PITTSBURGH -- After months of speculation, rumors, and probably a lot of misinformation, the Edmonton Oilers selected Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft on Friday night.
Even though Yakupov was almost universally regarded as the top prospect available in the draft there was still a belief out there, even as late as a couple of hours before the draft started, that the Oilers might opt to go in a different direction. Defenseman Ryan Murray was the most popular name that had been kicked around due to the fact would have satisfied a greater immediate need.
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In the end, the Oilers did the best thing possible for a team picking at the top of the draft for a third straight year: they simply selected the best prospect.
Yakupov joins an Edmonton team that has a pretty impressive collection of young talent at the forward position that includes Jordan Eberle, and the past two No. 1 overall picks, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. By holding on to the pick and selecting Yakupov the Oilers became just the second team in NHL history to pick first three years in a row, joining the Quebec Nordiques who did it between 1989 and 1991 (Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan and Eric Lindros).
While the Oilers may have had a greater need on defense, they can't go wrong by picking yet another top offensive threat. Even with the Oilers core of young forwards they still weren't exactly an offensive juggernaut, and teams don't find themselves in a position where they're picking first overall three years in a row because they have too much of a good thing.
In 42 games this past season with Sarnia, Yakupov scored 31 goals to go with 38 assists.