Hockey Hall of Famer Igor Larionov has gone public with who he thinks the Oilers should take first overall at the upcoming draft — OHL scoring sensation Nail Yakupov.
“They’ve got to start to make the playoffs and start to play better as a team and be more consistent,” Larionov told TSN 1050. “I think Nail would be the perfect candidate [for them]. He can get right in the line-up and play hockey with all those young guys.”
Coincidentally, Larionov is the agent representing Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk, another projected top-10 pick.
(Which I’m sure has nothing to do with this.)
While the Oilers are interested in Yakupov — Larionov said his client would visit Edmonton after the NHL Draft Combine — adding talent up front isn’t an immediate need. The club already has the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (19 years old), Taylor Hall (20), Jordan Eberle (22) and Sam Gagner (22) in its top six and desperately needs help on defense.
Ergo, the club might consider taking Everett blueliner Ryan Murray, who Oilers president Kevin Lowe has raved about.
While the prospect of adding Murray is enticing, Larionov says an Edmonton team with Yakupov in the mix would be something special.
“It’s fun to watch them and it kind of reminds me of the Edmonton Oilers of the early 80s and the Red Army team after Lake Placid,” he said. “There were so many young guys and we were very successful because [we] had hockey sense and skill and speed and desire to be successful.”