It came as no surprise, at least to me, that the Oilers took Nail Yakupov as the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. While there had been some speculation that the Oilers might take defenseman Ryan Murray, which would have helped the Oilers struggling defensive core, Yakupov was the clear number one pick. Picking Yakupov also gives the Oilers a unique opportunity for their top line combination, with the ability to have a top line of three number one picks on the same line in the form of Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall on the wings and centered by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This would setup a second line combination, with the roster as it stands today, of Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, and Ales Hemsky. Now of course anything could happen in the offseason but that’s still an impressive top 6.
As much as I like Ryan Murray, as any of you who have read my previous articles know, I firmly believe the Oilers made the right choice in taking Yakupov. Offensively the Oilers are pretty much set, unless they decide to try to change up Gagner for someone with a little more size at center. Either way picking Yakupov means the Oilers will be finding other ways to retool their defense, likely through trade or free agency. The Oilers are reportedly in the running for Free Agent Justin Schultz, which could solve at least some of the issues on defense. Let’s not forget either that Oscar Klefbom is at most a year away from being NHL ready according to the Oilers. However the Oilers need results next season, assuming there isn’t a lockout, and those results have to be at least making the playoffs.
The Oilers still have yet to name a head coach; something I thought would have been done before the draft. It’s been reported that former NHL coach and TSN analyst Marc Crawford has been interviewed twice yet not considered being a serious contender while Ralph Krueger seems to be the current favorite of the media. Now having watched the Oilers under Krueger a couple of times last season I have to seriously wonder about this. The Oilers seemed unresponsive at best under Krueger while Marc Crawford has proven success in the NHL, most notably from his days in Colorado (who coincidentally are the last team as the Quebec Nordiques who drafted number one over all three straight times). Just something to think about when you are deciding who you would like to see as the next head coach of the Oilers.
Here is the list of Draft Picks from the 2012 NHL Draft for the Edmonton Oilers:
1st overall – Nail Yakupov (RW)
32nd overall – Mitch Moroz (LW)
63rd overall – Jujhar Khaira (LW)
91st overall – Daniil Zharkov (LW)
93rd overall – Erik Gustafsson (D)
123rd overall – Joey Laleggia (D)
153rd overall – John McCarron (RW)
Other notes: At the NHL awards before the draft both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle were up for awards yet neither of them won.