|Nail Yakupov. Image Credit: thehockeywriters.com|
Breaking news today is that the Chicago Blackhawks are working on a trade that will bring in former 2012 #1 draft pick, Nail Yakupov from the Edmonton Oilers. While this may be exciting news for Blackhawks fans, it comes as no surprise to Oilers fans. Already entering his 5th season in the league, the Russian 23-year-old winger has failed to live up to his expectations in Edmonton. #1 draft picks (such as Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby) are usually expected to come in and contribute right away. Yakupov was no different but has failed to live up to this task. The Oilers landed the 1st overall pick in the NHL draft three years in a row (2010, 2011, 2012) selecting Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov. The former two players have played consistently better than Yakupov has for Edmonton. Some critics blame the Oilers organization on Yakupov's failures whereas others simply say he was a draft bust. Regardless, it looks as if a new sweater will be on Yakupov in the near future and the Blackhawks are likely the suitors.
With this trade comes complications. These include Chicago's cap space, Edmonton's willingness to accept what Chicago has to offer, and what the Blackhawks decided will be a fair-market trade for Yakupov. Chicago only has a little under 2 million in cap space and Yakupov's contract guarantees 2.5 million. Therefore, in order for the Blackhawks to make a trade for Yakupov, they will either have to trade away a player that will shed enough salary for them to absorb Yakupov's contract, or Edmonton will have to retain some of his salary. Reports have made it clear that Chicago will likely have to give up a draft pick (2nd round?) and a star-AHL player in order to get Yakupov; especially to have Edmonton retain some of his salary. But will the Oilers think that he is worth more than that?. Many believe that Yakupov just needs a change in scenery to become an elite scorer, but is simply changing teams enough for this possible draft bust to turn into an effective player?
***UPDATE***: Yakupov was traded to the St. Louis Blues on October 7th for Zach Pochiro and a conditional 3rd round pick (which will become a 2nd round pick if Yakupov scores at least 15 goals for St. Louis).