Staten Island, N.Y. - Once again the rumor has surfaced that the New York Rangers are looking to make a deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Since last summer many of us have seen this rumor surface quite a few times. First it was with stud winger, Taylor Hall & now the rumor is Nail Yakupov. This time it actually holds substance. Monday night Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe & Craig MacTavish were in MSG “scouting”. We all know Messier has ties with the Rangers and Oilers. Lowe is the President of Operations for the Oilers, & MacTavish is the GM of the Oilers. In case you didn’t know.
Is it totally preposterous to think this deal is possible? No. Not at all. Yakupov has said this season that he was unhappy with his playing time in Edmonton. The Rangers could sure use another person to help put the puck in the net. The 20 year old Russian first overall pick is struggling thus far this season. In 13 games he’s only managed 1 goal and 2 assists & is a team worst -12. He’s averaging almost 17 minutes a game also. Yakupov has also been skating with the scratches which raises more eyebrows.
What would Edmonton want in return?
- Well Edmonton is in the cellar of the NHL, only 3 points more than the Buffalo Sabres. They give up close to 4 goals a game, and 31 shots per game. So basically, they need either a defenseman or goaltender. They’ll also probably want someone with veteran leadership if they could get one. So that leaves you with Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman & Cam Talbot. Stralman doesn’t really carry any value that the Oilers would be interested in. Talbot has been a solid backup and played well when Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t been available so I don’t see him moving anywhere. So that leaves Dan Girardi & Michael Del Zotto.
Girardi becomes an unrestricted FA at the end of this season, and for those of you familiar with the Rangers salary CAP know that this team is in some trouble come July. They’re probably not going to be able to resign everybody that they need to so some players are going to find new homes. G could be one of them. Girardi could attract the Oilers because he is a leader on and off the ice. He’s fearless and knows how to play the game from the back-end. Something they could use desperately right now. As Anthony S. stated for NYRFullTilt.com Girardi has struggled so far this season adjusting the Alain Vingeault’s new style of play. AV has also called him out on it. So he seems like the prime candidate in my opinion but you never know.
Michael Del Zotto picked the right night to have a good game, with Messier, Lowe & MacTavish in the building so maybe that caught their eyes but he’s had to many ups and downs to bring in a really high value. He does have a great offensive mind from the blue line, & he’s still young with good hockey years ahead of him. But the Oilers are a team that need help defensively first.
Now lets look at the Pros v Cons of trying to acquire Nail Yakupov:
- He’s a former 1st overall pick . He comes with a natural ability to put the puck in the net.
- He could help the Rangers 2nd or 3rd lines with depth scoring.
- He’s fast.
- In his rookie campaign last year he had 31 pts in 48 GP.
-He’s young ! Only 20 years old so they’res a lot of room to improve and the ceiling for this kid is very high.
- He fits the system. AV wants to push the pace and move uptempo, well somehow with his abilities is certainly capable of doing that.
- He’s lazy defensively. I think most Russian/European hockey players get known for this so it doesn’t come as a surprise (Alex Semin, Nikolai Zherdev). They just want to be in the spotlight for the fame sometimes.
- We’ve seen him say publicly that he was very unhappy with his situation and his usage on the ice. Upset with his playing time.
- The KHL exists. This may be the biggest of the cons. We’ve seen many players up and leave the NHL to go play in the KHL, look at Ilya Kovalchuck for example. Pavel Datsyuk & Alexander Ovechkin also stated last season that if the lockout had continued they were going to stay in the KHL and possibly not return either. Once this kids rookie contracts is up he may decide to up and leave as well.
- His attitude isn’t great either.
So the real question becomes, With Yakupov being such a high risk high reward kind of player, do you take the risk and try to make a deal for him? I think the answer is yes. Edmonton is a huge hockey city, but a place like New York has all the spotlights, you can’t get away with things as easy because fan bases will resent you at the drop of a dime (Michal Roszival, Wade Redden, ect). The Rangers also have a lot of veterans to right this kids ship. Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Dominic Moore, Marc Staal, even Henrik Lundqvist, they all have the ability to change the way he thinks about the game. We’ve already seen Alain Vingeault show that he doesn’t play games either.
I think the reward is higher than the risk. Make him start to enjoy the fun in the game again. We saw something similar happen with Alex Ovechkin 2 years ago. He just dropped off and many said he was too involved in the fame, the money,the cars, the celebrity image.& Then boom he comes back and lights up the league like the old Alexander Ovechkin we all enjoyed watching (except when he played your team). Plus the kid is only TWENTY YEARS OLD! People tend to forget with professional athletes that some of them are still kids. As an pro athlete you get looked at as an icon, a role model. But when you’re only 19-20,21 years old you’re still trying to be a young adult. You’re still learning your ways in life. So sometimes you have to cut the kids some slack.
But for now, these are all just rumors. Messier, Lowe and MacTavish were also at the Islanders v Capitals game last night so you never know what could happen. But if the opportunity arose to pull the trigger for this kid & the price was right (Girardi and a prospect or draft pick) i’d do it in a heart beat.
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