Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the favorite to be selected first overall in the upcoming NHL Draft, is garnering comparisons to Pavel Datsyuk and Joe Sakic. He has amazing playmaking skills with dangling abilities and a great shot similar to Joe Sakic’s. If the Oilers draft him he will most likely end up being a star, setting up Taylor Hall for years with his top notch offensive skills.
However, there is not that much of a drop in skill between Nugent-Hopkins and the top ranked prospects such as Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs and Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson.
Edmonton needs a first line center who can score: not since Doug Weight wore his tucked-in number 39 and put up 90 points in 2000-01 have the Oilers had a true first line center. And with the top prospect in the Oilers organization at the moment, six foot four Slovakian defenseman Martin Marincin, they can pass on Adam Larsson. Larsson could become one of the best defensemen in the NHL one day. But it’s worth noting that all three of the Norris Trophy candidates for the 2010-11 season were not drafted in the first round, including captain of the 2011 Cup winning Bruins, Zdeno Chara, who was drafted 56th overall by the New York Islanders in 1996.
Here are 4 possible alternative scenarios other than drafting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first pick (which will most likely not happen.)
1. Could the Oilers and Penguins ever do a trade involving Evengi Malkin and the first pick? The Penguins have the league’s second highest payroll with only 3 million in cap space. Would they possibly consider dealing Malkin to get Adam Larsson or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers can throw in Andrew Cogliano, who has the skill set to excel on the second line of a good team and if you move him to wing, who knows, he could score 50 with Sidney Crosby. Or they could trade Sam Gagner instead who would also excel playing with Crosby. If the Penguins were to add in top prospect, 6-4 defenseman Simon Depres, who won the Memorial Cup with the Saint John’s Sea Dogs, the deal might be too good for the Oilers simply not to think about it or would the Penguins simply not be interested. If that deal doesn’t potentially bait the Penguins, would adding in a young winger such as Curtis Hamilton or Linus Omark do the trick? The Penguins could add in a wily veteran such as Craig Adams, who won the Cup with Carolina in 2006. Evgeni Malkin has already won the Art Ross Trophy, the Stanley Cup, and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Playoff’s MVP and he is only 24 years old. He only scored 37 points in 43 games in 2010-11 due to injury, so Malkin’s value is probably the lowest it will ever be. If I was Steve Tambellini, I’d do everything in my power to aquire Malkin, he has always been second fiddle to Crosby in Pittsburgh. Here in Edmonton he would be the face of the franchise.
2. Dale Tallon certainly has made a lot of trades since Florida hired him as their GM. And he would probably love to have Nugent-Hopkins in a Panthers uniform. Nugent-Hopkins would bring the most star power to the Panthers since Pavel Bure won the Rocket Richard Trophy in back-to-back years. Perhaps he would help turn them into a Cup threat like when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996. If the Oilers swapped their first overall pick for Florida’s 3rd overall pick, could they receive a couple of highly regarded prospects for swapping with the Panthers. Prospects such as center Nick Bjugstad and defenseman Colby Robak. Bjugstad was drafted 19th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry draft and is 6 foot 4. Robak has a good combination of size and skill and figures to be a solid second pairings defenseman in the NHL. Or The Oilers could possibly try for defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, the 14th overall pick in the 2009 Draft, instead of Robak. With the third pick the Oilers would receive, they’d obviously draft Huberdeau. So to recap the not likely trade: To Florida- 1st overall pick To Oilers- 3rd overall pick, Nick Bjugstad, and either Dmitry Kulikov or Colby Robak
3. Would the Bruins ever consider doing a deal with the Oilers giving Tyler Seguin for the 1st pick? Tim Thomas still has a couple years left on his contract of being a superhero in Boston. So could Tuuka Rask be in play for the right price. Would Boston ever give Rask and Seguin for the first overall selection. Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall became good friends throughout the whole Taylor vs.. Tyler battle. The Oilers could possibly offer Devan Dubnyk to the Bruins as a young, backup to Tim Thomas. Thomas was once in the Oilers organization remember, Could the Oilers nab Dennis Seidenberg by possibly offering up Theo Peckham and Alex Plante, chosen 15th overall by the Oilers in 2007. To recap : To Boston- 1st pick, Devan Dubnyk, Theo Peckham, and Alex Plante To Oilers- Tyler Seguin, Tuuka Rask, and Denis Seidenberg.
4. The Devils own the fourth selection in the upcoming draft. How about the Oilers swapping picks with the Devils and receiving prospects such as center Adam Henrique, who played with Taylor Hall on the Spitfires. Henrique posted 50 points along with 25 goals this season playing for the Albany Devils of the AHL. The Devils could also solid all-around defender Jon Merril, the 27th ranked prospect in hockey’s future prospect rankings. Huberdeau could possibly already be taken when it comes to the 4th pick but six foot four center Sean Couturier should be available. Sean Couturier, of the QMJHL, was the top ranked prospect heading into the 2010-11 season and was not expected to drop to where he has. He could turn out being next season’s Jeff Skinner. So to recap : To New jersey- 1st pick To Oilers- 4th pick, Adam Henrique, and Jon Merril.
5. How about a not likely trade with Nashville? The Oilers could send the first overall pick to Nashville and maybe get prized prospects defensemen Jonathan Blum and Ryan Ellis, who scored 101 points this past season in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires. The Predators could add in Blake Geoffrion, a natural center who won the Hobey Baker Award in 2009-10. This past season, he played for the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL and had 37 points in 45 games. Maybe he would be good playing between Hall and Eberle. The Predators would also have to add in their leading scorer Sergei Kosistyn. Kosistyn was linemates with Sam Ganger on the London Knights and they worked really well together. In the 2006-07 season, Kosistyn scored 131 points while Ganger had 118 points on the Knights. And maybe the Oilers can send a body to Nashville to clear some space, a player such as Andrew Cogliano could shine on the Predators. So to recap: To Nashville- 1st pick and Andrew Cogliano To Oilers- Jonathan Blum, Ryan Ellis, Blake Geoffrion, and Sergei Kosistyn. Just another crazy idea I had.
If the Oilers could drop down a couple of spots in the draft order and receive decent prospects that can step in next year and grow with the team while also being able to select a probable star such as Jonathan Huberdeau, there’s a good chance they would do it. Unless there really bent on selecting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, which wouldn’t be a bad choice. And if the Oilers can receive a can’t miss deal of a bundle of prized prospects and solid NHL players for the 1st in a package, why not. The Oilers are following the same rebuilding plan as teams like the Penguins and Chicago, who went through years of turmoil to Stanley Cup victory. Fans will start to get restless if there is no progress made this year.