With the first overall pick of the 2012 NHL draft, the Edmonton Oilers are proud to select Nail Yakupov.
Despite the hockey media concocting rumours that the Oilers were skeptical of the Russian, it came as no surprise that the Oilers chose the best player of the draft. Unlike previous drafts, Nail Yakupov was the clear number one pick by all scouting agencies. The only question that loomed over the first pick was whether the Oilers were going to run with the best player available or commit to the need of the team.
By choosing the best player available the Oilers have created a bit of a log jam on the right wing. The team has corralled an elite talent of forwards who posses an offensive flare but unfortunately lack a physical presence that is sorrowfully missed. Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle has established himself as a world class player and will be going nowhere but the first line. The underlining question in Oilerland is who will be playing right wing on the second line?
Rumours are swirling that recently re-signed right winger Ales Hemsky is on the trade block and teams have been inquiring about the often injured forward. With the addition of Yakupov, one has to wonder where Hemsky fits in with the 29th placed team. Although a no movement clause was not enclosed in the new contract, it is believed that Kevin Lowe deigned that he would not trade Hemsky in the first year of his contract. Of course this is just speculation, but it never bodes well when a team trades a player shortly after signing a new contract.
Unlike Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers will grant Yakupov every opportunity to make the team for this upcoming season. Nail is a natural right winger but he would not be completely out of place if the Oilers were to play him on the left side behind Taylor Hall. Don't be surprised if you see Nail playing both wings during training camp, and if so who is in more jeopardy of losing their job, Hemsky or Magnus Paajarvi?
After a strong rookie campaign, the former 10th overall struggled last year splitting the year between the Oilers and the farm team. Paajarvi will be entering his third year as an Oiler and big things are expected of him. It's still too soon to determine if Magnus is the real deal or a flop, but he still has considerable trade value, perhaps more than Ales Hemsky.
With all this talk that Ales Hemsky will be moved, hockey fans and media forget the love that Lowe has for Ales. Because of his past injury problems, the Oilers would be lucky to obtain a middle pairing defenseman for Hemsky. On the other hand, a young player with lots of promise could easily be traded for a young top four defenseman with potential.
When it comes to drafting players, the best philosophy has always been in drafting the best player available! One can always acquire teams needs through trade and free agency, that's why teams have General Managers.
So is the log jam on the right or is it on the left?