Would Trading Nail Yakupov Be Too Bold For Oilers?

That one word has come up again….bold.  Oilers’ fans heard it all summer as Craig MacTavish examined all possibilities to improve the hockey club by making that “bold” move.  But time and time again the market never presented the opportunity to allow Mac-T to pull off the move.

Fast forward to October and three games into the season, MacTavish is again wanting to be, yes you guessed it, bold.  Realizing that the Oilers blue line is mediocre at best, the rookie GM would like to make a splash in the trade market and land himself a stud defenceman. But would trading Nail Yakupov be too bold of a move for the Oilers to make?

High end talent will be a necessity as part of any package in order to pry a top-two defenceman from any club.  The Toronto Maple Leafs have already said a high profile prospect or legitimate goal scorer must be in the deal if any team wants to acquire Jake Gardiner.

Yakupov has gotten off to a slow start by his standards this season but part of the reason could be his diminished ice-time under head coach Dallas Eakins.  Every time Yakupov gets the puck and picks up a head of steam behind him, he makes something happen. Excitement fills the air. It was witnessed repeatedly last season when he was allowed to free wheel as part of Ralph Krueger’s regular lineup.

Now appearing in a more reserved role, Eakins has said that Yakupov is still trying “find himself on the ice and is battling the highs and lows.”  Does that mean he’ll see more ice if his game turns around?  Does his game need to turn around or does Eakins not buy the type of player he is?

Some Oilers fans feel that Yakupov could be traded this year, given he has one-year remaining on his contract after this season and the high flying Russian will be in store for a healthy raise.   Whether or not he’s part of the Oilers long-term plans will remain to be seen if he sticks around this season.

Trading the first overall pick less than two years after drafting him would certainly qualify as bold.  MacTavish may learn that parting ways with a talent like Yakupov is necessary if he truly wants to add that missing piece on the blue line.  The old saying rings true that if you want to get something of good value you have to part ways with something of good value.

Yakupov for Gardiner, straight up isn’t worth it for the Oilers who would deserve more in the deal if they were to ever seriously think about trading number 64.

MacTavish could surely fetch a king’s ransom for Yakupov, but should the Oilers even consider trading him in the first place?  He’s a pure goal scorer, a rarity to find in this league and despite his slow start this season, the ceiling is too high with him to even think about removing him from the roster.

Then again, what Mac-T considers to be bold and what the fans definition is may be two different opinions.  Some felt that trading captain Shawn Horcoff was bold while others were waiting for a Cory Schneider type deal that would have cost the Oilers their top two draft picks and grade A prospect.

Trading Nail Yakupov would be bold and you could argue it would go beyond bold.  Parting ways with a piece like that would help solve the blue line, an Achilles heal for this club until it is addressed.

Do you think the Oilers would be too bold if they traded Yakupov?  Leave your comments below.



Tags: Edmonton Oilers Nail Yakupov

  • jdude

    i’d trade him for a legitimate top # 1 Defensemen. Gardiner is NOT even close to what they are looking for in return (at least I hope so). Out of all the young guns on the oilers Yak would be the first i’d trade. He clearly has major issues with his game when you watch him, and i’d rather them keep the Canadian boys over him.

    • jdude

      that being said.. i’d like to see Yak grow as an oiler and round out his game because he could be a true superstar. Oilers will have some UFA’S to look at next year for their top D (dion phaneuf), and not making a bold move this year might be the best thing

      • Derek Stykalo

        Jdude, like I said above, I don’t think Yakupov is being utilized properly and maybe it’s because his game is struggling according to Eakins. He’s so gifted offensively that dealing straight up for Gardiner would be a steal for the Leafs. Thanks for reading and the comments.

    • Ryan Bell

      Explain the issues in his game that can’t be fixed? He just turned 20 years old. I’d move Eberle all day before Yak. If Ebs got traded id bet anything his numbers would drop unless he gets paired with guys like Hall and RNH. Ebs is as good as he is because of Hall and RNH.

      • jdude

        Well instead of listing ALL the “issues” i’ll just state the two things he’s good at : shooting and skating… and he’s got heart.
        I never said the issues can’t be fixed but i doubt Yak will ever be a good two-way guy.

        Yak will probably end up being better than EBS, but that also means you can get more in return for YAK in a trade, while also keeping your core canadien boys.

        i’m not a YAK hater but the oilers need to make a move for a goalie and/or # 1 D man. With Hemsky being pretty much worthless in a trade, YAK would be the first guy i’d be looking at as BAIT.

