The Contrarian: Netting Out

Demetri Fragopoulos


Why would the Oilers draft Nail Yakupov if most of their scouts did not want to draft him?

Much has been written about the Edmonton Oilers ‘luck’ at obtaining the first overall pick, their scouting staff, and the ineffectiveness of their picks. In the recent week it was notably about Nail Yakupov.

“Nine to two” starts an article by Mark Spector of Sportsnet, which details how the Oilers scouting staff did not want to select Yakupov and yet the team did just that.

As he describes it, “that morning proceeded strangely.”

The scouts were asked to vote and vote again, no matter what was tabulated. In the end it was nine scouts against Yakupov and two for in drafting him as the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

This is not entirely new news though.

Back in December 2014 the same Mark Spector wrote, “The Edmonton Oilers scouts did not want Yakupov at the draft table that day,” and he suggested that, “everything needs to change in Oilers organization.”

Andrew Ference was quoted, “We’re still hammering the same nail.” The foreshadowing of his comment could not have been anticipated.

Spector critiques Yakupov’s performance in 2014, and it was not flattering. He cheats defensively, others do the hard work, and he is “flaccid.”

He provides another evaluation from an unnamed scout who warned about selecting Yakupov. Of Yakupov’s 2016 performance, they said, “He still doesn’t know where to go. His feet are moving 100 miles an hour, his stick is beating the hell out of the puck, and he doesn’t have a clue where he’s going and what he’s going to do with it.”

Spector rightfully does not stop there. His eyes turn toward the scouts’ effectiveness writing back then. “Of all the things wrong with this team, its draft record is the worst derelict, most culpable for its annual failures,” and their list of prospects were tagged as, “a sorry lot brazened by ‘maybes’”.

With eyes to the present, he declares, “The fact is, missing out on the best player in 2012 runs parallel with that group’s strength in player evaluation, post 2006.”

Others have done similar examinations. They include NHLNumbers, Oilers Nation, Edmonton Journal citing The Hockey News, SB Nation’s Copper & Blue, The Oilers Rig, and Lowetide.

At the time they did not know the vote count, s