Oilers take Yakupov with top pick; Murray goes second to Blue Jackets
Nail Yakupov, a winger from Russia who was chosen first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the NHL hockey draft, pulls on an Oilers’ jersey on Friday in Pittsburgh. — Photo by The Associated Press
The Edmonton Oilers selected Nail Yakupov with the first pick in the NHL draft Friday night.
The Russian sniper is the third forward in an as many years to be taken first overall by the Oilers.
Edmonton took left-winger Taylor Hall with the No. 1 selection in 2010 and followed that up by taking Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first pick last year.
Yakupov had 31 goals and 38 assists in 42 games with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League in 2011-12.
The five-foot-10, 189-pound right-winger suffered a concussion this season after recording 101 points in his rookie campaign with the Sting.
Yakupov has an impressive combination of speed and skill and was the consensus No. 1 pick among most scouts.
He’s the third Russian to be taken first overall following Ilya Kovalchuk (2001) and Alex Ovechkin (2004).
The Columbus Blue Jackets stepped up to the microphone next, taking defenceman Ryan Murray with the second pick.
The six-foot, 201-pound Murray ranked second among North American-based skaters behind Yakupov and is arguably the most NHL-ready player in the draft.
A solid all-around defenceman with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, Murray had 31 points (9-22) in 46 games during a season where missed time with a high ankle sprain.
Murray also represented Canada at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Finland, becoming the second-youngest player ever to wear the Maple Leaf at the tournament.
The Montreal Canadiens picked third and took centre Alex Galchenyuk, who ranked fourth among North American-based skaters.
The six-foot, 198-pound Galchenyuk was limited to just eight games this season with the Sarnia Sting because of a torn ACL.
He finished second in OHL scoring in 2010-11 behind Yakupov, his linemate in Sarnia, with 83 points (31-52).