Two years ago I did a series of FanPosts called "Canes Country 2010 NHL Draft". In that series, I gave the readers a couple of options and they voted on who they believed should be selected by that team. We started with the #1 Pick and after a "consensus" selection was made, we moved on to the next pick. The series seemed to do pretty well and while we didn't choose the Hurricanes pick correctly, it did result in us getting an amazing player that went on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy.
So being the superstition person I am, I thought I would give this series another shot this season. Maybe this will result in another Hurricane rookie having a Calder caliber season. What I will do is give a little breakdown of each drafting team, with some of their strengths and weaknesses. I will also try to address what I believe are their needs and what they might do with their draft pick. I will give a couple of options to choose from and give a little blurb about each option. After a day or so, I will move on to the next pick and finish with the Canes pick at #8.
We obviously start off with the #1 Pick, so Edmonton is on the clock!
The Oilers are an exciting young team that has been in rebuild mode for the past couple of season. But I believe the Oiler faithful are getting a little restless with the rebuilding process and are expecting to see the team take a significant step toward Playoff contention this upcoming season. They have 3 excellent young forwards in Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle to build around along with a strong supporting cast in the forward ranks. A couple of areas that could use some improvement include their #2 center and their goaltending, but the blueline is probably their biggest need. They have some decent defensemen, but they lack quality top 4 defensemen. This is the 3rd straight year Edmonton has had the #1 Pick, so the question is whether they go for the best available player or try to draft for need? If they draft another forward, they still have the option of trading a current roster player to address their backend. Or they could select one of the top defensemen to build their blueline around. Of course, they also have the option of trading down and picking up additional assets. So you're Edmonton's GM, what do you do with the #1 Pick?
Nail Yakupov - RW
Nail is definitely considered the top player in this draft. He is a scoring machine with 80 goals & 170 points in 107 career CHL games. He has elite offensive skill and is basically a superstar in the making. Some have said that "Yakupov is the hottest thing to come out of Russia since Alex Ovechkin." When trying to find his weaknesses, you really have to be nitpicky. He isn't small, but he really isn't big either. He is built pretty solidly, especially his lower body. Nail is also not considered a very good defensive player, but his offense sure makes up for any defensive shortcomings. There is also the "Russian factor" and some consider him to be a selfish player. The bottom line though is that Nail is an amazing player that has the ability to score 50 goals in the NHL and every team would love to have a player like that. If Edmonton does select Nail, they will probably have to move one of their top 6 forwards and Ales Hemsky seems like a likely candidate. Yakupov would make them an even more exciting team to watch, but at some point they will need to address their defensive issues.
Ryan Murray - D
Murray does not have nearly the "Wow" factor that Yakupov has, but he could be the one of the safest picks in the 1st round. He is projected to be top 4, two-way defenseman and that is something the Oilers could definitely use. He is very mobile and appears to have a lot of leadership qualities. He even was selected to participate in the World Championships for Team Canada this year. I have heard some comparisons to Scott Niedermayer and even Ryan Suter. Again, while he is a tremendous all-around defenseman, he is not going to be a huge point producer or even a big-time shutdown guy. Murray is steady and will be one of those guys that you might not notice all the time, but isn't that what you want in a defenseman? He could certainly be the type of blueliner that the Oiler could build around and potentially has the characteristics to be a future captain in the league.
Alex Galchenyuk - C
Galchenyuk is an ideal center. He's got nice size, he's smart, he's skilled, and he is capable in all aspects of the game. But he also has 1 big question and that is revolving around a knee that made him almost all of the 2011/2012 season. The former OHL #1 Pick has all the talent and lineage that should make him an outstanding NHL player, but you just never know how a reconstructed knee will change a player's game. He was well over a PPG during his rookie OHL season, but he might take a little more seasoning to get back to that level. Edmonton has was appears to be a now & future #1 center, but Galchenyuk would fit well as their #2 and give them two unbelievable lines. He also has a very good work ethic, which makes me think that he will get back to form sooner rather than later. I don't think he is the likely #1 Pick, but there are always some surprises during the draft.
Another option that the Oilers have is to trade down and pick up an additional asset or assets. If they do trade the #1 Pick, I would expect that they would like to remain in the top 5. I don't see the Blue Jackets moving up because I don't think they want to draft a Russian player. I also don't believe that the Islanders would move up either, simply because they have a history of trading down and if Edmonton were to trade the 1st Overall, they would like to pick up a defenseman in return and the Isles are not exactly stocked in that department. The 2 most likely trade partners are the other 2 Canadian teams in the top 5. If the Habs were willing to trade one of their young defensemen & the #3 Pick, Edmonton would probably be willing to listen. But I can't see the Habs making this move. That leave the Leafs and you can't put anything past the Leafs. Brian Burke has got to be feeling the pressure of getting the Leafs back into the Playoffs and they do have an abundance of defensemen. So if they offered Luke Schenn, Jake Gardiner, or Cody Franson plus the #5 Pick, then Edmonton might be willing to accept. The only problem with this is that the Leafs really need a #1 center and the expected #1 Pick is not a center. They could probably trade with Columbus for less and select the player they need. So essentially, I really don't see the Oilers trading the 1st Overall Pick.