For the second time in a few months Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has traded away a former #1 overall draft pick, sending RW Nail Yakupov to St. Louis in exchange for a minor league prospect and a conditional draft choice. At least when the team moved Taylor Hall, they did it to fill a dire need by acquiring right-shooting defenseman Adam Larsson. With yesterday’s trade of Yakupov, the Oilers simply appear to have made the best deal possible in order to satisfy both the player’s and team’s desire to move on from one another.
While Yakupov has failed to live up to his superstar billing, the trade is still notable on a number of fronts and there has been no shortage of opinions of the deal. Here’s a roundup of some of those reactions.
- David Staples of the Edmonton Journal feels the two sides failed each other: Yakupov for his lackluster practice habits and for failing to work on his two-way game and the Oilers for too frequently playing the skilled winger with weak teammates. Ultimately Staples feels it was time to move on as it was made evident head coach Todd McLellan didn’t see Yakupov as “part of a winning equation.”
- Considering the relatively low price paid to acquire Yakupov – Zach Pochiro and a conditional pick – the deal is a classic low risk investment for the Blues, as Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Hochman compares the trade to that which sent another former #1 pick, Erik Johnson from St. Louis to Colorado. At the time of that trade, Johnson also had yet to live up to his lofty status as the top pick in his draft year, but since moving on to the Avalanche, he has developed into a pretty good defenseman. It should be noted that unlike the Oilers, the Blues received a sizable package in return that included Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart. Hochman also calculates that if Yakupov follows the same sort of career trajectory as Johnson, the Blues will be pleasantly surprised. He points out that even if the worst case scenario plays out – an output of 8 – 10 goals – then Yakupov will have sufficiently replaced the expected production of Vladimir Sobotka, who was expected to return to the NHL but now appears stuck in the KHL.
- Even though the Oilers received very little in return aside from cap savings, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Sun believes the trade is an instance of addition by subtraction. Matheson points out that the Oilers coaches simply did not trust Yakupov to play a responsible two-way game and that his offense simply wasn’t enough to offset his poor defensive play. The lack of consistent linemates also played a role in Yakupov’s struggles, according to Matheson, and although he found good chemistry with Connor McDavid for a brief time last season, McLellan was of the belief a former #1 overall pick should have been able to make the players around him better.
- The Oilers may have sold low on Yakupov and in return did not acquire any assets likely to help the team today, but The Score’s Sean O’Leary says the team still has a brighter future today after the trade. O’Leary also argues that Oilers fans will soon forget Yakupov, even if the talented winger does realize his vast potential in St. Louis. Lastly, O’Leary reasons that with McDavid now leading the way and after trading away the likes of Taylor Hall and Yakupov, the Oilers have changed their culture for the better.