The Oilers are going to get at least one very good young hockey player today. We may also get a look at what kind of impact MacT has in the room. Nail Yakupov is some kind of wonderful. Brilliant insurance against Hall injury and or Hemsky trade, all indicators have him being an offensive difference maker. Smooth skater and a defensive gem, Murray is a plug and play at a very difficult position. The concern over size might mean he’s passed over.
Kept getting better and getting bigger, to the point where his physical play, defensive play and ability to move the puck put him at or very near the top of the draft. Reading the tea leaves (and recalling quotes from Millard and Nielson), my sense is that at some level there are portions of Oiler scouting and management that values Reinhart beyond the rest of the class. They may see him as a cornerstone defender, completing the fab four with size, skill and toughness.
This is such a fascinating draft, real drama. Yesterday, a buddy of mine texted me that Tambellini told the media that the player Edmonton would choose had been consistently at or near the top of their board all year long. The funny thing is, buddy and I concluded that meant two different things. Funny what your point of view can do to a quote.
I think the defensemen are ranked close to each other, so a trade down is possible. The Russian is out there and every ranking has him at the top, so that is the best bet. All spring, we’ve heard rumors and whispers about Ryan Murray and then later Griffin Reinhart. It may come to nothing; Oilers could draft Yakupov #1 overall and we’ll never know.
I’ve been following this team for 40 years and they have some predictable patterns. If I were forced to guess, it would be Ryan Murray #1, with the clear preference being trading out and grabbing Reinhart instead.
This was close for the scouts, folks. I’d bet a lot of money on it.