The Firsts


The Edmonton Oilers have been derided in many quarters for having had the chance to draft the 1st overall pick  3 years in a row and then produce no tangible results in the standings.

As you may know, I believe the Oilers drafted the wrong player in the first round all the way back to the Sam Gagner Wellwood draft in 2007 with the exception of taking Jordan Eberle in 2008.

It would seem my assessment of the Gagner draft has been vindicated now that he’s playing on the 3rd line in Arizona and Jakub Voracek has outscored him in 30 fewer games.

But the real focus of this piece is the 2009 – 2012 drafts where we’re reaching a point that sone indications of success or failure start to show up.

I was speaking to an acquaintance today about the status of 2009 10th overall pick Magnus Paajarvi in St. Louis.

Paajarvi has yet to play for the Blues this season and I was told he will only ever see 4th line minutes if he does get into a game. The friend also told me the Blues don’t want to lose him on waivers but are trying to get a 3rd or 4th round pick for him.

Dmitri Kulikov would look pretty good for the Oilers about now wouldn’t he?

No need to rehash the 2010 draft since the Taylor/Tyler debate is worn and tattered but I would imagine the Oilers would be much further ahead in rebuild V 4.0 if they had selected one of the best 2 way centres in the league instead of a flashy winger even one as good as Taylor Hall.

Had the Oilers drafted Seguin instead of Hall, I imagine they might have then selected Gabriel Landeskog 1st overall in the 2011 draft….and that would have been the right thing to do.

Landeskog is a big, heavy winger who takes on the toughest competition and comes out ahead (career +34) while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is trending as a 2nd line centre and PP specialist.

Which brings us to Nail Yakupov.

TSN’s Dave Hodge has ignited a firestorm among Oiler fans when he penned this critique of the Oilers’ draft record.

My thumb is down to the Edmonton Oilers’ decision to select Nail Yakupov with the first pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. I know you’ve heard that before, the Oilers are sick of hearing it and Yakupov is burdened by it. Unfortunately for Yakupov, the criticism will continue until he gets a fresh start somewhere else and the Oilers address their pressing need for blue line help. The Oilers could have solved some of their defensive woes if they had used that 2012 pick to select Ryan Murray, Jacob Trouba, Olli Maatta, Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm….the list goes on. In a strong class for defenceman, after years of using top-ten picks on forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner, it was time to take a blueliner. Instead, the Oilers took the only forward since Patrick Stefan in 1999 that did not warrant the No. 1 honour. It’s not that you can’t go wrong with the first pick, it’s that you can’t afford to.

Yakupov is likely the most disappointing 1st overall pick since Patrik Stefan in 1999 (give or take the NYI losing their marbles in picking DiPietro in 2010).

These are the other forwards drafted 1st overall in the 10 years preceding the Yakupov pick:

2002 – Rick Nash

2004 – Alex Ovechkin

2005 – Sidney Crosby

2007 – Patrick Kane

2008 – Steven Stamkos

2009 – John Tavares

2010 – Taylor Hall

2011 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

2012 – Nail Yakupov

Yakupov is now in his 3rd NHL season and, although the his lockout shortened rookie season skies observations somewhat, we still should be able to suss out what Yakupov should be producing based a rough average of what the other 1st overall picks produced in their 3rd seasons.

Remember that a forward taken 1st overall is normally drafted at that lofty position because they can score and score a lot.

Nash – 54 GP 31G 23A 54P

Ovechkin – 82 GP 65G 47A 112P

Crosby – 53GP 24G 28A 72P

Kane – 80GP 30G 58A 88P

Stamkos – 82GP 45G 46A 91P

Tavares – 82GP 31G 50A 81P

Hall – 45GP 16G 34A 50P

RNH – 80GP 19G 37A 56P

Now, let’s rank them by their PPG

Ovechkin – 1.36

Crosby – 1.36

Hall – 1.11

Kane – 1.10

Stamkos 1.10

Nash – 1.00

Tavares – .987

RNH – .700

Even with RNH acting as a huge drag on the average point production, I think it’s fair to expect a 1st overall pick to produce near 1 PPG in his 3rd season. 

Of course injury could impact a player’s performance as it likely did with Crosby’s third season but, as far as we know, Yakupov is healthy and should be expected to begin producing at an elite level.

As of this morning, Yakupov has 1G and 1A in 5GP (-6) so, if he’s going to live up to his draft pedigree he’d better get going soon.

The Oiler diehards have come out in defense of the Yakupov pick in the wake of Hodge’s critique basically saying “he was the consensus overall pick! so the Oilers drafting him can’t be criticized”.

That is, of course, patent nonsense.

Consensus is often spectacularly wrong as we can see in this article about 364 British economists. 

Now, it’s far too early to label Yakupov a bust and it’s certainly too early to even know if he can become an elite forward in the NHL but anyone who isn’t concerned by his performance to date is just whistling past the graveyard.

In the meantime, those of us who wanted the Oilers to take Galchenyuk can console ourselves with his his early season PPG scoring pace.








