Rumors swirl that the Philadelphia Flyers are talking about trading for talented but so far underwhelming Nail Yakupov. Does round 3 of this rumor make sense?
Perhaps the newest, biggest rumor surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers is that they have interest in Edmonton Oilers forward Nail Yakupov. The main source of this rumor, as far as I know, is Eklund at HockeyBuzz.com, but I have seen it discussed elsewhere by now. According to these rumors, the Flyers are in competition with the Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild to acquire the former number one overall draft pick.
First thing, we’ve seen this movie before. Go all the way back to October 2013, and it was rumored the Flyers would acquire Yakupov and Hemsky, possibly giving back a cornerstone player. Jump ahead 15 months to December 2014, and Eklund is again beating the drum of Yakupov to the Flyers. Now we’re at round 3 of this basic deal, so either there’s legs here, or Eklund is playing a long con on all of us (always a possibility).
Focusing on the player, Yakupov was the number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft. He’s a 5’11” right wing, who in terms of style, is definitely of the skilled sniper variety. He jumped straight to the NHL at the age of 18, and actually had his best NHL season that very year scoring 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games of the lockout-shortened season.
Since then, he has stagnated. He’s been basically a 30-point player the last 3 seasons, but those are in full 80-game seasons. He’s also earned a truly epic aggregate plus-minus of -84 in those 3 season. That’s not very impressive for a now 22-year old number one pick, but in hindsight the 2012 NHL draft is looking pretty weak overall. Additionally, his big rookie season was boosted by an unsustainable shooting percentage of 21%, while his shooting percentage the last 3 seasons has steadily fallen to 9.0%, 7.3%, and 6.3% last year.
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The case for Yakupov is that the talent is still there, but he’s been in the young forward purgatory that is Edmonton. The Oilers have had so many talented young forwards kicking around, but the mix and winning environment has been notably absent. Furthermore, a sniper is what the Philadelphia Flyers organization and lineup is lacking the most.
Now the million dollar question comes; is this worth the rumored packaged of Travis Sanheim and a pick? Sanheim was the #17 pick in the 2014 draft, and has since seen his stock shoot up. He has yet to play much professional hockey, but in a recent ranking of top 30 NHL prospects at Today’s Slapshot, Sanheim came in at #26. He’s a smooth-skating offensive defenseman, but he’s probably not NHL ready yet, and faces a logjam of Flyers defense prospects with Samuel Morin, Ivan Provorov, Phillippe Myers, Robert Hagg, and the now-arrived Shayne Gostisbehere.
Should the Philadelphia Flyers deal a young, promising defenseman from a position of organizational strength to address an organizational weakness? It really comes down to how much the Flyers believe a change of scenery will benefit Yakupov, and that’s always tough to predict. It worked with Mason, it worked with Del Zotto, but it didn’t work great with Sam Gagner.
Personally, I’m a bit skeptical.