The rumors are flying all over about Nail Yakupov and his future with the Edmonton Oilers. While Yakupov has had a poor start with no points so far, he is arguably one of Edmonton's most talented players. The 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft has been scratched twice by new rookie head coach Dallas Eakins. Yakupov was not very happy about being scratched two games in a row and even went to the point of saying he won't necessarily change his game.
If I were Yakupov however, I would be worried about my future in Edmonton.
While I do not believe that Yakupov will leave the NHL for Russia in the KHL, I have no doubt that the opportunity was presented to Yak and his agent by his father and his former KHL team. Nail has made it very clear he wants to play in the NHL and with his talents will undeniably become a star in the NHL someday. I have to say Eakins is right though, once he learns how to play the game in both ends of the ice, he will become a dangerous and effective player than he already is. But onto the rumors...
The first initial reaction I had to the rumors was "No way they will trade Yakupov, they just drafted him and his potential is to the ceiling." However, if you look closely at the Oilers roster, the trade rumors all started to make sense.
Here are the Oilers top 6 forwards right now in no particular order:
Now remember Sam Gagner is hurt right now and should be expected back the earliest end of October but most likely in November. Although Yakupov is clearly a talented player, he does not fit into the top 6 right now and may not when Gagner comes back. This is why Yakupov is expendable and could bring back much needed assets for Edmonton. Yes, this is only his second NHL season. But it doesn't mean he can't or shouldn't be traded.
Right now, I can see Yak going for a goalie that is NHL-ready or a year or two away from being NHL-ready. Currently, I don't see many teams with two NHL starting goalies on their roster besides St.Louis and I wouldn't dare keep Yakupov in the Western Conference via trade.
The only teams I could see making sense in the Eastern Conference are the Leafs, Lightning, Senators, Sabres, Capitals, and the Flyers. Every team has a backup NHL ready (Leafs with Reimer, Lightning with Lindback, Senators with Lehner, Sabres with Enroth, Capitals with Neuvirth, and Flyers with Emery). However, realistically I could only see the Lightning, Sabres, and Flyers being in a position to acquire Yakupov for the right price.
A potential deal I could see the Lightning doing is giving up Brett Connolly/Tyler Johnson, Keith Aulie, and Anders Lindback with a pick coming in somewhere. However, even this trade isn't likely for the Lightning and they already have a bunch of young forwards coming in (Drouin, who I would take over Yakupov).
For the Sabres, it is basically the same situation as the Lightning. They have a deep prospect pool coming in and going through a rebuild stage, with GM Darcy Regier and potentially Rolston likely being fired in the near future. Only thing I could see is that the Sabres have a ton of defenseman which the Oilers definitely need and them MAYBE giving up Enroth. Miller is playing extremely well for the Sabres right now and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, the Sabres may want to keep Enroth for next year. The only thing for Miller being moved is if the Sabres are clearly out of the playoff race and want to get assets for Miller before he most likely leaves Buffalo. But at that time, I think Yakupov will be already gone or off the trading block. Potential deal could be Miller, Tyler Myers (yes Myers because they have Rasmus and Zadorov who I think outcompete Myers), and maybe even throw in Leino for Yak and a pick or another asset.
Last but not least, the Flyers, which I think is the most likely destination if Nail is in fact traded. The Flyers do not have many skilled offensive prospects coming through the system with the exception of Laughton. The addition of Yakupov would be a key addition that adds youth and skill to the Flyers. The Oilers need a defenseman and Brayden Coburn has been a rumor to go. Only thing possibly holding this deal up is the Oilers wanting Sean Couturier, which I am not sure if the Flyers are willing to give up. In my view, I would make the trade and include Couturier. You have Scott Laughton being NHL ready and being compared to Mike Richards, who is a dynamic two-way player while acquiring a skilled winger in Yakupov while clearing an unwanted defenseman with a bad contract in Coburn. You can plug in Gustafsson who has played well or even Morin next season. A reasonable deal I see could be Emery, Coburn, Couturier for Yakupov and a 1st/2nd round pick. If I was Homer, I would make that trade happen, and just fill in someone in Emery's spot. Mason has played well enough so far where I think he could play a majority of the games this season. Acquiring Yakupov could solidify the Flyers top 9 for the present and future and give Giroux a true scoring threat on the wings.
But as of now, the Yakupov situation is just a rumor. He may not go anywhere, we don't know. All we can do is wait and see what happens.
Thanks for reading