Friday, 15 June 2012
06/15/12 All Signs Point To Trade
Those people hoping for the simple and obvious course at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft may be disappointed by the Oilers. Over the last several days there's been smoke billowing on the horizon, and maybe things aren't as simple as walking up to the podium and selecting Yakupov.
As reported by James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail, Darren Dreger said his sense is that the "Oilers don't simply take Yakupov at number one. Need to add defense, perhaps by trading down."
Then Bob McKenzie said that Yakupov's "playoff [performance] concerned some scouts" and the "can't miss franchise-type player may not be so obvious this year."
On Thursday's Oilers Now, Bob Stauffer did everything he could to cast doubt on selecting Yakupov, and went so far as to say that he knew of two organizations that had Ryan Murray ranked first. If you haven't heard it, listen here.
On top of all that, Red Line Report's Draft Guide apparently states that the scouting service believes that Edmonton is open to shopping the top pick. Redline's head scout Kyle Woodlief discussed the notion with Bob Stauffer on Thursday as well.
Of course, all of this could be idle speculation if it wasn't coming from reputable, plugged-in sources. When Darren Dreger says something about the NHL, or Bob Stauffer says something about the Oilers, people listen and for good reason. Taken on their own, none of these reports necessarily mean anything. But together?
It looks like there could be something to the belief that the Oilers won't add another skilled forward with the first overall pick.
For what it's worth, Yakupov took a hellacious hit with three games to go before the playoffs and that may have had an impact on his play in the post-season. That doesn't make him a worse prospect. He'll need to learn to keep his head up in traffic and avoid the big blows, but this is something that could just as easily have happened to Taylor Hall. And, in fact, it did happen once Hall reached the NHL. The 2010 first overall pick will need to make adjustments, but so far he's still clearly the best player to come out of his draft class.
The real concern for the Oilers is the salary cap, and how many elite forwards they can fit under it while still managing to squeeze in some high-end defensemen. With the uncertainty surrounding the new CBA, the feeling may be that it's best to draft a defender in the event that the cap comes down - which it could, and substantially so.
And while that makes sense in its way, it's a poor way to manage a first overall selection unless the deal to trade it is enormous.