        It will be interesting to see what happens to the Oilers TOP 6 this year. Once Hemsky is gone were looking at Hall-Hopkins-Eberle, Yak-Gags-Perron. This looks like a lethal top 6 to me but if they could trade say Yak,EBS, Gags or Hall for a proven #1 D or Elite goalie (THAT WE NEEEEED), we could get a power forward with SOME SIZE to fill the top 6 void (Jesse Joensuu perhaps).

        Sad to say this rebuild is not over, but this is the last year for sure.

  • Cody Anderson

    I don’t think trading Yak would be bold, I think it would be stupid. Especially if the return was Gardner. I would not trade Yak for Gardner and our choice of Reimer or Bernier.
    I think he is the best goal scorer on the team, and if paired with Hall or another elite talent he may very well end up with the best numbers on the team.
    It is 3 games in and I don’t think there is any question that our D as is, will be much stronger than last year. Couple that with the fact that 90% of our top prospects are on D and basically you would be mortgaging the future for a stop gap Dman.
    I think in 2 years and maybe as soon as next year our top pairing will be Nurse and J Schultz. I would guess Nurse is 205 lbs+ by next season and with both of them having another year of experience it may happen that soon.
    A second pairing of Ference and Petry looks like a high end second pairing.
    We have loads of third pairing guys and lots of prospect to back fill as people move along.

    • Derek Stykalo

      Good comments Cody. I’m not sold on Gardiner either but with Eakins having a connection with him, it wouldn’t surprise me if he wanted him, purely speculation of course. I don’t think Yakupov is being utilized properly or to his full potential. Like I said, he’s a pure goal scorer and those are a rarity to find, meaning if the Oil were to consider trading him they better get someone better than just Gardiner. Thanks for the comments.

    • Ryan Bell

      Agreed. Trade a guy like Hemsky for a solid 2nd string D. Schultz and Nurse is a beauty top D pair.

  • Cody Anderson

    Does anyone thing Gardner is currently better than either J Schultz or Petry?
    He is a soft smaller offensive defenseman. If he could be had for nothing of course you would pick him up, but I think we already have too many of this type on the team.
    With Marcinin, coming up in the next 2 years I think we already have a bigger stronger version of Gardner in our system.

  • Brandon Deacon

    Never!!! Yak city is just under construction! I don’t know why you even considered posting this article and planting seeds!!!!!

  • Ryan Griffin

    What are you smoking? And can I have some, cuz you are obviously trippin. Yakupov – the kid who in his rookie year on the worst club in prefessional hockey tied for the rookie scoring lead? That Yakupov? traded for who? Gardiner? What the F*$k has he proven? Unloading a telent like Yakupov who actually seems to love to play here before he has even come close to reaching his potential is asinine.

    You should have your typewriter taken away from you for writing such a “bold” and stupid article.

    If the Oilers trade Yaupov for Gardiner there will be riots and I will burn Rexall place to the ground…Why dont we trade Hall for Hal Gill? Or how about Nuge for Jake Muzzin? Or Eberle for Joe Shmoenobodycares?

    Yak for Gardiner lol. I finally get it now..You’re a comedian lol…well done, you had me going there

    • Derek Stykalo

      Thanks for reading!

  • James Crockett

    There are very few trades I would consider moving Yakupov for. Chara, Letang, Doughty, Karlson… These guys for sure. But their teams wouldn’t move them for Yak alone, and they wouldn’t really be a good fit within the Oilers salary structure which surely sees $6M as the top end. Seth jones could fit since he’s young and an RFA, and would likely fit within the salary structure moving forward. That said he’s young and wouldn’t be nearly as effective on the top pairing without Weber alongside to help him out.

    More likely the Oilers would look to have Yak improve throughout the season and with Hemsky playing first line minutes he’s being showcased for a trade. Package him along with a defenseman prospect and you should be able to get a top pair pending UFA defender mid season. By then the Oilers can truly judge whether it’s a defenseman or a goalie that they will be wanting anyway. And if near the deadline the Oilers are truly out of it Smyth may be offered to a cup contender for depth so he can make his run for the cup.

    • jdude

      no body wants smyth lol

      • James Crockett

        I’m not so sure no one would want Smyth at the deadline. Especially in the East where teams seem to have a habit of bringing in vets for the room who can bring their experience to bear. He’d look good for a later round pick which would give the OIlers a selection at the draft, give Smyth a last chance at the dance, and the acquiring team a vet.

        He may not have the leg speed any more but will go to the net, and can play a checking role outside of some powerplay time. And in the case of injury he can fill in further up the lineup.

        • jdude

          no. there is no cup contender out there that would want smyth man. just no.

    • Derek Stykalo

      It’s obvious we’re not getting any of the players you mentioned first. Weber would be lovely but his salary would be a difficult one to swallow but if Hemsky is gone after this year, that’s $5 million that frees up. Of course the Phaneuf rumors will rage on but would you give up $7 million and sign him?

