp, the Oilers won themselves another lottery and for the third straight year, get the pleasure and the privilege of drafting first overall. It seems that 99.8% of Oilers fans tell us that drafting Nail Yakupov would be the smart and right thing to do and if we don't, we will end being a bunch of dolts and burn in effigy. Drafting the best player isn't creative nor is it always the right move. If that was the case, then Team Canada would just take the 20 highest scorers and let them go play. There is so much more that goes into building a team than goals and points.

Let's have a look at the depth chart as it stands with the addition of Yakupov:

Belanger Hartikainen



The good news is the Yakupov has a spot that you can plug and play him in even though he is put into a power forward slot. He's a sparkplug and can play the role but doesn't have a imposing frame. He played on his off wing on the right side in Sarnia, meaning he will have to shift over to the more conventional left side, meaning he will be an up and down winger. Its either that or you put Yakupov on the RW, move Eberle to LW and have Hall play on the 2nd line where Hall will have little impact with Gagner and Hemsky. Yakupov has a lot of the same skill set Taylor Hall does, not that it is a bad thing but with so many other holes on the team, the expected improvements of the team will be severely limited.

The bigger problem lies in the rest of the team:

-The centers are littered with question marks. RNH is a first line offensive center, but now the question is how the other 3 C's lineup behind him. Horcoff is coming off a dreadful year where he got eaten alive playing the toughs. It would be a happy day of the Oilers could get out from under that contract, but since he and the owner are tight, I don't see him going anywhere, in which case he'll get the toughs again next year, at least until Anton Lander can take over that spot. Sam Gagner had some progress this year transitioning to a shooting 2-way C from a playmaking C but still has a ways to go and I wouldn't feel comfortable having him play the toughs. There isn't much upside in Eric Belanger's game to have him be much more than a part time player. A Jarret Stoll is badly needed back on this group. To help play the toughs, give Hemsky a shooter to work with, a RH shooter on the point so we don't have to waste a spot on Corey Potter. Stoll would be a swiss army knife that the Oilers so badly need.

- The wingers, in large part, lack strength. A Jordin Tootoo, an Adam Burish, a David Moss, a David Jones, would all help out here, and be an upgrade on an aging Ryan Smyth, whether he wants to be back or not. Considering the Oilers have no desire in trading, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and now Nail Yakupov, to go along with Ales Hemsky getting a new, shiny, contract extension, there is very little wiggle room for the Oilers to work with. The Oilers don't do a good enough job of burning the other team's energy quotient, which is the reason they have a heckuva time coming back in hockey games. If they had harder nosed wingers, that would make the kids' stars shine even brighter.

- The defense is a mess, we all know it. Just not enough mobility or offensive acumen from this group. To go with the fact that they don't defend that well either, makes this group rather porous. If the centers were better, they could mask this group's weaknesses a little better. While I think drafting a Dman isn't the answer to immediately solving the woes on the backend, they do need to overhaul this batch. They need to look under every rock to find a piece they need. If Taylor Fedun makes a full recovery, he could be a player that could have a big impact on this team. A healthy Fedun and a Justin Schultz signing and the Oilers could be in business back there.

- Goaltending. If there is one player I could say to go play elsewhere, its Nikolai Khabibulin. Devan Dubnyk played well enough down the stretch to deserve one of the spots. But the other spot should go to someone that is at least as good as Dubnyk if not better and then have them battle it out for goaltending supremacy. Josh Harding would be a good fit as long as the money and term are right.

So the idea of to Yakupov or not to Yakupov, is still very much up in the air for me. The Oilers would be better served in drafting a pure center. And all of this talk of putting Taylor Hall or Magnus Paajarvi at C? Shush. Thats like taking a mint porche and trading it in for a brokedown family sedan. Let those two fly off the wings. If you want a center bad enough, draft Mikhail Grigorenko.

Remember in the early '90s when every was ridculing the Nordiques for how bad they were? The Oilers have entered that territory.

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