Without any doubt in my mind – or the minds of our scouting staff for that matter – Nail Yakupov is the top prospect in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. That doesn’t mean he’s going first overall, though.
When the Edmonton Oilers won the draft lottery, every mock draft was turned on its side. Rich in talent up front, the Oilers would benefit greater from selecting a defenseman t compliment the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, among others. One would even go so far as to expect Edmonton to take one of the draft’s elite blueliners. That would mean one of Ryan Murray, Mathew Dumba, Jacob Trouba or even Morgan Rielly would’ve been taken second overall.
Edmonton has a difficult decision on their hands. Do they stick to their original perceived plan and select a defenseman?
It’s definitely a possibility, especially when it comes to Murray. The Everett Silvertips defenseman has been watched closely by the Oilers this season, and Kevin Lowe, the president of hockey operations for Edmonton, added the 18-year-old to Canada’s entry at the World Championship. Murray has represented Canada well at the event despite remaining pointless, further clouding what could happen with the top pick of the draft.
But when drafting first overall, it’s near impossible to not select the best player available – and that’s Yakupov. Whether the Oilers philosophy at the draft table will be to select the best or draft for need will not be seen until June 22nd.
That is, if they hold onto the pick altogether.