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?



The draw and schedule has been made for our first annual NHL16 charity tournament. Check to see when you or your friends are playing.

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  • Ron Burgundy

    Perhaps I missed something somewhere, but just because Yak asked for a trade doesn’t mean he’s getting one, yet everyone is wishing him well or has their boots poised in the air to kick the door closed behind him when he leaves.

    I think it would be a mistake to trade him, because (a) you are selling at the bottom, (b) he’s not going to return anything all that useful (nobody on Gregor’s list is all that interesting to me, other than a Ducks D-man perhaps), and most importantly (c) if Eberle is traded for D that opens up a rather large hole at RW.

    I suspect Nail would be happy to stay with some combination of Nuge/McD/Drai/Hall as his permanent linemates. I also suspect we would be happy to have him score 20+ goals on such a line, at a cost less than half of Ebs. I know I would, and I’m not wishing him well just yet.

    • Jason Gregor

      You aren’t interested in Hayes or Zucker who have scored more than Yakupov in their short careers, but then suggest Yakupov will be a 20+ goal man if he plays with McDavid, Drai or RNH. Curious how come you believe he’d score more than then if they were playing with those centres?

      Here are his career numbers at EV with those three:

      RNH: 426 EVTOI..Zero goals.

      Drai: 206 EVTOI… one goal.

      McDavid: 202 EVTOI… Two goals.

      So in 834 EVTOI with those three he has four EV goals.

      I recognize he didn’t have a prolonged stretch with one of them, so if you believe continuity will improve I can buy that. But will continuity make him a 5x more productive goal man? That seems like the ultimate best case scenario.

      His most productive time was with Gagner when he scored eight goals in 596 EV TOI.

      Let’s say he plays 13 min of EV game and plays all 82 games next year that would be 1,066 of EVTOI with one of those centres.

      If he produces at same pace as Gagner, and we prorate it that means he’d score 14 EV goals.

      If he scores 7 PP goals that puts him at 21. Those are both best case scenarios based on production thus far.

      It’s fine if you want to keep Yakupov, but I believe the expectations of him just scoring 20+ due to linemates might not be as easy as you think.

    • S cottV

      Time to move on.

      Get the kind of pieces in place, that fit the vision as to how you want to play and get going.

      Bigger, harder to play against, stable.

      Yak is in the way.

      The opposite of the above and wants out.

      Make the deal – wish him all the best and don’t look back.

    • Yeah right. Yak doesn’t fit with the Oilers, period. Square peg, round hole something something.
      We need players that provide a net positive – i.e. score goals or keep goals from being scored. Yak brings neither and has not shown any capability to produce consistently except when paired with McDavid and the sample size was so small, I highly doubt he would have continued that level of output.

    • RJ

      That’s an interesting point that’s been left out of the discussion.

      When Larionov was on Gregor’s show he made the point that the decision was up to the Oilers. He made great pains to say this is not the Drouin situation where he wants to leave. It’s up to the Oilers.

      Having said that, it’s really up to McLellan and Chiarelli. If they plan to keep him with non-offensively skilled centres, then they should trade him. If they intend to use him with more skilled centres (like if they traded Eberle), then it’s possible they keep him.

      Personally, I have thought that Yak’s played a more complete game since the deadline. He’s making a more concerted effort to show what kind of player he can be either to the Oilers or to a new team.

      If they were going to trade Yak, then I wouldn’t be opposed to trading him for a Ducks prospect like Montour. He’s 21, 6′, 192 lbs, RHD. AHL all-star, plays the PP. He could be that 3rd pairing PP specialist playing protected minutes.

      • Hemmercules

        This whole situation is kind of funny. They ask for a trade and then Lari says Yak doesn’t want to leave. Which is it? lol.

        “Its up to the Oilers” he says. Of course its up to the Oilers, they own him and have been giving him the minutes they see fit based on his play.

        To me Lari is basically saying, “Play Yak unwarranted top line minutes or trade him asap”.

        Maybe Lari is right and they are utilizing him wrong and a lack of veteran leadership and too many coaches have stunted his career. Whatever the case it just doesn’t seem like a fit at this point. I try not to read too much into Plus/minus but when you have been on the ice for more goals against than you have points in the last 3 years its not working out.

        • RJ

          The Hockey Writers have had at least five articles about the Yak situation. I don’t remember which one it was, but one of the articles talked about Yak’s lack of production this season.

          They noted that Yak hasn’t scored a lot with Letestu. By way of comparison, they noted that Eberle and Pouliot have also played with Letestu this season. Most Oiler fans would agree that Eberle and Pouliot are legit top-6 wingers. For the season, Eberle had 1 point, no points for Pouliot. Its at least a reasonable possibility that Letestu is a black hole.

