I posted the most recent update of the consensus list at NHL Numbers yesterday, and the big news is Nail Yakupov's status as the unanimous number one amongst the seven services and scouts that comprise the list. The group's agreement on Yakupov is a first over the last three drafts - neither Taylor Hall nor Ryan Nugent-Hopkins held such a status.
And while Yakupov made our selection in the SBN Nation Mock Draft an easy one, maybe more interesting is the shuffling amongst the top defensemen in the draft. There exists a group of Oilers fans who hold firm to the opinion that the Oilers should trade down (usually specifically to the Leafs at #5) and select Ryan Murray, the defenseman from the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. In a world where Murray might be on par with Yakupov, or even closely ranked, that might make sense.
But Murray hasn't clearly established himself as the top defenseman in the draft. Murray and Mathew Dumba are in a virtual dead heat for the #4 overall ranking, with Murray taking the top spot four times and Dumba three.
Murray ranks as high as #3 (3x) and as low as as #8 and #13. Dumba ranks as high as #2 and as low as #8 and #10. Dumba is ranked behind Morgan Rielly 3x, Jacob Trouba 2x, and Griffin Reinhart 2x. Murray is ranked behind Morgan Rielly 2x. Beyond the individual rankings, Corey Pronman was asked via Twitter how this year's defensive class stacks up to Adam Larsson, 2011's top-ranked defenseman. Pronman replied that Larsson ranks well above the field in this year's class.
While Bob McKenzie's insider connections will tell the most accurate tale of the tape on the two defensemen, the disagreement amongst the services on the list and Murray's ranking relative to Larsson are noteworthy when "trade down" discussions arise.
Couple all of that with the three forwards that have cleared the field (Yakupov, Filip Forsberg and Alex Galchenyuk) and trading down for the inferior player doesn't make much sense. Last summer, when I argued for the Oilers to draft Adam Larsson over Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the argument was easy as Larsson was clearly the best defender available. Now, on the consensus list at least, the gap between Murray and Dumba is the second-smallest in the top 30. The gap between #3 Galchenyuk and #4 Murray is larger than the gap between #4 Murray and #6 Mikhail Grigorenko.
In fact, the gap between #1 Yakupov and #4 Murray is larger than the gap between #4 Murray and #10 Griffin Reinhart, meaning trading up from #31 to #8-10 using some combination of this year's picks, prospects and next year's lottery pick to take Morgan Rielly, Jacob Trouba or Griffin Reinhart makes more sense and delivers more value than trading down.