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  • Another Gusher at the Draft Lottery for the Oilers


    By David Dickenson

    What should they do?

    Itís almost an embarrassment of riches these days for the Edmonton Oilers, but now the trick will be what to do with the pieces they have to ensure it translates onto the ice for next season.

    Edmonton has three future perennial all-stars on their top line already with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and a large group of young forwards and solid veterans behind them to fill out a pretty strong forward corps.


    The problem lies with the defence and goaltending of the young Oilers. They have pieces in place, but nothing concrete, and nothing that makes them a playoff team instantly at those positions. They need an influx of young talent at the back end to make sure theyíre not fighting for top spot in the lottery for a fourth consecutive year.

    While itís pretty clear that Nail Yakupov is the clear cut top prospect in this yearís class resembling that of a young Alexander Mogilny in his style of play, do the Oilers need another big time franchise forward who will be commanding big money around the same time as their other stars?

    If they drafted Yakupov and kept him, one could argue the value of the move with a top four lines looking like this:

    Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
    Magnus Paajarvi - Sam Gagner - Nail Yakupov
    Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ales Hemsky
    Ben Eager - Eric Belanger - Ryan Jones

    Thatís a pretty intimidating forward corps even if you note how Paajarvi hasnít broken through to his potential yet, and still have questions as to what type of player Gagner will be.

    Players like Anton Lander and Linus Omark with that line-up are left in the minors waiting for someone to fail just to grab one of those roster spots.

    Another option in the draft would be possibly selecting another prospect. Filip Forsberg and Mikhail Grigorenko are the closest talents to Yakupov and those three have separated themselves from the rest, but those two are also forwards which doesnít change the scenario for the Oilers.

    Ryan Murray
    and Matt Dumba their original targets in the draft had they not moved up are the top defensemen available in the draft but are too young to jump into the mix immediately for the Oilers, which is something likely needed this year to ensure a better finish. That being said, talent wise those two are still clearly behind that of the big three forwards.

    The most logical move to make otherwise would be a trade of the first overall pick or a package of young forwards to help round out their roster.

    Here are ten trade scenarios I have worked out which could be starting points for the Oilers and their trade partners if a deal was to be made on the night of the draft. Please keep in mind that this isnít just the top player in the draft going in trade, but the first overall draft pick which comes with status, promotion, hype and excitement for a fan base, which goes a long way.

    1. Washington trades goaltender Braden Holtby, defenseman Karl Alzner, the #11 and #16 draft picks to the Oilers for the first overall pick and select Nail Yakupov as another dynamic Russian to join Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Kuznetsov next season. Washington gives up a lot, but has a lot of prospect depth already and ensures they make a splash after last seasonís greatly disappointing season. Holtby would step in to compete for the top goaltender in Edmonton, something which he wouldnít have the option to do in Washington, and Karl Alzner immediately becomes their top defenseman and helps shed some contract from the Capitals. As for the two draft picks, maybe a defenseman and goaltender could be good picks, maybe Andrei Vasilevski and Cody Ceci.

    2. Anaheim agrees to allow Edmonton to negotiate a contract with Justin Schultz and if he agrees, trades Schultz and the sixth overall draft pick to the Oilers for the first overall pick, which they use to select Yakupov. Anaheim gives up a prospect who is unlikely to sign with them and a player who can step in as a power play catalyst for the Oilers, while otherwise moving up from the sixth overall pick to the top overall pick, which makes a splash in California. Yakupov gives the Ducks another impact forward which can replace Teemu Selanne if he retires and signals the start of the future for the young Ducks roster which is poised to turn the corner and be a team with which to be reckoned. With the sixth overall pick the Oilers can still grab more defensive depth with Matt Dumba or Griffin Reinhart.

    3. The Detroit Red Wings try to jump start themselves a little as they make a big splash to stay at the top of a very competitive Central Division.

    In this deal, the Red Wings give up Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar, Thomas McCollum and a future first round draft pick for the first overall pick.

    Provided they feel as though Lidstrom will be back, and either Zach Parise or Ryan Suter may not come to Hockeytown they pull the trigger to add a dynamic forward in Nail Yakupov, who immediately teams with Pavel Datsyuk to add some more fear to opposing teams again.

    While itís a lot to give up, Detroit thinks of the big picture with Jakub Kindl ready to step in full time, and others in the minors who have already paid their dues. McCollum is easy to let go, considering how crowded the crease is getting for their farm team in Grand Rapids.

    Edmonton gets a good puck moving defenseman who becomes their top blue liner, a young goaltender eager to fight for a starting job and a young scoring forward, who can jump in and help out the Oilers offensively provided someone finally gives him a chance at the NHL level.

    4. The Toronto Maple Leafs looking to make a splash, offer up the fifth overall draft pick, Luke Schenn and a young goaltender such as Mark Owuya to the Oilers for the first overall draft pick, which is used on Yakupov.

    Toronto gets to make a splash for their growingly rabid fan base, and gives them something more to mouth off about after having not a lot to be happy about in recent years. Yakupov either fits in on the Leafs top line as a dynamic forward or into the second line role to start and helps fans forget about missing the playoffs again. Toronto also manages to separate alleged locker room sparring partners Dion Phaneuf and Luke Schenn, which would go a long way to help with harmony in Leaf land.

