Since the turn of the century, the Edmonton Oilers have drafted the following Russian players (with NHL GP):
- Alexei Mikhnov 1st rd, 2000 (2)
- Alexander Ljubimov 3rd rd, 2000
- Evgeny Muratov 9th rd, 2000
- Ivan Koltsov 4th rd, 2002
- Roman Tesliuk 4th rd, 2004
- Slava Trukhno, 4th rd, 2005
- Alexander Bumagin 6th rd, 2006
- Nail Yakupov 1st rd, 2012 (252)
- Daniil Zharkov 3rd rd, 2012
- Bogdan Yakimov 3rd rd, 2013 (1)
- Anton Slepyshev 3rd rd, 2013 (11)
- Ziyat Paigin 7th rd, 2015
I think you could make a case for Yakupov, Yakimov, Slepyshev and Paigin all potentially having NHL careers. In the case of Yakupov, he enters this fall with (basically) the same questions surrounding him as he had in 2012. Last year began well, and then a ridiculous injury cost him a chunk of the season. As luck would have it, the Oilers have another young, unproven RW who will push him—maybe as early as training camp.
Edmonton is in a bit of a spot with the Russian. It is very important for the Edmonton Oilers to get value from Nail Yakupov. His trade value is very low at this time, so the smart play is to bring him to camp, place him on a skill line, and hope he flourishes. Right?
CURRENT DEPTH CHART (LIKELY)
- Jordan Eberle
- Nail Yakupov
- Jesse Puljujarvi (R)
- Zack Kassian
- Iiro Pakarinen
Problem. The latest draft pick plays the same position, and Nail’s chaos on one line added to a rookie on another may well be too much chaos by plenty. How do the Oilers solve this problem? I talked about this issue last night, and the more I think about it, the stronger I feel this could be an ‘either or’ situation for Nail Yakupov and Jesse Puljujarvi coming out of camp. If the Edmonton Oilers sent JP down, would you be surprised? If Nail ends up on a line with Mark Letestu, would it shock you? As I said yesterday, the Oilers top 9F should be competitive this season, but badly need both Yakupov and Puljujarvi to deliver. What are the odds of this happening?
The smart play might be to send Jesse Puljujarvi to Bakersfield, allowing the Oilers to have more of a ‘complete’ feel on RW. If the Oilers ran this:
- Milan Lucic—Connor McDavid—Nail Yakupov
- Benoit Pouliot—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Jordan Eberle
- Patrick Maroon—Leon Draisaitl—Zack Kassian
- Matt Hendricks—Mark Letestu—Iiro Pakarinen
As much as we might be hesitant to consider Kassian a top 9F option, having two RWs with so much chaos in their game (I assume Puljujarvi will have chaos, perhaps unfairly, but rookies are rookies) brings challenges of its own. My RE has JP playing 15-20 games in the AHL, suspect that is the best route to take with this group.
I think Lucic—McDavid needs a shooter (ML does not shoot a large amount) and that brings other elements into view. Who are the best shooters for Edmonton? Well, let’s look at shots per 60:
Shots per game
- Jesse Puljujarvi 3.06 (49 in 16—Sm-Liiga)*
- Eberle 2.51 (173 in 69)
- Maroon 2.44 (39 in 16)
- Yakupov 2.12 (127 in 60)
- Draisaitl 1.85 (133 in 72)
- Pakarinen 1.21 (76 in 63)
- Kassian 1.17 (42 in 36)
*Puljujarvi numbers based on October 22, 2015 article by Mike Morreale, detailing 49 shots in 16 games—14:38 per night. Source
It is going to be a very interesting fall and season. Edmonton has not placed Nail Yakupov in a good spot for much of his career, but at this point he is probably not as much a priority as in the past. The new reality: Jesse Puljujarvi is the future, Nail Yakupov is attached to a failed past. I suspect this may not end well for the young Russian, and the window is small—possibly 20 AHL games for JP, or less—for him to show well enough to be part of the solution. Narrow window, but he can shoot the puck and JP is somewhat vulnerable to a strong training camp showing by Yakupov.
COLLEGE FREE AGENTS
Jimmy Vesey is a free agent today. I cannot imagine the Oilers are in on him but then again no one thought PC would be so active earlier in free agency. Edmonton signed Nick Ellis, Drake Caggiula and Patrick Russell, and Bakersfield signed Joey Benik—or as I like to call it, saving the 2014 draft. Anyone else out there?
ICYMI: The following is a list of College players who are eligible to become UFA at the end of today. pic.twitter.com/Nk71eQnXJn
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) August 15, 2016
John Gilmour is an interesting name (LHD, Calgary pick) who spiked offensively (34, 9-14-23 at Providence College) on the same team as Nick Ellis and Vincent Desharnais. Tanner Lane was an Atlanta Thrashers draft pick, incredible how quickly that team has been forgotten—the Oakland Seals never faded away like the Thrashers, not one time. Quentin Shore is 6.02, 183 and performed well (40, 13-15-28 Denver) in the NCAA last season. No idea why Ottawa couldn’t get him signed, but he is a good hockey player based on scouting reports and numbers.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show this morning as we begin to climb out of the summer heat and get ready for the hockey season. TSN1260, beginning at 10:
- Jonathan Willis, Cult of Hockey. We will discuss the depth of the forward group, and Nail v. JP.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. When is he going to release his fantasy numbers for NHL scoring???? Also, CFL, Olympics, MLB.
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. Hlinka done, Oil Kings pretty close to rolling.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Giddyup!