Red Line Report: “We think Edmonton is open to shopping that top pick”

Jonathan Willis
June 13 2012 11:20AM

Because they interact with NHL scouts on a regular basis, Red Line Report is in a unique position to read the NHL draft-related tea leaves. They think Edmonton is open to moving this year’s first overall pick.

From Red Line’s 2012 Draft Guide:

[T]he Oilers are stacked up front on the forward lines and could really use a puck mover on the back end to trigger what should quickly become an explosive offence… The Oilers could have happily selected [Ryan] Murray, Morgan Rielly (hint, hint) or Matt Dumba second overall after Nail Yakupov came off the board. But now, how do you sell to your fan base using the first pick to take a player with significantly less upside than Yakupov? So we think Edmonotn is open to shopping that top pick – though they’re somewhat limited in that they can’t hope to move down more than 2-3 spots and still nab whichever defenseman they have targeted.

While I’m unequivocal on the idea that if the Oilers retain the first overall pick they should draft Nail Yakupov, I do have some sympathy for the notion of moving down in the draft and grabbing a player that better fits organizational need.

I don’t think it’s going to happen. Steve Tambellini has been very clear that any trade involving the first overall pick is going to need to be a no-brainer – and I don’t think any of the suggested trades (most frequently Toronto bundling Luke Schenn in with the fifth overall pick, a rumour now denied by Toronto G.M. Brian Burke) are enough to get the job done.

And while some argue that the drop from first overall to fourth or fifth overall isn’t a big one, I’d argue that doesn’t reflect the realities of this year’s draft class. As Red Line (and practically every other scouting service) notes, “Yakupov is in the top tier by himself, followed by a second tier of seven or eight guys who could be placed in any order: Forsberg, Dumba, Murray, Galchenyuk, Rielly, Teravainen and Grigorenko.” In a draft with that sort of dynamic, the drop from first to second could be bigger than the drop from second to fifth.

In short: it’s going to take an overpay. Maybe that first overall pick is dear enough to some general manager that they would be willing to move heaven and earth to land it, and if so then the Oilers might be willing to drop down and grab a Murray or a Dumba or perhaps even a Grffin Reinhart.

Otherwise, they should and probably will draft Yakupov, and look to address need down the road.

Post-script: Of interest, this morning TSN's highly connected Darren Dreger said that he doesn't believe the Oilers will retain the first overall pick.  Lowetide has a piece up on that here.

This week by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.