EDMONTON, CANADA - OCTOBER 25: Taylor Hall #4 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers laugh on the bench after teammate Jordan Eberle #14 missed an open net against the Vancouver Canucks on October 25, 2011 at the Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Finishing 30th overall, unthinkable to fans just six weeks ago, seems like an inevitability for the Edmonton Oilers. The team sits just six points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but have won just 9 times their last 33 games. The Jackets have won 10 of their last 33 games. The Jackets' goal differential over that span is -27, the Oilers' differential is -29. Even if they manage to avoid yet another last place finish, 29th looks like the best a team with razor-thin depth and questionable NHL goaltending can manage.
So another top pick in the Oilers' perpetual rebuild will join Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the franchise saviors, Edmonton's Holy Trinity, if you will. Nail Yakupov, the Russian forward playing in Sarnia is the clear #1 in the midpoint rankings and Mikhail Grigorenko, the Russian forward playing in Quebec is #2. Grigorenko is just clear of #3 Matthew Dumba, the physical defensemen with power play acumen plying his trade in Red Deer.
Given that the Oilers lack any sort of defensive depth on the NHL roster, fans are rumbling about drafting a defenseman in June. But blueliners mature by the sundial, and any defenseman with an extended development timeline wouldn't be ready to contribute at a high level until Taylor Hall was UFA-eligible. That leads the Oilers back to the Russians - both labeled as gamebreakers - at the top of the first round.
It also leaves the Oilers' future in the hands of General Manager Steve Tambellini. Tambellini must find two top-end defensemen via trade or free agency, unless his scouting staff feels that Dumba or Murray will be able to contribute at a high level at the age of 18.
The Oilers are going to pick first or second overall in June. Should they take a defenseman or a forward?
Defenseman - Matthew Dumba or Ryan Murray (146 votes)
Forward - Mikhail Grigorenko or Nail Yakupov (389 votes)
535 total votes