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Did Edmonton Oilers make the worst draft choose in NHL historical past? It hurts to say it, however yeah, most likely

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We had been thrilled when the Oilers drafted. We had been sure he can be a star.

Hell, legendary NHL coach Scotty Bowman in contrast his expertise to that of Russian supernova Pavel Bure.

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Many people grew to become besotted together with his potential in his early days in Edmonton. A few of remained that approach even after he was traded away.

However 11 years after Nail Yakupov was taken first total within the 2012 NHL entry draft, an argument could be made that in all of the years of the NHL draft, he was the worst choose.

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Removed from being exploding into famous person standing, Yakupov has by no means panned out as a professional participant. Other than a promising first NHL season, he’s by no means proven a lot on the AHL stage. And other than an honest first season within the KHL, he’s by no means established himself as a prime stage participant in Russia both.

He can be 30 this October, however on his Omsk Ovangard membership group within the KHL final yr he scored only one aim and two assists in 14 playoff video games, that after an everyday season that noticed him put up 10 factors in 16 video games.

There’s not going to be any sudden explosion the place Yakupov reaches the heights predicted for him when he was a significant junior ace with the Sarnia Sting. He lacks the dimensions, velocity, talent and hockey sense of an elite attacker both on the NHL or KHL stage.

Yakupov career

There are, after all, different contenders for the worst total choose. Because the first choose in an NHL draft is by far probably the most invaluable choose, it’s these picks that damage a group probably the most if it fails to draft an elite participant.

With that first total choose, an NHL group can take anybody in the complete draft. When you screw it up, your franchise can undergo for years to come back.

Just a few first total picks performed fewer NHL video games than Yakupov, specifically Gord Kluzak and Rick DiPietro. However Kluzak was an impressive younger NHL who confirmed each signal of turning into an all-star d-man earlier than damage ended his profession. DiPietro was additionally a robust younger goalie who was shut down by damage. Alexandre Daigle, Doug Wickenheiser and Brian Lawton had been additionally first total picks who didn’t grow to be prime line aces, however all of them had their moments within the NHL and last more than did Yakupov.

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The one two gamers who’re within the operating in opposition to Yakupov are Greg Joly, taken first total by the Washington Capitals within the 1974 draft and Patrick Stefan, taken first total by Atlanta within the 1999 draft.

Stefan last more within the NHL than Yakupov. Joly grew to become a stable AHL participant, seemingly higher in that league than Yakupov within the KHL. Joly additionally had the drawback of enjoying the Caps of 1974-75, the worst NHL group in league historical past.

If somebody desires to make the argument that Stefan or Joly was a worst choose than Yakupov, an argument can definitely be made. I’m not going to disagree. However Yakupov is clearly within the operating, together with his declare re-enforced by his mediocre KHL efficiency.

worst NHL draft picks

Sure, we’ve come a good distance with Yak because the spring of 2012, when Edmonton followers consoled themselves on one other rancid season within the Decade of Darkness with the “Fail for Nail” marketing campaign.

In drafting Yakupov, it was extensively held that the Edmonton Oilers chosen probably the most proficient participant in junior hockey.

The Yakupov choose had the texture of a no brainer, even when it gave the impression to be doubtful on the day of the draft as rumours unfold over the Web that the Oilers would use the highest choose to draft considered one of two younger defencemen, Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart.

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However that was to not be, as was made clear within the moments earlier than the Oilers made their choice and TSN analyst Bob MacKenzie weighed in. “The apparent choose, as apparent as it may be, is that Nail Yakupov is the man,” stated MacKenzie. “Eight of the ten scouts surveyed by TSN ranked him because the No. 1 prospect for this draft.”

Earlier that very same week on the Cult of Hockey, we ran a ballot about which gamers the Oilers ought to take. Within the moments earlier than the Oilers made their choice, 5,432 followers had taken half within the ballot, with 4,610 voting for Yakupov (85 per cent), 641 voting for Murray (12 per cent) and 181 voting for another participant (three per cent).

It’s clear that just about everybody was mad for Yakupov. And that made good sense.

Earlier than he suffered a knee damage (non-career threatening) at mid-season, Yakupov had been scoring at the next fee than Steve Stamkos, Taylor Corridor, Tyler Seguin and John Tavares of their draft years.

In Edmonton, nevertheless, Yakupov by no means discovered his area of interest. He was by no means handed over a spot on a prime line or on the highest energy play, not with a group already boasting Taylor Corridor, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle at ahead.

He by no means discovered his approach as a Prime Six ahead, save for just a few months in his rookie yr, then once more in 2014-15 when he teamed up on a line with Derek Roy.

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After Connor McDavid arrived, there have been hopes that McD would ignite Yak’s sport, however to not be.

In July 2016, Drew Remenda blasted Yakupov for his work effort in apply. “I feel he’s additionally obtained to be a greater apply participant…I do know I discuss this quite a bit. I do know they assume I’m a damaged document. However we’ve seen Nail Yakupov type of take a look at at apply. And he’s obtained to be higher, extra centered, decided in apply, as a result of that does 100 per cent switch over to the sport.”

In late Feb. 2016, close to the top of McD’s first yr and Yak’s final yr in Edmonton, commerce rumours round Yakupov had been continuous. At the moment, Yakupov had his haters in Edmonton who can be glad to see him gone, however he additionally nonetheless had followers who couldn’t fathom he could be on the way in which out.

Me? I used to be firmly within the center. It appeared to me that Yakupov had solely not often ever performed stable two-way hockey as an Oiler, and his attacking had virtually at all times been underwhelming. I may see why he was within the doghouse. He usually made horrible choices on the ice and demonstrated little puck sense, whilst he hustled like a madman most shifts.

All that stated, on a really unhealthy Oilers group with few stable choices on the wing, I had seen sufficient of Yakupov’s talent, drive and energy to wish to see him extra with McDavid or Taylor Corridor for a spell earlier than he was moved out.

Yak’s helps held out hope he would nonetheless make it large in another metropolis, displaying up the incompetence of the Oilers teaching workers and administration.

However to not be.

He struggled in St. Louis, then Colorado, then was out of the NHL by the beginning of the 2018-19 season.

In fact, he nonetheless may redeem himself in Russia, turning into a prime scorer within the KHL.

However that additionally proved to be an excessive amount of of a hope for Yakupov.

I want it had turned out totally different. I nonetheless hope he can discover his approach as a prime KHLer. And having made my case, I’ll go away it at that.

And I’ll go away you with this…

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On the Cult of Hockey

McCURDY: Oilers rocked enlargement period like no different beginner

LEAVINS: We already know the 2 predominant elements of Oilers’ Stanley Cup recipe — 9 Issues

McCURDY: Oilers and Vegas buying in several aisles

STAPLES: That smartest thing in regards to the Oilers that bores you a lot

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