NHL Draft 2012: 4 Teams That Could Legitimately Trade Up for the Oilers' #1 Pick
Another NHL season has passed and yet another year of the Edmonton Oilers holding on to the first overall pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft.
This is the third straight year the Oilers have received the first pick as they beat out the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had close to a 50 percent chance of getting the first pick in the lottery.
Many believe that the first player to be taken in this year's draft will be the Russian winger Nail Yakupov, clearly the best player in this year's cast of youngsters.
However, with players like Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Taylor Hall already on the roster, the Oilers may not be in the market to take on another forward.
This puts Edmonton in a pickle. Do they use the pick on the best player available in Yakupov or do they trade down in the draft and acquire a necessary piece to their arsenal?
There is reason to believe that the Oilers may be fielding offers for the pick, looking to acquire an impact player, but still being able to draft the best defenseman available.
The Oilers need a top defenseman as they lack a leader on the blue line.
There are a few teams out there that are desperate for a spark in the lineup and may be willing to do whatever it takes to bring in an exciting talent like Yakupov.
Columbus Blue Jackets
As mentioned in the previous slide, the Columbus Blue Jackets had the best chance of getting the first pick this year.
However, the Jackets continued a year of almost everything going wrong and received the second overall pick, which means they could miss out on such a talented player in Yakupov.
The big question for the Blue Jackets heading into the offseason is whether or not the team will trade away captain Rick Nash.
Nash made headlines this season when he approached the Jackets' front office about possibly trading him.
The 27-year-old knew the team was heading into a rebuilding mode and knew that trading him would bring back key assets to the team.
Without Nash, the Jackets will need an immediate replacement that can contribute almost as much as Nash did.
One of the pros of Yakupov is the fact that he is NHL-ready and could make an immediate impact for a team, like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have done for Edmonton.
If the Jackets do trade Nash, they could look to swap picks with the Oilers in able to take the top talent in this year's draft and speed up the reshaping process.
As much attention as Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets will be getting this summer, eyes will also be on the Anaheim Ducks and what they will do with winger Bobby Ryan.
Ryan's name emerged early on in the season as possibly being traded, along with Ryan Getzlaf, as the Ducks were looking for a spark in the lineup.
After months of rumors and a change of coaches, neither Ryan or Getzlaf were traded before the February deadline. The Ducks would go on to finish last in the Pacific division and 13th in the conference, good for the sixth overall pick in this year's draft.
The Ducks are currently close to the salary cap ceiling and may have to clear some space in able to stay under the cap heading into next season
If Anaheim was willing to trade Ryan, they could package him with their sixth pick to move up to draft Yakupov.
They would clear one of their biggest contracts with Ryan's $5 million annual cap hit, as well as get a talented player in return.
Like mentioned in the previous slide, Nail Yakupov is NHL-ready and could fill the void left by trading Ryan.
If this trade were to happen, the Ducks would get an impact scorer and the Oilers would still be able to take a top defenseman later in the draft.
Another team that could consider trading up is the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota got off to an impressive start this season after acquiring both Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi in the offseason. Two months into the season, the Wild sat atop the Western Conference standings.
However, as quickly as the Wild climbed to the top of the Western Conference, a second half of the season that saw injuries to several key players led to the Wild missing out on the playoffs, finishing 12th in the conference.
This is the fourth straight season that the Wild have missed out on the playoffs, which may lead many to believe that the plan in place in Minnesota is not working.
What the Wild lack is a top-tier scorer, a position that has not been filled since the departure of Marian Gaborik:
"The Wild, for all the offensive improvements that will be filtering in, do not possess a top-tier scorer anywhere in their system. When Marion Gaborik walked, the Wild lost their one game breaker. Fletcher has tried to bring in a top-tier player, but hasn't found the mark yet. Martin Havlat didn't mix well with the atmosphere in Minnesota. The Dany Heatley trade brought in an aging "sniper" who can't create offense on his own apparently. Setoguchi has shown he's not a top-line forward. Fletcher has tried to find that one dynamic shooter, but has yet to come up big."
Yakupov could be the answer for the Wild trying to return to playoff form. However, being outside of the top five will require them to give up a lot in return if they hope to take a chance on the Russian talent.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Minnesota was not the only team to fall short at the end of the season.
In January, it looked as if the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to end their playoff drought, as they were sitting pretty with two months left in the season.
However, with a 10-18-4 record in the final 32 games, the Maple Leafs once again missed out on the playoffs, having not made the postseason since before the NHL lockout in 2004.
General manager Brian Burke has found himself on the hot seat as he could be out of a job if the Leafs miss the playoffs next season.
Burke has already promised that the Leafs will make a big splash this offseason, which many believe has to do with preparing an offer for Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash.
If the Leafs cannot get Nash, Burke may look to trade up for the first overall pick to take Yakupov.
Toronto currently holds the fifth overall pick in the draft and has a surplus of defenseman that they could trade to Edmonton.
If Burke could make the deal, the Leafs could bring in a player that will get Leaf fans excited for next season.
Burke will do whatever it takes to help fans forget the disastrous end to Toronto's season this year.
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