2012 World Junior Hockey Championships - United States v Canada

Oilers president loves top draft prospect Ryan Murray

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According to online bookmaker Bodog, the Edmonton Oilers are most likely to draft Russian forward Nail Yakupov (-200) with the first overall pick this summer. After Yakupov, Canadian defenseman Ryan Murray (+150) is the next likeliest option, with “trade the pick/any other player” the longshot at +600.

Those who like to bet on this sort of stuff might want to note what Oilers president Kevin Lowe told 630 CHED in Edmonton yesterday (via Eye on Hockey) about Murray, who’s currently playing for Team Canada at the world championships.

“He’s played remarkably well for a young fellow and I’ve talked to the other GMs and scouts that are here and they all agree that he’s going to play in the National Hockey League next year, no question,” Lowe said.

”There’s no surprise why Central Scouting has him rated second. He’s the top player. And often with the top players, or occasionally with the top players, they’re not ready to play in the National Hockey League, but I don’t question his readiness for next year.”

If there’s one area the Oilers need to upgrade, it’s the back end. Up front, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall should provide offense for years to come.

Edmonton has some good prospects in defensemen Jeff Petry, Oscar Klefbom, and David Musil. However, Murray could be too good to pass up, and if he can play in the NHL next season, even better.

If we had to bet, we’d sooner wager $100 (to win $150) on Murray than $100 (to win $50) on Yakupov.

Related: Tambellini willing to trade Oilers’ first overall pick

PHT Morning Skate: Remembering 10 years of Crosby, Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Here’s a detailed look back at Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin‘s first 10 years in the NHL. (NHL.com)

Speaking of Crosby, he’s signed a multiyear partnership with adidas. (Newswire)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play a key role in easing Connor McDavid into the NHL. (Edmonton Sun)

After two polar opposite seasons, the jury is still out on Patrick Roy as a head coach. (Denver Post)

Marc-Andre Fleury enjoys pulling off pranks on his teammates. “I play better when I’m looser, laughing and having fun,” he said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Art McDonald, a Canadian who won recently won a Nobel Prize, talked to the committee members about the Toronto Maple Leafs. (SB Nation)

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?