By Bobby Bauders
Back in 2012 Nail Yakupov was selected 1st overall at the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh. His future looked bright. The Edmonton Oilers looked on their way up. Now, 4 years later in 2016, the 22-year-old Yakupov is falling miles away from expectations, and the Oilers are looking to dish him, and the Philadelphia Flyers may be interested.
Yakupov is coming off his least productive year in the National Hockey League. In 60 games played he had only 8 goals and 23 points. That’s a far cry from his rookie season where he played only 48 games scoring 17 goals and 31 points, arguably his most productive season of his young NHL career.
So why would the Flyers be interested in what seems to be a declining Yakupov? 2 main points: low cost and the change of scenery.
Yakupov comes at a low price in value and salary. His current salary is $2.5 million until he becomes a Restricted Free Agent next offseason. Flyers currently have about $10.5 million in cap space before all their re-signings.
The second point is the change of scenery. Obviously forwards have been having a difficult time in Edmonton. They have a top-6-forward core of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle, and Nail Yakupov and they still can’t find a way to win. Something is very wrong with that picture. Philly may be the change Yakupov needs to boost himself to the potential that he possess. No one’s denying he has skill, he’s just not utilizing that skill.
The rumored deal would be Yakupov to Philly and defensive prospect Travis Sandheim, who was their first round pick in 2014, plus a pick to Edmonton. Given the value of Sanheim the pick would likely be on of Philly’s third or their fourth. This would make sense given Philadelphia’s cluster of defensive prospects and Edmonton’s lack thereof. Sandheim is a great puck moving denseman that shows excellent promise in the future. This would also address the Flyers’ lack of young talented forwards.
If the Flyers believe they can turn around Yakupov’s career, this deal may happen. Edmonton may ask for a little more value coming their way given that Yakupov was their 1st overall pick, but with his lack of success in Alberta they’re going to have to settle, or let him walk as a RFA next year.