Nail Yakupov has resided at the top of the North American player rankings throughout this past season, and he would seem to be the most likely player to be selected first overall at this year's NHL Entry Draft as a result (via NHL.com)
Still, despite his immense skill and obvious offensive upside, the Edmonton Oilers should pass on Yakupov with the first overall draft pick.
This is no shot at Yakupov's ability or his clear standing as the "best player available." Simply put: the Oilers just don't need another player like him.
The Oilers are already loaded with young talent up front with the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Adding Yakupov's name to this list of players would seem like a dream possibility of speed and skill, but adding Yakupov to that list of names creates one serious issue for the Oilers.
That issue is size.
Each player has loads of talent, but Taylor Hall is the largest of them all at 6'1" and 190 pounds. Eberle stands 5'10" and 174 pounds, and Nugent-Hopkins is 6'0" and 171 pounds.
Bring in Yakupov at 5'10" and 189 pounds and the Oilers would have one of the smallest collections of young talent in the league.
Their skill is fantastic, and that would be all well and good if there wasn't a physical component of the game to be considered, but the simple fact of the matter is that the Oilers are already way too small up front.
This is especially true towards the top of their lineup.
This problem has been compounded with the Oilers because each of their young superstars has had to deal with injuries early on in their NHL careers.
Eberle dealt with a knee injury this past season and only played in 69 games during his rookie season the year before (via Pro Hockey Talk).
Taylor Hall dealt with a couple of injuries this year, most notably a concussion that he suffered towards the end of this last season. His several injuries and inability to get over 65 games played in either of his first two seasons even led Puck Daddy to question whether or not he is injury prone.
Ryan Nugent-Hopinks suffered a couple of shoulder injuries during his rookie campaign that kept him out of the lineup for a grand total of 20 games (via the National Post).
Yakupov also missed a good portion of his season in Sarnia with a concussion suffered on a pretty brutal elbow.
The Oilers organization knows very well that the player it takes with the first overall selection is one who will be expected to step in and make a difference right away. That's why drafting a player that fills a need on the team is something the Oilers should consider doing.
In fact, the only first-overall draft pick that didn't jump right in and assume a full-time role with his team in the last 10 years was Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury started only 20 games for the Penguins in his first year in the NHL.
The Oilers should consider one of two options with their first-overall pick.
Second, the Oilers could consider trading their top pick. Whether that means drafting Yakupov and then trading him or trading the actual pick would be up to them.
This might be the way to go as they may be able to acquire multiple players to fill multiple spots instead of just the one that they would be able to draft.
Would this be likely to happen? Probably not, but the Oilers have several options in front of them that don't involve Nail Yakupov, and they would be foolish to not at least consider them.
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