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
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.