    Schenn can go back to playing the shutdown defender role heís meant to play in Edmonton, while Owuya brings some swagger to the City of Champions as he fights for a chance to be the starting keeper in Edmonton. The fifth overall pick then helps the Oilers satisfy the need for an offensive defenseman with whichever of Ryan Murray or Matt Dumba is left.

    5. The Oilers bite the bullet and offer the first overall draft pick to the Vancouver Canucks for Cory Schneider, Alexander Edler and a future draft pick.

    Vancouver eliminates their goaltending controversy sticking with their impossible to move contract of Roberto Luongo, and gets another player to get excited about in first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov.

    The Canucks havenít had a right winger on the Sedins line to be excited about since Markus Naslund retired and Todd Bertuzzi was exiled out of town in Moore-gate. This also gives the Canucks a future replacement for the aging Sedins with star power.

    The price is steep as top scoring defender Alexander Edler comes to Edmonton and fans in the city can rejoice as they get their goaltender situation figured out with Cory Schneider taking the unquestioned leading role.

    6. The Los Angeles Kings, eager to both shed some contract and make a splash manage to put together an attractive package to rejuvenate the Kings court out in the City of Angels. Nail Yakupov becomes their poster boy, joining Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick as the teams faces of the franchise and young nucleus to keep together for years to come. Again a lot is offered, as Jonathan Bernier, Dustin Brown, Thomas Hickey and the #17 overall draft pick come the other way.

    Bernier becomes the unquestioned starter in goal for the Oilers, Brown comes off the books in LA and becomes a veteran leader to mentor they youngsters, Thomas Hickey gets away from a crowded blue line in Los Angeles to get his shot and the draft pick is just greed, or payment for sacrificing a superstar player.

    7. The Islanders look to make another splash go for the gusto and move up in the draft to grab Yakupov.

    The front office hopes Yakupov will help quell the talk of relocation and put more fans in the seats of the Nassau Coliseum, while adding another young superstar to play alongside John Tavares.

    The Isles give up the fifth overall pick, which is used on either Ryan Murray or Matt Dumba, forward Kyle Okposo, whoís been lost in the shuffle in Long Island and goaltender prospect Kevin Poulin, who has been waiting patiently for his starting job at the big squad.

    8. Given the draft is in Pittsburgh, and the recent injuries to Sidney Crosby, the Penguins decide to make a splash and finally give The Next One a superstar winger to play with, in the form of first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov. The move is a big one for the franchise which has become a little stagnant since winning their cups, and in need of some changes. Yakupov would excel playing with Crosby or Evgeni Malkin and distract some of the attention from especially Crosby, who would benefit injury wise with less physical attention on the ice. The Pens offer up Jordan Staal, the 24th overall draft pick, Simon Despres and a future draft pick.

    Staal immediately jumps into a second line centre role with Sam Gagner moving to his more naturally suited position of right wing, while Simon Despres gets his shot as a top paining blue liner who can play right away and a couple young draft picks not needed to play right away sweetens the pot.

    9. With Chuck Fletcher feeling his seat grow hotter in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, he goes for broke to acquire Nail Yakupov to play alongside his young core of Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Charlie Coyle etc. The move gives the Wild the superstar player theyíve lacked since day one, and ensures they have a young group of players who will be around together for a long time to come. Minnesota offers up the seventh overall draft pick, goaltender Matt Hackett and defenseman Jonas Brodin.

    Hackett immediately fights for the starters role for the Oilers, while Brodin becomes a top pairing blue liner desperately needed and the seventh overall pick is used on Ryan Murray or Matt Dumba if they fall, or more likely Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Reilly or Cody Ceci.

    10. The least sexy trade of all, but maybe the most realistic and most helpful for the Oilers. Edmonton trades young winger Magnus Paajarvi to the Phoenix Coyotes for young defenseman Brandon Gormley.

    The Coyotes already have a young crop of defensemen fighting for a roster spot and are devoid of young forwards for the long haul. Paajarvi can be a good acquisition for them and would likely get more ice time, not being stuck behind the likes of Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins etc.

    Edmonton gets young all-round defender Brandon Gormley who should be able to step in and play right away. Heís a good all round defender, but would have a nice feel on the top pairing and be a small move in the right direction, which allows the Oilers to pick and keep Nail Yakupov and watch what their talented core of forwards can do.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. caschmidt4's Avatar
      caschmidt4 -
      Bernier, Brown, Hickey and #17 for the #1???? I'm no Kings fan, but there's just no way. Those guys are all under affordable contracts for another couple of years I believe, so there's not much benefit to LA. How about this:

      Edmonton gets: Jonathan Blum, Anders Lindback, Brendan Smith, Detroit's #1 pick, Nashville's #2 pick
      Nashville gets: #1 overall pick, Edmonton's #5 pick
      Detroit gets: Sam Gagner, rights to Ryan Suter

      That'll never happen either, but all teams seem to win.
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