Another year of living in the basement for the Oilers, another year they get to reap the rewards from the NHL draft. Here we will have a look at 6 potential draftees and how they could possibly fit into the long term plans of the Edmonton Oilers.
Nail Yakupov RW Sarnia - Yakupov is an offensive dynamo cut from much of the same cloth Taylor Hall is. He can score from in tight or launch bombs from far away. There is no denying what he can bring to any club. Microwavable goal scoring. Speed and shooting are his game. The thing that sets apart Yakupov from Hall is winning. Everyone wants to win but Hall has a burning desire for it and when that isn't achieved, it pains him. Yakupov, in my mind, is a poor man's Taylor Hall. I don't know if the Oilers have the luxary of picking someone of Yakupov's ilk with so many other holes on defense and at center. Drafting Yakupov would immediately make a player like Paajarvi redundant and now the Oilers would start turning over recent draft pick making the rebuild a fallacy. The Oilers could take Yakupov, but mark my words, the Oilers will be no closer to a playoff spot next year than they were this year. This to me, is just lazy GMing. Take the best player regardless of how he fits on your team and worry about other issues later. Sometimes less is more. The Oilers' fans seem to want this pick, the Oilers smoke signals seem rather mixed on this player at this point.
Ryan Murray D Everett - Murray is a cerebral, puck moving Dman. Excellent dictator of tempo from the backend. Equally effective in all zones. Might be a bit undersized but makes up for it in guile and positioning. The Oilers might be tipping their hand in choosing Murray by inviting him to tag along with Team Canada on the WHC team. Understandable, as the Oilers head scout Stu MacGregor has Murray playing in his back yard in the WHL. Murray is a fine defender but I'm not sure if he is even the #1 defender in the draft, so taking him in the #1 slot might be a reach. The Oilers propaganda machine is in full force, trying to sway the voters away from Yakupov and more towards Murray.
Jacob Trouba D USNDTP - Trouba is my pick for the Oilers to take, at the moment. After having a strong U18 tourney on a strong US team, I don't know how the Oilers could overlook this player. While Trouba might not be as puck savvy as Murray, he makes up for it in size, physicality and lights out ability to defend. Rarely gets beat one on one. Trouba has everything the Oilers are looking for in a Dman. Strong defenisvely, can play big minutes and owns a cannon from the point on the power play. Is a strong puckmover in his own right and makes good reads on when to jump up in the play. Trouba has committed to the University of Michigan, he may be a 4 year player there, so it might be awhile before the team that drafts him, sees him. I wonder if the team that drafts him and plays him right away would be enough to change his mind, because, in my eyes, he is NHL ready now.
Mikhail Grigorenko C Quebec - Grigorenko's year has been filled with hyperbole and innuendo. Grigorenko is a magnificent offensive talent from the center postion that has come a long way in his defensive game as well. Grigorenko's year started strong but ended with a whimper as it appeared he ran out of energy to become effective. Thoughts of him being a big, lazy Russian I thought were a bit much. Word came down today that he was diagnosed with mononucleosis. I think he had issues that most new Europeans have, they succomb to the wear and tear of the schedule. The good ones usually deal with it better the 2nd time around, and I have no doubt Grigorenko will do so. Grigorenko was my choice for a good portion of the year and I still think he will be a solid pick for whoever takes him, but with the emergence of Trouba down the stretch, Grigorenko is now the 2nd best pick for the Oilers in my view. The center play on the Oilers just isn't strong enough collectively, even with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the fold. Grigorenko would help bridge that gap.
Alex Galchenyuk C Sarnia - Galchenyuk's year was very short to say the least. Suffered a torn ACL before the season started and only got into 8 games the whole season, much to mixed results. I think Galchenyuk is a fine two-way center that will become a very successful hockey player, to what degree is still up in the air. I'm not sure the Oilers are in a position to burn a first overall pick on a player that only played 8 games this season. They would be leaving a lot on the table, to be sure.
Mathew Dumba D Red Deer - Dumba's game is a lot like the current Oilers team. Lots of excitement but little in terms of wins. Dumba had 20g 37a all while his team missed the playoffs in a tough Eastern Conference in the WHL. Dumba is a strong complimentary player but not a player that I'd want to build my defense around. While his offensive game and his ability to play in offensive situations is top notch, his defensive game leaves a lot to be desired at times. If the Oilers defense was a smidge stronger than it is now, he'd be a player to look at. But since the Oilers D is very porous defensively at the moment, it would be a tough spot to insert a player like Dumba into.
All in all, whomever the Oilers decide to draft with their first pick will tell us where they are in the rebuild. If they take the winger, it means the rebuild will still have a long way to go and the roster will continue to be turned over. If they take the center, it means they are getting closer to going forward with their team, but will need a prayer to fix the backend. If they choose the defenseman, it means that they are happy with their forwards and Jebus help us all that they will be good enough going forward.