Yesterday, we spotlighted a pretty interesting interview an Edmonton Oilers blog did with Hockey Hall of Famer Igor Larionov.
Larionov, the agent representing OHL Sarnia draftees Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk, relayed some intel from Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, who holds the first overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Tambellini told me: ‘We like [Yakupov]. We want him. But we’re going to make a decision the day before the draft’. I also know the Habs want to get one of my guys – either Nail or Alex.
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.
The idea of Burke going after Yakupov and Galchenyuk will raise eyebrows. This is the same Burke, after all, that “hijacked” the 1999 draft to get both Daniel and Henrik Sedin into Canucks uniforms.
That deal is widely considered to be one of his savviest moves — if not the savviest — as a general manager.
On the Sunday before the draft, [then-Chicago GM Bob] Murray and Burke finally reached an agreement: Vancouver would send defenceman Bryan McCabe and a first rounder in 2000 for the No. 4 selection in ’99. But Burke wouldn’t register that deal until draft day, so as not to tip off the other GMs on his plan to hijack the 1999 draft.
He then flipped that No. 4 pick and a pair of third-rounders for Tampa’s No. 1 overall pick and then – with the 1st and 3rd overall picks now in hand – Burke convinced Atlanta GM Don Waddell to accept the first overall selection for Vancouver’s No. 2, with Atlanta giving up a conditional third-rounder with the promise to lay off either of the Sedins.
The result? Atlanta took Patrick Stefan first overall, Burke took the Sedins at No. 2 and 3.
Thirteen years later, Burke comes into the 2012 draft in an eerily similar situation. He’s got the fifth overall pick rather than third, but is looking at a pair of talented teens (both Yakupov and Galchenyuk are 18) that are teammates and have an established chemistry playing together — a package deal, if you will.
That Tambellini said he’s going to wait until the day before the draft could suggest he’s waiting for a potential deal to come along. One interesting thing to note is that, while Burke had longed for the Sedins well before the ’99 Draft, the McCabe trade only occurred six days in advance.