Revisiting the Edmonton Oilers’ Dubious 2012 Draft After 11 Years

The 2023 NHL Draft is sort of right here, and chatter round who the Edmonton Oilers will choose with their first-round choice is beginning to choose up. The pre-draft hype hasn’t been fairly the similar this yr in Oil Country the place followers spent chunk of their spring swept up in one other lengthy Oilers playoff run.

It’s somewhat totally different than 11 years in the past when the 2012 NHL Draft was all anybody in Edmonton talked about for months beforehand. There had been nothing else throughout the 2011-12 season to get enthusiastic about with an Oilers workforce that completed with the NHL’s second-worst report. Once Edmonton was awarded the first general choose by winning the draft lottery, anticipation reached a brand new feverish stage.

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Spring 2012 ended up being the sixth straight season with out NHL playoff hockey in Edmonton, however there was a motive for optimism that the hunch would quickly finish. The Oilers’ lineup already included the first general choice from the earlier two drafts, Taylor Hall in 2010 and Ryan Nugent Hopkins in 2011, and so they had been about so as to add an unprecedented third straight No. 1 to the combine.

With 5 of the first 93 picks and 7 whole, Edmonton was poised for a transformative two days at the NHL Draft on June 22 and 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh. But trying again 10 years later, it’s now protected to say that the solely factor the 2012 Draft turned out to be for the Oilers was simply one other doubtful date throughout “The Decade of Darkness” (Edmonton’s 10 straight seasons lacking the playoffs from 2007 to 2016).

Related: Revisiting the Edmonton Oilers’ Disastrous 1990 Draft

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By the numbers, Edmonton’s efficiency at the 1990 Draft is the worst of all time. On that day, the Oilers made 11 picks, not one among whom ever skated a single shift in the NHL. That’s a report nonetheless untouched, as no different NHL workforce has had as many picks in a single draft with out no less than one reaching the NHL.


However, in 1990, the Oilers had simply come off successful their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years, and their very own choose in the 1990 Draft got here in the direction of the finish of every spherical. Considering what was at stake in 2012, and Edmonton’s excessive choose positioning, that yr’s draft ranks as one among the greatest failures in franchise historical past, and it began proper from the prime.

First Round: Nail Yakupov

Edmonton common supervisor Steve Tambellini kicked off the 2012 Draft by saying that with the first general choose, the Oilers had been taking Nail Yakupov, a ahead from the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Sarnia Sting. On the TSN broadcast, Pierre Maguire raised a crimson flag over Yakupov being held with no aim with Team Russia at the 2012 World Juniors. The commentator’s concern proved well-founded.

world championship roster
Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Yakupov truly received off to a robust begin in Edmonton, although, as he performed all 48 video games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 marketing campaign, main NHL rookies with 17 targets and tying Jonathan Huberdeau for the rookie factors lead, with 31. Incredibly, that season as a 19-year-old was the peak of success for Yakupov, who in 5 extra NHL seasons scored at a fee of simply over 12 targets per 82 video games.

Just previous to the 2016-17 marketing campaign, Edmonton dealt Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues, who subsequently opted to not re-sign the Russian at season’s finish. He then joined the Colorado Avalanche for 2017-18 on a one-year deal that turned out to be his closing NHL contract. He left the NHL after totalling 62 targets and 136 factors in 350 video games over six seasons and has been in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) ever since.  

In a latest THW article, Yakupov was rated as the sixth-worst No. 1 draft choose of all time. The information concur: He has performed the fewest NHL video games of any skater drafted first general between 1982 and 2017, and of all gamers drafted first general between 1992 and 2018, he’s performed the third-fewest video games with the workforce that drafted him. The participant that so many thought would lead Edmonton again into the postseason, he by no means appeared in an NHL playoff recreation.

Second Round: Mitch Moroz

For their first choose on Day 2 of the 2012 Draft, the Oilers went means off the board to pick out winger Mitch Moroz of the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings.

There was quite a bit to admire about Moroz, who later proved instrumental in the Oil Kings successful the 2014 Memorial Cup. With his blue-collar type of play, management by instance, and most of all, fearlessness to go to the entrance of the internet the place he scored the ugliest of targets, he reminded followers of beloved Oilers nice Ryan Smyth.

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But Smyth spent practically twenty years in the NHL, whereas Moroz didn’t play a single NHL recreation. He ended up spending three seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL), ultimately having his rights dealt to the Arizona Coyotes, who didn’t prolong a qualifying supply to the 6-foot-3 ahead when his entry-level contract expired after the 2016-17 season.