          I expect he’d be traded, and I think a quality prospect would be a decent enough return.

    • Hemmercules

      I’m a bit on the fence with trading Yak. I agree he’s not expensive and he can put up a few points when paired with the right players. He’s also only 22. The question remains though, does Tmac want him in the top 6?? He doesn’t do anything particularly well at this point and they can’t really let him toil on the bottom lines any longer.

      I honestly dont think Yak really wanted to be with the Oilers from the get go but thats just my opinion. Although the return wont be great (doesn’t help when your agent is telling the media you requested out a while ago) I think both him and the team need a change of scenery.

      I’m fairly confident Chia can land a 30-40 point RW if they trade Yak so not too worried about the hole he leaves just yet.

    • Jason Gregor

      Rental car at airport not open until 7:30 a.m. I was here at 5:30 when informed of cancellation. Would not have been home before 2 when show starts if I left at 7:45.

  • GCW

    There seems to be a rift between Severson and Hynes in New Jersey. The Devils need young scoring forwards, so I could see a deal where the Oilers acquire the right shooting Severson for yak. Would be a good deal for both teams.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    Jason, I like seeing you write mad. It shows you’re engaged and really giving 110%. It really ups your trade value but, I would say you’re part of the core and we’re not moving you for anything.

  • Great White

    Thinking back now, Yakupov probably could have used a sports Psychologist. 22 years old is young, guys. Not everyone is emotionally right. Even professional hockey players.

  • CBK

    After seeing Chiarelli fetch Maroon and have the Ducks (a budget team) retain salary, I have to believe he will be able to get some value for Yakupov.

    We have already seen Yak quote there were 8 teams interested in him but something went wrong.

    I’m assuming something went wrong because Chiarelli isn’t just going to give a former 1st overall pick for a 4th round pick.

    Not saying Chiarelli isn’t going to get a huge return but I’m hopeful he’ll get a fair one.

      • CBK

        Honestly, I am no good at being an armchair GM.

        But in my opinion and based on what I’ve seen from Yakupov I can’t help but look at the Oilers 3rd line Centre role.

        If the Oilers were doing a 1 for 1 trade (I doubt MTL would do this) I’d be happy with getting Lars Eller for Yakupov.

        I know there has been ties with Yakupov potentially playing with Galchenyuk and the Oilers add another C and one that fills a checking role that has size.

        If it were a package deal I’d try and re-visit the Vatanen scenario. If we could package Yak + pick/prospect and Anaheim were actually listening I’d consider that fair value also.

        I’m not Chiarelli and I have no idea what 8 teams are interested in Yakupov but my ask would be to address the obvious holes the Oilers need. 3rd line C or a package deal for a Top 4 RH D-man.

  • biased observer

    The real sad part about the Yak development is that he was probably the best Oiler at being an Edmontonian. I have never really seen a player like Yak wear their team gear on normal days.

    If we trade Yak we need to keep Eberle. I don’t want rookie 1st line RWs on this team next year.

    For Yak’s sake, I hope a team like Detroit can find room for him. Datysuk is probably the only player who can look Yak and Larionov in the eye and tell them both where they stand on and off the ice. I am a fan and want him to succeed.

    Yak and a 5th Rounder
    Trade for
    AHL RW-Nastasiuk, OHL RD-Saarijarvi,and a 2nd Rnd pick 2017

  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    Hmmmm, Chris Kreider is an RFA for the cap strapped NYR.

    *Kneels down, hands together & looking up to the sky*

    please be Kreider, please be Kreider, please be Kreider.

    • Keepyourstickontheice

      This would be a crazy acquisition, I can’t imagine NY is in too much of a hurry to move a player like that. Think Yakupov+2nd rounder+spare parts gets it done?

  • Great White

    A draft pick would be nice. It’s hard to believe, but with the promotion of Nurse and Dr. Drai the cupboards are empty in Edmonton. Moroz, Musil and Chase will not save us.

  • 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.

  • McDaddy

    Said this in another thread. I could see Mark McNeill from Chicago as a return. Former 1st rounder, has good size and is a right shot. Problem is I can see Yak lighting it up on the Hawks..

  • McRaj

    Hey Jason, do you think Yak plus a second rounder and prospect like Osterle would be enough to get Vatanen from the Ducks?

    Also, what about Yak for Drouin?

    • Jason Gregor

      Would need more than that for Vatenen. They would want one proven commodity I suspect.

      Bolts are high on Drouin. Yzerman not in a rush to deal him. Doubt they take Yak. Will want proven productive player or a highly rated prospect I’m told.

