Trade possibilities for Yakupov


I’m stuck at the Regina airport, sitting through my first ever cancelled flight scenario. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. for a 6:15 flight, is never ideal, but after driving 45 KM from Moose Jaw to Regina, arriving at the airport at 5:20 a.m. and seeing your flight cancelled does not put a spring in your step. But with seven hours to kill I had some time to look at trade possibilities.

With Nail Yakupov and his agent Igor Larionov asking for permission from the Oilers to seek a trade in February, it is safe to assume the 2012 first overall pick will not return to Edmonton for a fifth season.

Which teams would be interested, and what is a realistic return?

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I looked for teams who have skilled players who were in a similar situation to Yakupov. Players who, for various reasons, weren’t fitting in.

Valeri Nichuskin and the Dallas Stars

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Nichushkin was the 10th overall pick in 2013. He tallied 14 goals and 34 points as a rookie in 2013/2014. He only played eight games (0-1-1) due to injury and he has nine goals and 27 points this year playing 13:54/game. He is averaging 0:55/game on the PP and the young forward expressed his frustration in an interview with SportsExpress.

Slava Malamud is a Russian reporter who covers the NHL and he translated this beauty quote from Nichuskin.

Nichuskin is 6’4″ and 205 pounds. I’m sure the Stars are leery of trading him, but he’s clearly disgruntled and might ask to be moved. Lindy Ruff prefers playing veterans, and Yakupov will play his 250th NHL game this Saturday. He’ll enter his fifth NHL campaign next year, so he has some experience.

Both shoot left, both are skilled forwards, and both want a change of scenery. Nichushkin will be an RFA this summer and he has no arbitration rights. Yakupov has a $2.5 million cap hit next season. Nichushkin’s new deal will most likely be around $2 million so the money is close.

Yakupov has 49-59-108 in 249 games.

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Nichushkin has 23-39-62 in 161 games.

Both players have the potential to be 20 goal-scorers, both have some deficiencies in their game, and both believe they should be playing more.

Would you make this trade? Would the Stars? Would the Oilers?

It is a deal worth considering for both sides, although I suspect Oilers would need to sweeten the offer. There is a risk neither will become the player scouts believed they would be on draft day, and the risk is equal for both teams that they player they trade could flourish in his new city. 

Kevin Hayes and the New York Rangers

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The Chicago Blackhawks selected Hayes 24th overall in 2010. He played four years at Boston College and after graduating in 2014 he choose free agency instead of siging with the Hawks. The Rangers signed him to a two-year deal.

He played 13:02/game (only :36/game on PP) as a rookie last season and scored 17 goals and 45 points in 79 games. This year he’s playing 13:36/game (1:34/game PP) and has 12-22-34 in 74 games. His coach, Alain Vigneault, recently said he wants more assertiveness and better defensive play from Hayes.

Hayes might simply be having sophomore slump, and even though he hasn’t been as productive as last year, he’s still been more productive than Yakupov. Hayes is also much bigger at 6’5″ and 225 pounds. He doesn’t play a physical game, but when he’s engaged his big frame allows him to make plays.

He is an RFA this summer, and his ELC had a base of $900,000, but with bonuses he had an AAV of $3.750 million.

The Rangers don’t have a first or a second round draft pick this year. The Oilers have a second and three third rounders, so they could add one of their third rounders.

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Glen Sather isn’t the GM in New York anymore, but he’s the President and he’s always had a soft spot for skilled players. If the Rangers lose in the first round of the playoffs, general manager Jeff Gorton might be more inclined to make a move.

I think acquiring Hayes is more of a long shot than Nichushkin, and the Oilers would likely need to add a pick or a prospect to the deal, but Hayes hasn’t impressed the Rangers this season. They wouldn’t be the first team to trade a young player away after an sub-par season.

Jason Zucker and the Minnesota Wild

Zucker ( 5’11, 188) is very close in size to Nail Yakupov (5’11, 195). Zucker is a year older, but he’s played 164 games to Yakupov’s 249 after splitting his first two years between the NHL (41 games) and the AHL (77 games).

Zucker tallied 21-5-26 in 51 games last year (missed 31 due to injury), but he only has 13-10-23 in 66 games this season. He missed six games with a concussion in February, but he’s been a healthy scratch in four of the Wild’s previous eight games. He only had 2-2-4 in his previous 26 games. He has not been a fit with new head coach John Torchetti.

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He is a RFA this summer and he was only a $900,250 cap hit. The Wild only have a first, fourth and two seventh round draft picks, so they should be in the market to acquire a draft pick this summer. Would Yak and a 2nd or 3rd do it?



The Ducks were interested at the deadline, and I’m sure Peter Chiarelli will re-visit those discussions this off-season. The Ducks have a lot of D-men, so Yakupov would be part of a package deal more than a one-on-one deal with them. If the Ducks have an early playoff exit, they will make some moves, and even if they have a deep run, they most likely will be trading one of their young defenders.

They already have six defenders (Fowler, Manson, Despres, Bieksa, Stoner and Theodore) under contract and need to sign Lindholm and Vatanen. I believe Vatanen will be available this summer.

Do you see any other plausible players a team would be willing to trade for Yakupov?

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I believe there will be a market for him. You likely won’t get a proven veteran for Yakupov, unless he has an inflated contract, but Yakupov is only four years removed from being the first overall pick and some teams will believe he could produce in a different environment.

Would you make any of the aforementioned deals? Are their other players you believe the Oilers could move Yakupov for?



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  • That's My Point

    Should the Oilers also trade Maroon?

    People seem to forget that Yak also had a point per game playing with McDavid before McDavid got inured.

    Would Maroon score at a point a game pace on the 3rd or 4th line with pluggers?

