Questions have surrounded Edmonton Oilers winger Nail Yakupov throughout his sophomore season and the young Russian can expect more as the Oilers host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
Yakupov was selected first overall at the 2012 NHL Draft, with the Jackets selecting defenceman Ryan Murray second overall.
While Yakupov enjoyed an excellent rookie season in 2012-13, scoring 17 goals and totaling 31 points in 48 games, Murray spent an extra year in junior. His was a disappointing season that saw him limited to just 23 games with the Everett Silvertips due to a shoulder injury. That injury would also keep him out of Canada's 2013 World Junior plans.
This season, however, both broke camp with their respective NHL clubs, and their respective stocks have trended in opposite directions.
Murray, though he's only produced four points through 20 games, has averaged nearly 19 minutes per game on the Blue Jackets' blue line, posting a plus-3 rating on a sub-.500 Columbus team.
Yakupov, meanwhile, has limped out of the gate. He has scored just three goals and three assists with the lowly Oilers, posting an NHL-worst minus-14 rating. The struggling sniper was even a healthy scratch for back-to-back games in mid-October.
Columbus Dispatch reporter Aaron Portzline fanned the flames on the debate early Tuesday morning.
"Way, way too early to call who was right. But maybe Edmonton picks differently if they had 2012 draft to do over again," Portzline tweeted in the early morning hours.
"Remember, too, Howson was so enamored of Murray that he turned down a "take all of our picks" offer from NY Islanders to stay at No. 2," Portzline added.
So, by Portzline's comments, the Blue Jackets were thrilled to have wound up with Murray at the second pick. But does that mean that they would have grabbed him over Yakupov if given the chance? Portzline thinks so.
"If memory serves, Howson and [Columbus] would have drafted Galchenyuk @ No. 2 if Murray was taken No. 1 by Edmonton," Portzline added.
Galchenyuk - now in his second year in Montreal – had a rookie season to rival Yakupov's, scoring nine goals and 27 points on the Northeast Division Champion Canadiens. He's picked up where he left off in his second season, putting up 15 points through 21 games so far in 2013-14. That total is good enough for second on the Habs.
So, did the Oilers gaffe in going for Yakupov above the likes of Galchenyuk and Murray?
It's also possible that the Oilers could have dangled that first overall draft pick to either the Canadiens or Blue Jackets to get extra picks or prospects while still being able to grab one of the three top players, possibly even still getting Yakupov.
Their decision to go after Darnell Nurse seventh overall in the 2013 Draft certainly suggests that they could have used a blue line boost. But - as Portzline said on Twitter – it is also very, very early to be making these kinds of judgments.
If you had a chance for a do-over, what would you have done with the No. 1 pick??
As always, it's Your! Call.