6 thoughts on “The Firsts

  1. Hello,
    A couple of thoughts from me. I often talk about Seguin, Landeskog, Galchenyuk, Nichushkin instead of Hall, RNH, Yakupov, Nurse. However:

    1) RNH vs. Landeskog is actually hindsight trading. The debate was RNH vs. Larsson. Landeskog was not expected to go 2nd overall. Larsson “fell” to 4th, if you recall. The Avs made a great pick, and it’s weird they’ve fired Pracey, but it’s not fair to say the Oilers would have picked Landeskog; I don’t think they would have. RNH vs. Larsson so far looks better for the Oilers so I have to disagree with you on this one.

    2) On Yakupov: I, too was in the Galchenyuk camp, but I understand the risks of taking a player who missed an entire season to injury 1st overall. The debate was more clearly focused on Yakupov vs. Murray, and Bob McKenzie did have 8 out of 10 scouts taking Yakupov. The Oilers may have made the wrong pick, but they did take the consensus “safe” 1st overall pick, considered by many to be BPA. Hodge’s assertion is also hindsight judging. He wasn’t piping up at the time saying the Oilers should take someone else. Murray, while he has looked good, has suffered two significant injuries so far. As it turns out, Trouba may wind up being the player that should have gone first overall. In general, that draft looks fairly weak at this time. I don’t know where the blame should go on this one: drafting or development, but I lean towards the latter with respect to Yakupov. He clearly has tools, he doesn’t have the proper coaching.

    3) Hall vs. Seguin to me is a wash. I think both players thrive in offensive roles. Seguin may be the better goal scorer, but Hall is no slouch. It’s only since last year that Seguin has played as the pivot and produced, so let’s see where things go from here. I, too, was in the Tyler camp on draft day, by the way. Still, it took Seguin’s arrival in Dallas for him to maximize his potential, and after learning from Bergeron and now playing with the best all-around LW in the game in Benn. I think had Hall gotten to start his career in Boston, people wouldn’t be talking about his defensive deficiencies either. Agree or disagree?

    Lastly, I was in the Voracek camp as well, but for the first few years, the Gagner camp was the clear winner. I thought I was dead wrong while Oilers’ management got it right. The tables have turned now, but that just goes to show you need to give any draft some time to judge it down the line. Couture would have been a nice selection as well (or Subban and so on and so forth).

    Have a good day.


  2. In discussing the 1st overalls, I am speaking generally about who I would have taken…not who the Oilers were thinking of taking. But, had the Oilers drafted Seguin instead of Hall, I think there’s a good chance they would have looked more closely at Landeskog.

    Impossible to know though.

    As for Yakupov, I agree he has many of the tools to be successful but I’m not sure he has the toolbox.

    Given his draft pedigree and that this is his third year, he should be producing at a high level. I’m not sure you can put that down to development in that had he had the required skill level his development likely wouldn’t have included healthy scratches and still needing to be sheltered at this point in his career.

    While I think Hall is a fine young player, Seguin is already an elite two way player who has defensive chops that Hall just doesn’t and, the fact that he also plays a more difficult position, makes him a hands down winner in my mind.

    Things could change in the future of course but, as of now, it’s pretty tough to call it a wash IMO.


    1. I agree Seguin is an elite scorer, but on what metric are you basing your elite 2-way play on? I see him as elite scorer, adequate defender. I wouldn’t put him in the elite defending category in the way a Toews or Bergeron is, and thus it’s hard to call him an “elite two-way” player at this point. I agree centre is the harder position, but he only started playing that more often in Dallas. So the way I see it is last year, Seguin caught up to Hall. This year he may pass him, and probably will, but I think that’s projecting what he could be and is not necessarily fair to Hall.


  3. GF/GA/60 5V5 Diff

    Last season Seguin ranked 20th in the league among forwards who played 70 games at +1.07

    For comparison’s sake, Nugent-Hopkins was -0.54. Hall was -0.36

    Toews was +1.25 while Bergeron was +1.87

    Remember Seguin is only 22 years of age and is not backed up by the defense of Chicago or Boston.

    He is pretty much the definition of an elite outscoring centre and will only get better.

    It’s no accident that Seguin is +72 (I KNOW) while Hall is -21.

    Plus/minus is a flawed stat but that is a HUGE difference.

    Seguin blew by Hall last season and continues to do so.


    1. Thanks for the link. I wonder how much of that comes from playing with Benn? Crosby and Toews, I believe, said he is the best player in the league they play against? Note: I’m not arguing your point here, just curious.


      1. Pretty tough to suss that out but you’ll notice in the BTN rundown that Benn has a GAON/60 of 2.63 while Seguin is better at 2.49.

        While the difference is small, it appears that Seguin is actually the better defensive player, at least by that metric.

        As Seguin improves his offence (recall he’s only 22) that gap may widen although I can’t imagine Ruff would ever split them up.

        Then again, Benn is only 25 himself so god only knows how good that pairing can be for the next half decade.


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