by Lisa McRitchie on 06/22/12 at 07:30 PM ET
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.
Firstly, there is absolutely no doubt that Ryan Murray is a top prospect and an excellent defenceman. With an impressive World Juniors Tournament despite the team’s bronze medal win, and an even more impressive showing playing for Team Canada at the World Championship playing Murray was said to be NHL ready for next season, without question. And so it was easy to see why the Oilers would consider him with their top pick; as seemingly every team in the league, they need to add to their defence.
But it was still a shock that with only hours to go, the buzz around town has been that it is Murray. Even more interesting was Jason Gregor’s tweet concerning a conversation with Nail Yakupov’s agent “Igor Larionov just said “Edmonton doesn’t talk to me I don’t talk to them,” when we asked him to come on the show…Interesting. Seemed mad.”
This could just be more fuel for the debate, but this sounds more and more like the Oilers have been consistent about who they felt was the top player throughout the year, but maybe it just has been Murray and not Yakupov. Meaning that this talented passionate player may fall to third overall, somewhere he likely hadn’t pictured himself before now. But it explains his nerves and frustration when speaking to the media Thursday afternoon. Although it seemed that Yakupov’s frustration was due to the repeated KHL questions, it may have been the nagging knowledge and feeling that maybe the Oilers aren’t as high on him after all.
Nothing is guaranteed, nothing has been announced, but it does seem that I read Tambellini’s Thursday message wrong. At least the debate and indecision will all be answered shortly after 7pm EST.
UPDATE: To make matters even more interesting, the following tweets came out after I wrote this piece:
fFrom Dustin Nielson of the Team 1260:
Text from Murray’s agent Rick Valette re: Oilers/Murray “I haven’t talked to them for a while now. I think they have all info they need”
The only thing certain is that a player will be drafted first overall by a team.
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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.
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