What if the Edmonton Oilers Didn’t Take Nail Yakupov?

Nail Yakupov is considered one of the NHL’s most notable draft busts in recent memory. The Edmonton Oilers absolutely whiffed on this first-overall decide in 2012, as Yakupov contributed subsequent to nothing on the ice, and located himself out of the league just a few years later.

But what if the Oilers had taken an opportunity on another person with that No. 1 decide? What would the workforce seem like in the present day? Where would they match on the present roster? It’s a query that has absolutely been on the minds of Oilers followers for years, and in the present day will probably be answered.

2012 Draft Talent

The 2012 NHL Entry Draft was not the strongest draft class so far as expertise goes, that includes busts like fourth-overall decide Griffin Reinhart and twelfth decide Mikhail Grigorenko. However, just a few notable prospects have since contributed at the NHL degree. Third-round decide Shayne Gostisbehere has made a reputation for himself as a former staple on the Philadelphia Flyers’ blue line, The Seventeenth-overall decide Tomas Hertl has change into a centrepiece of the San Jose Sharks’ core, and third-round decide Frederik Andersen has solidified himself as considered one of the high goaltenders in the league.

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At the time, nevertheless, none of those gamers had been in the dialog for the high decide, so choosing them first general in hindsight just isn’t lifelike. The gamers to be mentioned right here had been lifelike choices that the Oilers may have taken at the No. 1 spot. Any participant picked inside the lottery, with the exception of Andrei Vasilevskiy, will likely be thought-about, which is extra lifelike for the sake of argument.

Morgan Rielly

Morgan Rielly, chosen sixth general by the Toronto Maple Leafs, has developed right into a top-tier defenseman for the membership. It took him a few seasons to get going, but it surely’s protected to say he was price the wait. He has constantly put up stable numbers offensively, together with 72 factors in a breakout 2018-19 season, and is on the Maple Leafs’ high pairing.

Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If the Oilers had taken Rielly with the No. 1 decide, their d-corps would’ve been set for the subsequent half-decade. One downside the Oilers have confronted lately is their mediocre defensive position, constantly discovering themselves in the backside half of the league for objectives in opposition to, with the exception of the 2016-17 season the place they ranked eighth.

Rielly wouldn’t have made a lot of an impression in his first couple seasons as an Oiler, so the Oilers would have doubtless have saved the identical picks for the following three drafts, once they chosen Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid. Heading into the 2021-22 season, Rielly and Nurse would have shaped considered one of the high back-end duos in the NHL. What may’ve been?

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Vasilevskiy was taken with the nineteenth decide by the Tampa Bay Lightning, so placing him in the dialog for the first-overall choice at the time would have been a serious attain. Fast-forward to 2020, nevertheless, and Vasilevskiy is a Cup champion, after manning the crease for the Lightning this previous season. He can also be amongst the finest netminders in the NHL.

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

For the sake of argument, if the Oilers had determined to take of venture on Vasilevskiy in 2012, the revolving door of goalies would have successfully come to a halt. Oilers Nation would have been upset by the threat of choosing a goaltender No. 1, with extra interesting choices on the board, and who is aware of how he would have fared in Edmonton with the strain of his draft standing.

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Like Rielly, Vasilevskiy would have suffered rising pains at first, making minimal impression on the workforce’s document, which might have benefitted the workforce so far as the draft capital goes. But if he had changed into the goalie he’s in Tampa Bay proper now, the Oilers would have been set in internet for years to return. Vasilevskiy would’ve been precisely what the Oilers wanted to recover from the hump to change into legit Cup contenders.

Matt Dumba

Matt Dumba was taken with the seventh-overall decide by the Minnesota Wild in 2012 and developed into considered one of their high choices on protection. He has an electrical skating skill and might rush up the ice with the puck at a second’s discover. The vitality he brings to the sport alone is momentum-shifting, and was big for the Wild lately.

Matt Dumba Minnesota Wild
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If the Oilers had determined to take an opportunity on Dumba with the high decide, the public’s response would have been much like Vasilevskiy’s. It took Dumba just a few seasons to solidify himself as an NHL-caliber participant, so the media would inevitably have labelled him a bust, given his lack of success as a high draft decide to start out his profession.

In this case, the Oilers would nonetheless have landed Nurse, Draisaitl and McDavid in the draft, as Dumba supplied subsequent to zero worth in his first couple of seasons. On the present roster, he would supply a stable top-four presence on the again finish. It’s laborious to image Dumba creating in Edmonton the means he has in Minnesota, given his sluggish begin and the strain of residing as much as the hype of being a No. 1 decide looming over him.

Filip Forsberg

Filip Forsberg was taken with the eleventh decide in the 2012 Draft by the Washington Capitals and was immediately shipped off to the Nashville Predators. Forsberg burst onto the scene in 2014, placing up 63 factors in his first full NHL season with the Predators. He has hovered round the 30-goal per season mark since his breakout season and has confirmed to be a go-to choice on offense.

Filip Forsberg Nashville Predators
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

On the present Oilers roster, Forsberg would slide in properly alongside McDavid on the high line, offering a proficient winger that McDavid hasn’t but performed with except for Draisaitl. A trio that includes McDavid, Draisaitl and Forsberg would’ve spelled main bother for the remainder of the NHL and enjoying alongside a celebrity would have opened up scoring alternatives for Forsberg, as opposing defenders are drawn away from him.

The Oilers have put themselves in a tricky spot; they’re proficient sufficient to make the playoffs however lack the supporting solid to make a deep run. However, any of those gamers would have been a greater choice than Yakupov, as they every would have stuffed a present want on a roster that’s seeking to make a playoff push.

If the Oilers may redraft their high choice in 2012, Vasilevskiy can be the apparent selection, and Forsberg making a stable case as nicely. By choosing Yakupov, Oilers followers have been asking themselves the identical query: what if they’d taken another person? It’s not possible to know the place the Oilers can be in the present day if they’d gone in a unique course, but it surely’s laborious to not, at the least, marvel.

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