The Edmonton Oilers have drafted four forwards No. 1 overall in the last six seasons. Could they use one of those players to upgrade another part of their roster?
Nail Yakupov, who was taken first overall in 2012 and has been the least productive of Edmonton’s top picks (15 points in 39 games this season), has been involved in trade rumors and speculation entering the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline.
“I know the Edmonton Oilers have had discussions about the availability of Nail Yakupov with other teams,” TSN’s Darren Dreger said during Tuesday’s edition of “Insider Trading.” “I would describe it as somewhat unlikely between now and Monday’s trade deadline. Perhaps more likely in the offseason.
“But the message is simple: If you’re name isn’t Connor McDavid, then you are not an untouchable for the Edmonton Oilers. So there’s work to get done.”
The Oilers need blue line help, which has been the case since Chris Pronger left after the team’s improbable run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. They signed Andrej Sekera as an unrestricted free agent last summer to a long-term deal worth $5.5 million annually, but after him, the blue line talent level drops off considerably.
Young defenseman Griffin Reinhart hasn’t developed as well as expected, either, after the Oilers paid a first-round pick and more to acquire him from the New York Islanders at the 2015 draft.
It makes sense for the Oilers to trade one of their top-six forwards, whether it’s Yakupov, Jordan Eberle or even Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for a first-pairing blueliner. These types of deals usually are easier to make at the draft or in the summer, though, when more teams have salary cap space and the free agency picture is more clear.
Thumbnail photo via Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Feb 13, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov (10) skates during the warmup period against the Winnipeg Jets at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
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