    Yak led the Oilers in scoring his rookie year 17 goals in 48 games (lockout), of course he’ll score 20+ goals if playing on the 1st or 2nd line and getting power play minutes with another team.

  • Opie

    If you can’t add nail in for a trade to acquire a d man like vatanen then that’s when I’d trade him. Not a chance Rangers give up Hayes. Only other option I can see is Beaulieu on Montreal or what I would prefer, maybe Yak + Fringe prospect/draft pick for Nichushkin??

  • DieHard

    Yak is top 6 or the KHL. Interested teams are looking at him for a top 6 role not bottom. He’ a gamble that should put the return as something plus conditional. The something should be an A-prospect and the conditional a second rounder the next year if he plays X number games. There should be competition for him (he’s freaking young).

  • Oiler Al

    Strictly based on Gregors 3 examples [ good research] my picks would be; Nichuskin,Hayes, and say no to Zucker.

    People are mentioning maybe Drouin,but I think the need for the West is size .Drouin plays similar to the Oilers core.We need more grit.

    At the end don’t give Yak away for nothing. At the same time you are not getting Vatannen for Yak.

    Most likely deal will involve some sort of package of players.

  • I would love to package Yakupov up for a 2nd pairing RHD, but I would imagine he has little value at this point. I know NYI wants a D back for Hamonic, I wonder if they’re open to Yak+Davidson? Probably not, but an Oiler fan can hope I suppose.

  • Boom76

    Here are a couple of options:

    1) Yak & Pouliot for to Wpg R-shot Trouba. If that’s not enough, either a 2016 2nd, or a 2017 first.

    2) Yak and 2016 2nd to Phi for Sam Morin (love his 6’6″) and someone else. He might be too young for what we need now, but I think a great return for a Yak and a pick.

    Also, I just want to say, I REALLY hope we get the #2 ball so we can draft Patrik Laine. He looks unreal and is huge.

    • Hamm34

      man to have laine and drai on the same line. They would push right through defenses and get right to the net. I think you have to gauge who has more value between eberle and laine to get a #1 defensemen. And im pretty sure most will agree laine has more value to get that stud dman.

  • Oilfan4149397

    Something that you must keep in mind is that the oilers will have to sign Vatanen, and his contract will probably be something like 6 million over 6 years, I would do that contract. Because we’d have to sign him, would yak+2nd rd+griff get it done? Too much? Not enough?

  • Gadgets

    Th problem with a lot of the trade proposals for Yakupov is a lot of teams think they know what he is, but are hoping he’s even better. He’s 90% player and 10% potential. A lot of guys, such as Nichuskin, are younger, are more of an unknown, and therefore have more potential. They’re 50% player and 50% potential. It makes it really hard to make a trade when there is so much unknown to a player as GM’s don’t want to make a deal that could look really bad in a few years. I think the only deal that could be out there is for picks, or an established player with less skill.

  • CLubhouse

    Would love the Kreider someone suggested.

    Here’s a list of teams that Staples said Yak could go to:

    Calgary, Jersey, Canucks, Lightning, Sabres, Jets, Carolina, Montreal

    Nobody there except a Trouba deal or Larsson both would need big adds from Edmonton excite me.

    I think it’ll be something like this, not tat I want to give klef up but gotta give to get and Eberle/Nuge wont get us Hamonic need a solid D with potential:

    Klefbom, Yakupov, 2017 2nd (sweetner)

    Hamonic, Strome

  • Hamm34

    I would love to see a trade with the foundation of yakupov for Tom wilson on washington. Hes a big mean forward who plays like a dick and uses his size to level other players, anyone remember his hit on schenn? I know it would take a lot to get washington to do this seeing as how you dont mess with success but yak could play with a skilled team whose forwards outscore everyone and trust holtby to keep them in close games, also he could play with kuznetsov or johansson, skilled enough to get yak scoring.

  • fasteddy

    Like a lot of others, I’ve been perplexed for years as to why this guy never gets to play on one of the top 2 lines for any extended amount of time. But having said that, I find it hard to believe that 5 coaches, or whatever it’s been, plus all the assistant coaches and management have got it wrong and I’m right! He must be terribly uncoachable or something. No way that many of his bosses give up on him otherwise.

  • CanaDave

    I think that the ego of NHL GM’s and coaches is being under rated in this discussion, because I would not be surprised at all to find out there are a number of coaches and GM’S who believe they absolutely could “fix” the problems of Yakupov in their system. If you believe that Yakupov has NHL-level talent and all his problems to this point have been mental, it’s easy to point at the 4 coaches in 4 years and say if the player had consistent structure and expectations established for him he could absolutely succeed in a new environment.

    Whether that’s true or not will not be known for at least a couple of seasons, but it was wise of Chiarelli to wait for the summer to resolve this situation, since Yakupov could be extremely valuable to someone in the summer and it only takes 1 out of 28 teams (29 but I’ll never trade to Calgary) to come to the same conclusion.

  • toprightcorner

    I like the option of Nichushkin if only because he has good size and a good skater. He was ranked top 5 in draft class but the uncertainty he would come over to North America pushed him back. I would do it straight across or maybe add a late pick but nothing more. I son”t see Nill wanting Yak as he wouldn’t fit into Ruffs coaching style. Ruff is a prove it first and Yak needs to be given the chance first.

  • Wintoon

    I would love to see the Oilers trade Yakupov to the NYR for Chris Kreider. He is a big winger who can really skate and would be a possible line mate for McDavid. He would certainly have the wheels to keep up and the size to have an impact

  • hags437

    Yak to Ottawa for Zack Smith. Sens are cheap and will like Yaks dough. They also need offense and have a boatload of centres. Smith is a beauty 3rd line C that has proven this year he can play up in the lineup. He wins face offs, fights, hits, kills penalties. Oh and he’s got 22 goals already