The Edmonton Oilers have resigned RFA Sam Gagner to a one year contract extension for $3.2mm. The signing came moments before his scheduled arbitration hearing. With pretty much the same roster as last year, here is a glimpse of how the lineup might look on opening night.
The Edmonton Oilers got off to a head start on free agency by inking Justin Schultz and resigning Ryan Smyth, but they have to do much more to have a shot at the playoffs this season. What is left on the UFA pile that may be of some value? Read on to find out.
The "Russian Factor" has become a buzzword among main stream media types of late, especially in regards to the nationality of potential lottery draft picks Yakupov and Grigorenko. Further the Don Cherry's of the world will tell you a Canadian or North American player has heart while a Russian or European is enigmatic. Let's take a look at a couple soon to be UFA's and discuss media perception of these players vs. their actual results.
In this edition of the prospect report I will continue my look into what the Islanders and Garth Snow may do with the 4th overall selection in the upcoming draft. In the first part of the series I looked at some of the top rated defensive prospects in the draft. That article can be found by clicking here. This time around I will look at some of the offensive prospects that could be available at #4 and how they might fit with the Islanders.
We all know that unless the Islanders trade up to the first overall pick that they don’t stand a chance at getting Nail Yakupov so I will leave him off this list. The first forward I will look at will be Mikhail Grigorenko (6’-3” 200lbs) from Quebec of the QMJHL. Mikhail is expected to be the 2nd Russian taken in the top five after Yakupov. He is a big center-man with a high hockey IQ that helps him see the ice and generate points. His great vision and hands led him to 85 points in 59 games during his first season of North American hockey.
I have said that I believe it would be better for the Islanders to finish between 10th and 12th place in the Eastern Conference as opposed to going the 'Fail for Nail' route and trying to get a top-five lottery pick for this summer's 2012 Entry Draft. But if the season ended today, the Isles would go into the lottery with the fifth pick in the draft. Although that is the least likely position to be in when hoping to move up to number one, the Islanders are almost guaranteed to at least have a selection in this year's top 10 class.
With the playoff picture painting itself out on a permanent canvas over the next two weeks, let's put ourselves in the shoes of some NHL scouts and take a quick glance at what the Islanders will be looking at in between game 82 and draft day.
Nail Yakupov is the clear choice for first overall, having a lot of Alexander Ovechkin comparisons made about his play. After Nail comes Mikhail Grigorenko, who has often been compared to Evgeni Malkin. Both of these Russian prospects will probably be out of the Islanders grasp barring a significant change on the day of the lottery. After these two goal-scoring forwards lie plenty of top-rated defenseman.
The playoffs might be further out of sight, and the reality that the Islanders aren't a playoff team has become more and more apparent with every weakening loss, but this is not the time to "fail for Nail."
Nail Yakupov is considered to be the obvious choice for the number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year old Russian sniper scored 101 points (49 goals, 52 assists) in 65 games played for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He currently has 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points for Sarnia and is a +14. The Islanders, like every other team in the NHL, could certainly benefit from having another scoring winger added to their line-up.
So why do I say that the Islanders shouldn't look to drop in the Eastern Conference standings?