With the first selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected from the Sarnia Sting Nail Yakupov. Those were the words that were uttered by the General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers Steve Tambellini Friday night in Pittsburgh.
The Oilers who were selecting first overall for the third year in a row, added the Russian-born winger to an Oilers team full of youth that included previous number one picks in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. Yakupov, was the third Russian to be selected first overall joining Ilya Kovalchuk (2001) and Alex Ovechkin (2004).
Yakupov was the consensus number one pick heading into the draft. He scored 31 goals and had 69 points in 42 games with the Sarnia Sting. He had similar numbers to Steven Stamkos, a former number one pick, when Stamkos played for the Sting. Yakupov believes he can make the NHL squad this season, but knows he must work hard during the summer to do so.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, who finished with the NHL’s worst record, selected defenseman Ryan Murray. There was some debate if the Oilers were going to pick Murray first overall, knowing that the Blue Jackets would not take Yakupov with the second pick. Murray had nine goals and 41 points in 46 games with the Everett Silvertips. Murray was regarded as the top defenseman in this year’s draft.
The Montreal Canadiens selected centre Alex Galchenyuk with the third pick. He was the second member of the Sting to get selected in the top three despite missing most the 2011-12 season with an ACL injury. If he can stay healthy, as his numbers show with the Sting in 2010-2011, Galchenyuk can be a dominating player and a force to be reckoned with.
The New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs both selected defenseman with their respective picks. The Islanders selected Griffin Reinhart from the Edmonton Oil Kings, while the Maple Leafs selected Morgan Reilly from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Reinhart has the potential to be an impact player right away for the Islanders. He has a very good set of skills and knows the game of hockey really well.
Reilly only appeared in 18 regular season games for the Moose Jaw Warriors due to an ACL injury. Reilly has been compared to Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner because of his vision and skills with the puck. Reilly is considered one of best passers in this year’s draft class and will probably not make the big team for a couple of years.
The biggest surprise of the draft came when Filip Forsberg was selected 11th overall by the Washington Capitals. Forsberg was projected to be selected in the top five, but dropped to number 11. Forsberg will be staying in Sweden for the upcoming season to develop his game so he has an easier time adapting to the NHL game. Forsberg is a big power winger who has the determination to score.
The Capitals took center stage early in the day as the first trade was announced. They acquired Center Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for Cody Eakin and a second round draft pick in this year’s draft. While there were other minor trades on draft weekend, the two other major trades that occurred involved the two Pennsylvania teams.
The Pittsburgh Penguins traded Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin, and 1st round draft pick. Staal prior to being traded had rejected a 10-year $60 million deal to stay with the Penguins. Jordan will now be reunited with his brother Eric and most likely will be playing on the same line.
The Penguins also traded defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix for Harrison Ruopp, Marc Cheverie, and third round draft pick. The Penguins were cleaning some cap space to go after top free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The Penguins have picked up some good players in these trades and Sutter will be a nice replacement for Staal on the third line.
The Philadelphia Flyers shipped James Van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Luke Schenn. Luke will join his brother Brayden in Philadelphia, just like Jordan will be joining his brother Eric in Carolina. Both players needed a change of scenery as they started to hit a plateau in their game. Luke Schenn has not lived up to his potential in Toronto, as he has been fighting to crack the lineup, while Van Riemsdyk has been one of the best Flyers players in past year, but if prone to injuries.
Look for the action to pick up on the free agents this week as the July 1 approaches.