      • James Crockett

        I like Phaneuf, but again I’m not sure his salary fits within the structure setup by the team. In fact, based on that structure I doubt that the Oilers will find a No 1 Defender that isn’t an RFA. So if they were willing to open up the salary structure some then perhaps Phaneuf deserves a look since he can play in all 3 zones, and can log tough minutes.

        • Derek Stykalo

          That’s a good point about RFA and what you’d give up to sign him, bringing in the option of signing an UFA ie: Phaneuf. It’ll be interesting to see if the Leafs don’t re-sign him before the free agency period opens up next summer. If they move Gardiner and someone like Liles then I see him staying and making the crop of defense UFA a thin one.

    • Ryan Bell

      First of all, no one wants Smyth. Second of all, why the F would you trade Yak, a 20 yr old future star with a 120 point potential for old man Chara? Chara is garbage now. I’d rather take Dougie Hamilton over Chara any day. All the other D you mentioned are studs, but I still wouldn’t move Yak. He’s a franchise player and a game breaker.

      Maybe trade Hemsky for Chara+.

      • James Crockett

        Fair enough on your assessment of Chara’s value compared to Yak with respect to the points of their careers. My list was more of an example of the level of defenseman I’d want in return.

        I can accept your liking Hamilton more though from what I’ve seen I’m as not impressed with his game as you are. And if the idea is to improve the team now and over the next couple of seasons a player like Chara would do so more than Hamilton at this point.

        Regarding Hemsky for Chara+, I see where you’re going with this but in the end Chara will remain a Bruin if that’s all the Oilers were to offer.

  • Icyroad

    All players need to be on the table except the Nuge and Schultz. No team has won without two guys like that on the team.

    • Ryan Bell

      RNH, Hall, Yak & Schultz should be untouchable IMO. Build around them.

  • Oilers42

    There’s a thin line between bold and stupid and u just crossed it

    • Derek Stykalo

      thanks for reading!

  • Dave

    Good God, why the hell are people saying this? With prospects like Nurse, Klefbom and Maricin we don’t need to panic about our D. If we do make a move why the hell would we trade Yak for Gardiner when we have Schultz and those prospects coming. If we trade anyone it should be Klefbom and maybe a forward – not one of the kids and a draft pick. Stop. Please. It would be stupid to trade Yak unless we get an elite number one established D man.

    • Derek Stykalo

      Like I said, they could request a king’s ransom for Yakupov in any deal that would fetch you more than Gardiner in return. If they were willing to deal him, not saying they are or should. IF. It’s the only way they’d get a number one D man like you said.

  • bojowork

    OIlers could try to swing a deal for brayden coburn- smyth + hemsky + omark + arcabello/3rd round for coburn. Thoughts?

    • jdude


  • bojowork

    oilers also need a physical presense like a power forward upfront. Brouwer from washington for hemsky+potter+omark

    • jdude

      problem is no-one can take hemskys contract.. everyone agrees they need a physical presence..

    • jdude

      arcebello is starting to look like some trade bait or a package deal

  • Ryan Bell

    Why is everyone worried? Were four games in. NEVER trade Yak. He will be a 40-50+ goal scorer within 2-3 year. Potential 100 pointer and IMO an 85 point guy for sure. MacT would be crazy to trade him.

    If anything, trade Eberle. IMO Ebs needs guys like Hall and RNH to make him better. The 3 lottery players (Hall, RNH & Yak) can make it happen no matter what. Those 3 make everyone around them better where Ebs is the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, Ebs is a stud sniper. Just saying IMO Ebs should be moved before any of the three lottery players. Plus Ebs would and could bring back a lofty return.

    Maybe Eberle for Morgan Rielly+
    Eberle for Roman Josi++ or even Seth Jones.

    Nashville is stacked on D and they def can use some offence. None of these deals will probably happen but just throwing ideas around. What do you guys think?

    • jdude

      Seth Jones for Eberle would be a huge steel for the Oilers but I don’t think Nashville would even consider it. I doubt they’d even take YAK for Jones tbh. U’d think Nashville would be the perfect trade partner for Oilers tho and they may even think about trading Pekka Rinne or Weber.
      I agree with you about not worrying though. There is going to be a hefty pool of top free agents including # 1D and goalies next summer plus prospects like NURSE being NHL ready. Oilers may need to just wait another year before their team is FULLY rebuilt, while still competing for a playoff spot this year!
      P.S. IMO your view of Eberle is totally off. He definately is better when playing with top players but he is an elite playmaker. I think EBs would have alot more sucess on a third line than Hall or YAK

  • MostInterestingManinTheWorld

    MacTavish would fire eakens before trading Yakupov. #Fact.