Various NHL 2012 mock drafts, from Kevin Goff's here at Bleacher Report to Adam Kimelman's at NHL.com, have the Edmonton Oilers taking Nail Yakupov with the first pick. The logic in this assumption is that when the best player is available, you take him.
That would be a mistake.
By selecting left winger Taylor Hall and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first pick in the last two drafts respectively, it seems that General manager Steve Tambellini has a plan for the future of his franchise.
Specifically, drafting offense first and then filling in the defense.
The Los Angeles Kings taught hockey during their run to the Stanley Cup this year that puck control and defense can take a team to the promised land with just enough offensive support.
The Oilers have enough offensive support already, scoring the second-most goals in the Northwest. Hall and Hopkins combined for 104 points and the Oilers just inked Lennart Petrell to an extension.
It is time to bolster that blue line and improve upon their goals against average, which was the eighth worst in hockey this past year.
Who should the Oilers draft number one?
A big, physical defenseman who can handle the puck and lead Edmonton out of the defensive zone, Murray is, according to Kimelman, a blue liner that can produce as a top defenseman for “15 years.”
It just makes sense.
As an immediate impact guy, Murray instantly makes the Oilers a better team.
Not only is Edmonton better as a team by drafting Murray, but their ability to match up in the Northwest Division improves as well.
The draft is about following a plan over the course of a few years, and if a GM is worth his weight in salt, that plan produces a winner. To say the Oilers are close would be an overstatement, but they are close to being close.
Taking another offensive-minded player in this year’s draft would be a mistake.
It is time for Edmonton to get defensive and take the young man from the Silvertips with the first-overall selection on Friday.