“It’s hard to pass up on offensive players” were the parting words that Oilers’ head of amateur scouting Stu MacGregor left me with. It seems he was sure that the Oilers would take Nail Yakupov the whole time as well. But I do admit that I wavered. A little. But not until the very end. The trouble is that GM Steve Tambellini holds his cards so incredibly close to his chest, it makes it difficult to be certain. You read between the lines a little too much, you search for answers in other places, and sometimes they’re not always right. What seems to be right, at this point in time is that the Oilers walked away from the first round with the best player available at this year’s NHL entry draft.
He’s not the most quotable player, but Nail Yakupov is certainly, without a doubt, the top player at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Right up until the moment the Edmonton Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini stepped up to the podium the speculation remained. The Oilers need help on defence, but Yakupov seemed too good to pass up on. And it turns out he was.
Taylor or Tyler, RNH or Larsson, Yakupov or Murray? The debate is familiar, but this year it takes on a far different feel. Throughout the season, Nail Yakupov the Russian Winger playing for the Sarnia Sting was the consensus top pick between the scouting lists, and so when the Oilers won the draft, he easily became the focus of conversation. Afterall, why would the Oilers jump from 2 to 1 and take anything but the best player available? It seems that the Oilers have a different idea of who the best player available is. Maybe.
One day before he steps up to the draft podium to make his announcement, Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini is mum on what that decision is. But by looking at the past two drafts and by really listening to what Tambellini has to say, you can make a decision for yourself. For me, in a crowded hotel lobby in downtown Pittsburgh, Tambellini was saying the ‘pick is Yakupov, but I can’t just tell you that.’
It was close, but neither Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle walked away from the annual NHL awards show in Las Vegas with an award. Both players placed second in voting for their respective awards; the Calder Trophy and the Lady Byng.What might be considered shocking is that 2 voters placed Nugent-Hopkins as 5th best, and 12 as 4th rookie of the year (as per Dan Tencer). Of course both players are happy just to be nominated, but surely it won’t be too long before players like Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins are awarded something.
In only a matter of days, it seems that the perceived Oiler pick has changed, once again. While the popular opinion had been that the Oilers were looking at taking winger Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick, that soon changed to defenceman Ryan Murray. But now, there are articles and discussions out there that the Oilers are actually coveting Oil King defenceman Griffin Reinhart as the top defenceman at this year’s draft.
It is interesting that Yakupov is the consensus top forward, and yet there is no consensus on the top defenceman and yet it is being speculated that the Oilers may take a defenceman. And when it comes to the coach, it looks like that announcement won’t happen until after the draft.
We’ve know it was coming, but we didn’t know it would take this long. Steve Tambellini made the trip to Sweden seemingly to sign Oscar Klefbom nearly two months ago, but it wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon that the deal was made official. Drafted 19th overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft Oscar Klefbom is now signed to a three year entry level contract with the Oilers and will count against next season’s (if it happens) list of 50 professional contracts.
But don’t get too excited yet Oil Country, Klefbom has another year on his contract with Färjestad of the Swedish Elite League and has always said that he intends to play out his contract.
Who says you can’t go home? Amidst stories that Georges Laraque would like to return to the NHL was the story that Craig MacTavish might be returning to the Oilers.
As the story grew, it was reported by the Vancouver Canucks that MacT was leaving his coaching position with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate team the Chicago Wolves to pursue other opportunities. With that release speculation grew that MacT was taking a management position with the Oilers. And now we have an official press release from the Oilers saying that Craig MacTavish is the new Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations. There will be more information later this afternoon at a press address.
General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have added Craig MacTavish to the club’s Hockey Operations Management team as Senior Vice-President, Hockey Operations.
MacTavish, 53, was the Head Coach of the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League this past season, where he led the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate to a 42-27-7 record, third best in the conference.
Named the eighth coach in Oilers history on June 22, 2000, MacTavish compiled a career record of 301-252-103 (.537) in 656 regular season games over the course of eight seasons (2000-01 to 2008-09).
MacTavish became the 36th coach in NHL history to win 300-or-more games with a 5-3 win versus the Vancouver Canucks on April 4th at Rexall Place.
He completed his coaching tenure behind the Oilers bench after the 2008-09 season, ranking second among Edmonton coaches in games coached, wins, losses, ties/overtime losses and winning percentage and ranked 36th all-time in NHL history in wins and 41st in games coached.
The former Oilers’ captain has a 17-13 (.567) record in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and became the third coach to lead the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final.
In 2005-06 MacTavish guided the Oilers to their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1990, as Edmonton fell in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes. After finishing the regular season in 8th place in the NHL’s Western Conference standings with a 41-28-13 record, MacTavish led the Oilers to within a game of their sixth Stanley Cup. In the post-season the Oilers went 15-9 and defeated the President Trophy winning Detroit Red Wings, the San Jose Sharks and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on their way to winning the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl as Western Conference champions.
After departing the Oilers organization following the 2008-09 season, MacTavish earned a master’s degree in business from Queen’s University and spent two years as an analyst for the NHL on TSN.
Hockey and Nashville doesn’t exactly have the same ring as peanut butter and jelly, but just the same, it seems to be working. After the starting years, the reports of poor ticket sales and rumours of the team being moved, Nashville has had its most successful ticket sales and attendance rates ever and in fact sold out a record 25 games this season. Surprisingly Nashville surpassed teams such as New Jersey, Colorado and Dallas with its 97.5% attendance crowds for the season as a whole. While this may give hope to some for Phoenix, Nashville is a different city.
Attendance and the remarkable popularity transformation are only a small piece of Nashville’s story though. And so after years of trying to make it to Nashville for a game, that’s just what I did in March of 2012. I crossed Nashville off of my list of NHL arenas making it #15 but following no particular rhyme, reason or order save for perhaps the time of year and the NHL schedule itself. But it may just be a city I travel to again.
Third in the string of promising prospects to visit the Edmonton Oilers and the city itself was Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray. Murray’s stocks have steadily risen throughout the season and may have been given their biggest boost when he was invited to play for team Canada at the Worlds. This was a great source of rumour when it came to the draft and the Oilers because of course Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Devan Dubnyk were also on the team. Oilers’ president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe was also the team’s GM and add to that the rumours that coach Brent Sutter may just be the Oilers’ next head coach and what you have is a story with legs; Murray is definitely on the radar for the first overall draft pick.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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