Nail Yakupov requested to be dealt before the trade deadline, a look at what trading Jordan Eberle for a defenseman could do to the Oilers roster and more.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis cited a report from Igor Eronko of Russia’s Sports-Express claiming Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov requested a trade before the recent NHL trade deadline. Yakupov claims about eight teams were interested but something went wrong before the deadline. Yakupov also has no interest of playing in the KHL and is hopeful a trade could take place this summer. Willis speculates the Oilers are likely to get back another young player who’s also struggled early in his NHL career.
David Staples lists the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets among the clubs most in need of a second-line right wing next season.
Willis also recently examined the effect trading right wing Jordan Eberle for a top-pairing defenseman would have upon the rest of the Oilers’ lineup, opening a hole at right wing and center.
Staples, meanwhile, recently suggested the Oilers shouldn’t trade its top pick at this year’s draft to acquire a top defenseman. One reason is the effect such a move would have upon the club’s efforts to protect players in a potential expansion draft next year. The player selected with the draft pick would be exempted from the expansion draft, while an established player acquired via trade would have to be protected.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to hear Yakupov’s reaction to this report. Sometimes Russian players claim they were misquoted in interviews given to media sources in their homeland. However, if he stands by the comments, there’s no doubt he’ll be moved in the offseason. I daresay the reason he wasn’t moved before the trade deadline was the asking price was too expensive. I concur with Willis’ assessment as to the type of return the Oilers can expect for Yakupov. For all his promise, his trade value isn’t that high right now. He’d have to be part of a larger package to fetch a bigger return.
As for the potential destinations, I’d rule out the Flames because of the rivalry between the two clubs and I doubt their management has serious interest in Yakupov. Same goes for the Canucks. Recent reports out of Vancouver suggest they’ll pursue bigger fish this summer, like Boston’s Loui Eriksson. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a lot on his plate and much will depend upon whether he gets Steven Stamkos re-signed. The Canadiens reportedly had little, if any, interest in Yakupov before the trade deadline. Maybe that changes this summer, but I wouldn’t count on it.
The Islanders are likely to give more playing time to their younger wingers so I don’t see a fit there. The Penguins are squeezed for cap space next season, so the Oilers must take back some salary for this to happen. The more likely destinations are rebuilding clubs Hurricanes, Sabres, Devils and perhaps the Jets.
As for trading Eberle for a defenseman this summer, I still believe Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the likely trade candidate. Staples makes a great point regarding the consequences of moving out their first-round pick (especially if it’s first overall again) for an established defenseman and the effect it could have upon their player-protection plans for the expansion draft. It remains to be seen, however, if management shares that opinion.