        • Jason Gregor

          I reported that rumour, but did not say who was coming back to Edmonton, because I didn’t get actual confirmation.

          Vatanen is a good guess, but none of us can say with certainty it was going to be him.

        • T.J.F.M.

          The deal was likely Yak, Pouliot + pick/prospect for Vatanen and Maroon.

          But this wont be revisited in the offseason because Anaheim picked up Pirri, who i believe has another year left on his contract. They wont be able to afford Yak and Pouliot anymore without sending more salary out the door than just an unsigned Vatanen. Plus, they don’t need Pouliot anymore. Maybe Yak, but i think that ship has sailed on a possible deal.

          I would have done that deal though. Especially with the way Maroon has stepped up and replaced Pouliot (without the O-zone penalties).

        • TKB2677

          I would do that trade in a heart beat. I think they still need another top pairing guy like a Hamonic but if Vatanen was your second pairing, right shot, PP QB, you’d have something.

          I personally think the Oilers have a deal in their back pocket for Hamonic as Chia apparently has been working on it since last offseason. I think the deal involves probably one of Eberle or Nuge. I think it would be Eberle/Nuge + Dman for Hamonic and something else. I think the Dman is one of Nurse or Klefbomb.

          So moving forward, if you had Hamonic, Vatanen, and probably Grbya on the right side. Then you had Sekara, Davidson and one of Klefbomb/Nurse on the left, you’d be OK.

          • The Whispererer

            Since you’re obviously joking about that trade proposal, i’m going to guess you see the “something else” coming back has the last name Tavares.

    • TKB2677

      As weird as it might seem, Drouin would have more value than Yak simply because no one knows what Drouin is. There is the chance that Drouin could be no better than Yak or he could be better. So teams would pay more for unknown potential of Drouin.

      With Yak, he’s played enough that teams kind of know what kind of player he is and know what to expect. I think on the right team in the perfect situation, Yak could probably score you 20 goals. Considering how hard it is to score goals in the NHL these days, I don’t see him scoring much more than 20.

      • Rock11

        Thing is I think a lot of teams don’t know for sure what kind of player Yak is either. I’ve watched him for years and I’m not sure. I hate to gift a guy minutes as much as the next fan but there is no question the Oilers haven’t utilized Yak in the optimum way.

        He, and many others with his skill set, are an absolute disaster as a bottom six player. They simply don’t have the defensive chops to get it done nor the pure offensive ability to drag less talented linemates up. The Oilers though have used him almost exclusively in that role minus a few cameos in the top six.

        I am personally bewildered that in another lost year that the braintrust didn’t think it important to give the kid an extended run to see with as much certainty as possible if he could be an effective RW2. Chiarelli as much as said at the beginning of the year that he would use the year to evaluate the team and yet we still didn’t get a conclusive answer on Yak. To me this is the most unforgivable aspect of this year not the missing RHD.

  • MorningOwl

    OK, let’s be serious guys. Yakipov, at best, would be considered a very risky “project” by every team, but more realistically is more likely considered a one dimensional attitude problem that has officially become a “bust”.

    Or, in other words, how the heck would you “sell” another GM on his upside???

    Chiarelli to prospective GM’s:

    “Hey, this kid is a first overall, that’s worth something right? all he needs is a skilled center and skilled forwards to play with and he will be awesome, I promise! Uh, skilled centers and forwards, ya, he needs to play with skilled players. Well, yes, Edmonton has what we like to think are some of the most skilled forwards in the leagues, yes, but he needs to play with OTHER skilled forwards. Attitude problems and no defensive game? Oh, no, that’s a myth, he is an amazing 2 way player that will light it up when paired with skilled forwards! Uh, I mean, OTHER skilled forwards”.

    Prospective GM’s may be interested if you take a huge bad salary in return from a team that needs cap relief… but you can’t seriously think Yak is bringing anything back except salary or bad contracts… and if you think he will, please tell me what the heck your selling point is that would convince another GM to give up something of value for a player who has played 250 games and is what he is…

    • Jack Dupp

      I think the general consensus is that Yak was playing well until both he and McDavid went down. When they both got healthy, Eberle was there. Yak was displaced by Eberle, (a more established player), and Nuge was hurt at this point. They have too many top 6 wingers and not enough skilled centers at any given moment this season due to injury. If all 3 skilled centers had been healthy this may have ended differently. At this point it is what it is. I will add that it is unfortunate that the Oilers started the season with 3 skilled right wings and may enter next season with no skilled natural right wings. Good thing we have the depth at center… Right? RIGHT?!!!!