Oilers Trade Rumors: Yakupov to Buffalo for Vanek & Miller

According to Luke Fox of Sportsnet, the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres are in trade talks that would essentially result in a blockbuster type deal.

Fox reports that the Oilers would send forward Nail Yakupov to the Sabres for netminder Ryan Miller and forward Thomas Vanek. The story also has another high grade prospect going to Buffalo as part of the deal.

While the source of the information is not provided, it’s been reported by Bob McKenzie that Oilers GM Craig MacTavish has been working the phones in a consistent manner lately, trying to figure out what the market looks like to acquire a goalie.

We’ve heard all along that the Sabres will consider moving Miller but it would be a hefty price tag, preferably in the form of young talent coupled with prospects.

Early reaction to this deal from Oil Country is negative and rightfully so.  Both Miller and Vanek are set to become unrestricted free-agents after this season.  Meaning the Oilers could give up the promising sniper in Yakupov along with another high prized prospect for less than a full season of Miller and Vanek.  Thanks but no thanks Darcy Regier. Any deal has to benefit the Oilers both short-term and long-term and this one doesn’t meet the requirements.

The Sabres GM is said to be on the hot seat and would like to trade his two greatest assets in an attempt to turn around the Sabres season, or at least make the future a little brighter. But Edmonton is best to stay away from both Miller and Vanek and the reasoning is obvious.

Aside from the threat of free-agency, Miller is 33-years old and his best year’s may be behind him.  Yes he’s a legitimate number one netminder who can steal you games that you have no business winning and yes he makes the Oilers immediately better.  So where’s the problem right?

For one, he has a limited no-trade clause that states he can pick up to eight teams that he could veto a trade to.  It’s uncertain if Edmonton is on his “no-fly zone” list but you’d have to think he would want to go to a contender if he’s going to be traded.  Then again, not many contending teams need a goalie this early in the year.

Second, what would it cost Edmonton to re-sign him this summer if they did acquire him?  Coming off a 5-year deal worth over $31 million or $6.25 million annually, Miller would not give the Oilers a home town discount and could seek a similar deal to finish his playing career with security.

The Oilers captured lightning in a bottle with an aging Dwayne Roloson and perhaps the belief is they can do the same with Miller. The difference being is that Roloson spent most of his career as a backup and had plenty of fuel left in his tank to play superb hockey despite being on the downside of his career.  Miller has always served as the Sabres number one man, consistently playing over 3000 minutes a season and the wear and tear could catch up with him.

In Vanek, the Oilers would get a 29-year old playmaker who has scored 20 or more goals every year he’s been in the league.  He’s talented and would bolster an already heavy offensive lineup in Edmonton, but that’s not where the problem is.  Pair that with the fact that he’s making over $7 million in salary and will surely cash in on the open market and suddenly the Oilers need to be wary of acquiring such a talent.

There is no need to get into what Yakupov brings to the table.  The sky is the limit for this kid’s potential in the NHL and despite what appears to be having fallen out of favor with head coach Dallas Eakins, Edmonton would be foolish to part ways with him for a pair of potential pricey unrestricted free-agents.

It’s likely that MacTavish will have to part ways with one of the team’s young stars and all the rumors of late have Yakupov involved.  Let’s just hope that this rumor stays as such and it never comes to fruition.

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Edmonton Oilers Nail Yakupov Ryan Miller Thomas Vanek

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