Yakupov Has To Be Worth A Shot

Since being selected first overall in 2012, Nail Yakupov has morphed from potential 30 goal scorer in to the boy nobody wants.


Nobody wants him – and it’s not for lack of trying on Edmonton’s part, nor because the Oilers are asking too much.

And that seems absolutely crazy.

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Speaking on TSN 1260 in Edmonton on Tuesday, NHL Insider Darren Dreger laid out exactly how weak the market for Yakupov was this summer:

“Pete Chiarelli tried to move Nail Yakupov leading up to the trade deadline,” recounted Dreger. “And I’m sure that he kicked a few tyres at the draft in trying to move him again. There just isn’t – and hasn’t been to date, anyway – a market for him.

“Now, the Oilers would tell you that it’s not like they’re asking for an exorbitant or unrealistic return. It’s a draft pick. And it’s not a first, second – and at one point they were asking for a third, but it’s probably not even that anymore.”

A third round pick.

To put that in to context, Boston gave up a third round pick in 2017 to get Zac Rinaldo.

Yakupov has undoubtedly struggled to establish himself as a force in the NHL. After scoring 17 goals and 31 points as a rookie during the truncated 2012/13 season, the 22-year-old has bounced around the Oilers line up and been called out on a number of occasions by coaches, media and fans.

Question marks hang over his character, and now it seems he is worth less than, well, almost nothing given the percentage chances of turning a third pick (or lower) in to a bona fide NHLer.

But with just one year (ONE YEAR!!!) left on his current contract, carrying a cap hit of $2.5 million, surely it’s worth the relatively low risk of giving up a third round pick (or lower) to acquire someone that scored 80 goals and 170 points in 107 OHL games to elevate himself in to that coveted first overall spot?

If he bombs, or he really does stink as a human being, simply don’t qualify him next summer and walk away.

Are there really twenty nine teams out there who couldn’t use a little help up front? Who couldn’t take a shot on someone who could at the very least be a 20 goal scorer for them if given the chance? That seems hard to believe. Especially after watching numerous others receive second or even third chances.

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Yakupov appeared rejuvenated playing alongside Connor McDavid last season. Hitting the ice alongside a generational talent will of course do that to a guy, but the ability to feed off of an elite playmaker made a difference to Yakupov’s game. His skill set suggests that pairing him with even a moderately talented setup man would surely yield some positive results?

Plus it’s not like a change of scene hasn’t re-started a few careers through NHL history. It’s why clubs hand out those second (or third) chances to players.

But ultimately, it’s all about giving someone that opportunity.

Could the New York Islanders not find a home for Yakupov along side John Tavares and Andrew Ladd now that Kyle Okposo has departed?

With Valeri Nichushkin headed for the KHL, is there an opening in Dallas?

Are Vancouver drowning in so much talent they can pass on Yakupov’s services?

There are pros and cons to any such move. Some teams literally cannot afford to take on $2.5 million of cap next season without shifting something back the other way. Others likely don’t have a place for Yakupov due to existing depth. That’s the NHL in the cap era.

But, again, it’s hard to imagine there really, truly are twenty nine teams out there who can’t find a home for a former first overall pick who offers such low risk with potentially high reward.


About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on October 4, 2016, in Edmonton Oilers, NHL and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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