June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Nail Yakupov puts on an Oilers jersey after being selected as the number one overall draft pick to the Edmonton Oilers in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Schultz, The Draft, and Free Agency


Welcome to the start of the Oilers 2012-2013 season. Oh sure, the actual games are still months away, but this year, like it has for the previous two before it, started with Oiler fans coming out of hibernation after another long playoff-less spring, just in time to watch the entry draft. It has become ritualistic now; we watch which set of young shoulders with bear the burden of the hopes and expectations of a long-suffering fanbase, followed by free agency just a handful of days later, as Bob Cole would say, “Everything is happening.”

Lets break everything down, shall we?

The Draft

I was actually both convinced and scared that we would be using this year to bypass the best available player and draft by need. To be honest, I was always of the mindset that we should have traded the pick if we could get a small bounty for it. The flipside of that though is that we employ General Manager Ralph Wiggum Steve Tambellini, so it’d be doubtful we would actually get fair value in a trade.

And as much as I’m sure Murray will do just fine in the league, I don’t think he’ll be the best defenceman to come out of it. He’s the surest to make a squad this year and contribute, but my opinion is that both Griffin Reinhart and Morgan Rielly have higher potential.

Nail Yakupov 

Can we just take a moment and put aside all fears of the KHL for now? The kid played his junior in Canada, and has stated he wants to play in the NHL. Now if three years pass and we’re still at the bottom of the standings, then maybe I’d worry about the kid leaving for the KHL, I’d also worry about every other skilled player using any means available to try and get the hell out of here if that’s the case.

And lets be patient with his “showboating” at Oilers development camp. He’s young and just became a millionaire overnight, I’d be shocked if he didn’t show any exuberance whatsoever. If anything, it shows the guy likes to succeed, has a passion for winning, and if there’s anything a 29th place team needs, it’s more people with that kind of attitude.

Justin Schultz

First of all, let’s get the facts straight in this case. Schultz is a 21 year old prospect from the NCAA. Prospect, he’s not some 5 or 6 year veteran who’s hit the block. Yes, I hope the Oilers sign him, he’s a solid looking prospect on the blueline. But I’m not expecting miracles. There has been a ridiculous amount of hype around the kid, created by the media because outside of Suter and Parise, it looks to be a yawn-fest of a free agency period. If he chooses Edmonton, don’t expect him to come in, lead defencemen in scoring, win the Calder and Norris while dragging the Oilers into the playoffs, its not going to happen.

I do find it interesting however how we haven’t heard anyone say that teams are going to be wary of drafting college kids because they’re worried they might use the same loophole Schultz did, I’m sure that’s just some oversight or something, and not due to nationality, right?

Also, while I understand why Anaheim Duck fans are upset, you guys got Chris Pronger basically for free, after he demanded a trade after signing a contract, didn’t hear any Ducks fan question his character like you do with Schultz now, so I play the worlds smallest violin for you.

Free Agency

I really hope our management has a plan in place in the event that Schultz doesn’t sign here. I’d really hate to go from trying to sign Justin Schultz, watching players like Garrison, Carle, get locked up by other teams, and then we’re left with someone like Bruno Gervais. Even if we sign Schultz, we still need more help on our blueline, and some upgrades on our bottom six forwards would go far too.

I’d really like to see a reliable backup signed for Dubnyk, but unfortunately this team looks committed to giving Khabibulin playing time. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I’m not holding high hopes for free agency, based on Tambo’s track record since he came here, free agency has been a vastly disappointing experience. So come on Ralphie, prove me wrong.

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Tags: Draft Day Free Agency Justin Schultz Nail Yakupov