One of the NHL’s top offensive draft prospects, Nail Yakupov or Alex Galchenyuk, could become Toronto Maple Leafs, according to the Sarnia Sting stars’ agent Igor Larionov. Or possibly both of them.
In an interview conducted by Russian hockey reporter Andrey Osadchenko and published on OilersNation.com Tuesday night, Larionov said that three Canadian teams — the Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs — are interested in his talented clients.
“(Oilers GM Steve) Tambellini told me: ‘We like him (Yakupov). We want him. But we’re going to make a decision the day before the draft.’ I also know the Habs want to get one of my guys — either Nail or Alex,” Larionov, a Hockey Hall of Famer, told the site.
“So do the Leafs. It is possible that the Leafs are going to trade their draft pick and get both of them. There is a possibility like that. Nail and Alex went to New Jersey for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. After this they met Leafs GM Brian Burke. Then Nail met with the Habs.”
The Leafs currently hold the fifth pick in the NHL Entry Draft, which begins June 22 in Pittsburgh. The Canadiens pick third, and the Oilers won the lottery and the No. 1 pick.
“The day before this interview I talked to Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe. They really like Nail. However, at this point they can’t promise anything,” Larionov said. “The same goes for Columbus. (Blue Jackets GM) Scott Howson, Craig Patrick and Tyler Wright spent two days in Sarnia with Yakupov and his family. It’s a serious indication they really want him.
“I look at the draft a little different. I look at the big picture. I don’t care when are they going to be picked. I want them to be picked by teams that play their kind of hockey. Because they have a bright future ahead of them. I want them to be in the right hands and in the right atmosphere. Whether it’s Columbus, Toronto or Islanders — it’s not important to me.”