Moroz performed three extra years of professional hockey in the ECHL, earlier than retiring. He mentioned his resolution to step away from hockey, detailing struggles with psychological well being and bodily accidents, in a poignant appearance on the Hockey 2 Hell And Back podcast final yr.

Third Round: Jujhar Khaira and Daniil Zharkov

With the 63rd choose, Edmonton took Jujhar Khaira, who was coming off his second season of Junior A with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Prince George Spruce Kings. Of the Oilers’ 2012 Draft class, the 6-foot-4 ahead performed the most video games for Edmonton and is one among solely two that had been in the NHL this season.

Jujhar Khaira Chicago Blackhawks
Jujhar Khaira, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Khaira made his NHL debut in 2015-16 and have become a daily in Edmonton’s lineup two years later. He appeared in 258 video games over elements of six seasons with the Oilers, scoring 24 targets and including 39 assists. Following the 2020-21 marketing campaign, he signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks however missed most of 2021-22 due to damage.

Edmonton had a second choose in the third spherical, at 91st general, and used it to seize Daniil Zharkov of the OHL’s Belleville Bulls. The left winger by no means signed with the Oilers and ended up returning to Russia for a stint in the KHL. He final performed in 2016-17.

Fourth Round: Erik Gustaffson

Befitting of their 2012 Draft exhibiting, the Oilers brilliantly unearthed a hidden gem once they chosen Erik Gustaffson at No. 93, however then bafflingly didn’t signal the Swedish defenceman, who continued to play in his residence nation after being picked by Edmonton. When his Oilers rights expired in 2015, Gustaffson signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, and the relaxation, as they are saying, is historical past.

He’s now performed elements of six seasons in the NHL, totalling 191 factors in 379 video games. In 2018-19, Gustaffson had 17 targets and 60 factors, to rank third and sixth, respectively, amongst NHL blueliners. In 2021, he went to the Stanley Cup Final with the Montreal Canadiens. He’s now again with the Blackhawks.

Fifth Round: Joey Laleggia

At choose No. 123, the Oilers chosen Joey Laleggia, a defenceman from the University of Denver. He put up some huge offensive numbers in the AHL, together with scoring 20 targets for the Bakersfield Condors in 2016-17, however by no means received right into a recreation with the mother or father membership. After his Oilers contract expired, he signed with the Blues in 2018 and performed two extra seasons in the AHL. He’s since spent the final two years in Sweden.

Sixth Round: John McCarron

Edmonton’s closing choice, 153rd general, of 2012 was Cornell University ahead John McCarron. The Michigan native by no means signed with the Oilers and has spent most of his professional profession in the ECHL, the place he simply wrapped up a sixth season with the Florida Everblades.

What Could Have Been

Hindsight is 20-20, after all, however there are a selection of gamers the Oilers may have chosen in 2012 who’ve gone on to change into all-stars, most notably goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (chosen 19th general by the Tampa Bay Lightning), who already seems to be properly on his technique to the Hall-of-Fame. Others handed over by Edmonton embrace Morgan Rielly (5th, Toronto Maple Leafs), Filip Forsberg (11th, Washington Capitals), Tomas Hertl (17th, San Jose Sharks), Frederik Andersen (87th, Anaheim Ducks), Jaccob Slavin (120th, Carolina Hurricanes), and Connor Hellebuyck (130th, Winnipeg Jets) to select just some names from a listing that Oilers followers would most likely slightly not see.

Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

How dangerous did the 2012 Draft find yourself being for the Oilers? They took another person’s large mistake and made it their very own, trading picks 16 and 33 in 2015 to the New York Islanders to accumulate the 2012 fourth general draft choose, Griffin Reinhart, in an all-time notorious commerce. He has performed solely 37 profession video games in the NHL and suited up for simply 29 with the Oilers earlier than the Vegas Golden Knights chosen him in the 2017 Expansion Draft. He spent final season in the United Kingdom with the Belfast Giants of the Elite Ice Hockey League.

A decade later, the mixed NHL stats of Edmonton’s 2012 draft class are 944 video games performed (511 with the Oilers), 121 targets (74), and 359 factors (174). What’s most damning is the undeniable fact that none of the gamers had been nonetheless in Edmonton final season taking part in a job in the workforce’s breakthrough after years upon years of making an attempt to get again into the championship contender combine.

When the 10th anniversary of this yr’s draft rolls round in 2032, Oil Country hopes to look again upon it far more fondly.

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