Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, asked for a trade out of Edmonton before the deadline, according to an interview with a Russian outlet. It didn’t happen, obviously, but Yakupov isn’t happy in Edmonton and expects to be shipped out this summer.
Here’s the translation, via Puck Daddy:
When you came to a point to get traded, were there any grounds to think it would happen?
“Absolutely. As far as I know trade has come very close. I’ve been out of a suitcase. Me and my agent Igor Larionov were given permission to talk to other teams. A number of teams were interested. But at the last moment something went wrong. And I’m still here.”
It was reported Montreal, Winnipeg, New Jersey and Carolina were interested. Which one was interested the most and which would you prefer?
“The list of teams that were interested was bigger, I could name couple more of them. And I don’t think it makes sense to discuss which team could get me or where I would like to be moved. This did not happen, and I’m still on the Oilers. Let’s see what will happen in the summer. There will be a lot more time to negotiate, and it will be much easier to make the trade happen. But ultimately everything depends on the Oilers.”
Did you request the trade?
“Yes, I did. But not in person, my job is just to play hockey. My agent was dealing with this.”
Yakupov’s an interesting case, in an interesting situation. He hasn’t been the goalscorer many thought he’d be, though he’s certainly improved in other aspects of his game. It’s tough to know how many of his issues are tied to being on an Oiler team that can’t seem to do much right other than collect talent at forward, but Yakupov, still just 22 years old, feels like an excellent candidate for a guy who needs a change of scenery.
Not that Yakupov is blameless, but he’s never had consistent extended time as a top-six guy, thanks to the glut of forwards in Edmonton. He played well with Connor McDavid earlier this year when Jordan Eberle was injured, but was immediately bumped back to the third line upon Eberle’s return. He probably deserves time on a top line, and with a low-commitment contract that runs one more season at $2.5 million, he’ll probably get it somewhere else.