Sportsnet’s Luke Fox passes along a fascinating Igor Larionov interview from Russian reporter Andrey Osadchenko that indicates there could be quite the jostling for his clients Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Larionov implies that the Edmonton Oilers (No. 1 pick), Columbus Blue Jackets (No. 2), Montreal Canadiens (No. 3) and even Toronto Maple Leafs (No. 5) could end up with one or more of those high-end Russian players and Sarnia Sting fixtures.
“[Oilers GM Steve] Tambellini told me: ‘We like him. We want him. But we’re going to make a decision the day before the draft,’” Larionov said. “I also know the Habs want to get one of my guys – either Nail or Alex [Galchenyuk]. So do the Leafs. It is possible that the Leafs are going to trade their draft pick and get both of them. There is a possibility like that. Nail and Alex went to New Jersey for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. After this they met Leafs GM Brian Burke. Then Nail met with the Habs.”
The Oilers hold the trump card – aka the top pick – when it comes to Yakupov, yet they haven’t been shy about at least courting offers for the high-end prospect. Galchenyuk’s situation might end up being the most interesting to watch if Edmonton keeps it simple by nabbing Nail at No. 1, especially if the Blue Jackets aren’t sold on him. Columbus could very well trade down or open the door for any number of intriguing scenarios.
Larionov doesn’t seem too concerned in the grand scheme of things, though.
“I don’t care when they are going to be picked,” Larionov said. “I want them to be picked by teams that play their kind of hockey. Because they have a bright future ahead of them. I want them to be in the right hands and in the right atmosphere. Whether it’s Columbus, Toronto or Islanders – it’s not important to me. The NHL is a very successful league, it’s doing well. I know these kids. I see how they work. I don’t see any problems for them. They’re going to be okay.”
They might even end up great.