The Edmonton Oilers must be sick of having the top overall pick.
Okay, okay, probably not. But this year, it puts them in an interesting position. Needing to add some young, elite talent on the blue line after adding fantastic forward prospects Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers instead find themselves with the top pick and the top prospect on the board, another forward, Nail Yakupov.
Do the Oilers take a forward with the top overall pick for the third straight year? Will they ignore the top talent on the board and go with a defensemen instead? Or will they look to move the pick?
I would suggest the third option. So which teams should look to trade up and select the electrifying Yakupov?
Let's find out.
It isn't a secret that the Maple Leafs could use a young, dynamic offensive threat like Yakupov. Already possessing the fifth overall pick in the draft, one would think the cost to move up to the top slot would be high, but certainly not unreasonable.
One possibility could be moving young defensemen Luke Schenn for the pick, even if Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox recently rejected that possibility. Schenn's name was a popular one at last season's trade deadline, so I wouldn't be shocked if he was dangled for the pick.
Ultimately, the Leafs need to decide if there is a huge gap between Yakupov and the forwards that might be available to them with the fifth pick. If they see a gap in talent, they have the means and need to pull off the trade.
There are two reasons I think the Canadiens could be players for Yakupov. For one, they have the third overall pick, and flipping first-round selections with Edmonton would allow the Oilers to still select one of the top defensemen in the draft.
And then there is this paragraph from Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report (via USA Today), which I couldn't agree with more:
Don't you think new Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin would love to make a splash by dealing for Yakupov, who has the potential to become the most dynamic forward to hit Montreal since Mats Naslund? Do you think Yakupov's flair and elan would play well in Montreal? We do.
I do too. If the price isn't too steep, this seems like a logical move for both organizations.
After those two logical choices, it becomes murkier. The Buffalo Sabres (12th and 22nd picks) and Washington Capitals (11th and 16th picks) are intriguing options with multiple selections, but I doubt the Oilers want to move out of the top five unless they bring back a young defensemen in return.
The New York Islanders are likely to stay put and take the top defensemen on the board. Most of the teams in the top 10 will likely stay put rather than pay the steep price to move up the draft.
Perhaps another squad will emerge from the shadows and make a deal out of left field, but if that top pick is moved, I would imagine it will go to Toronto or Montreal.
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