First up, the Ottawa Senators. Twice now Bryan Murray has made an unexpected move for top flight forward talent. First it was Kyle Turris from Phoenix and more recently Bobby Ryan from Anaheim. Imagine adding Yakupov to the mix. The Sens would boast one hell of a top six with Turris, Ryan, Yakupov, Spezza, Michalek and MacArthur. Wow. Everyone knew Turris and Ryan were due to be shipped out, but no one expected Murray to be the one who pulled off those two deals. Why not go for a third?
The Washington Capitals have not been mentioned at all in the Yakupov rumors, but I wonder, why not? If, let me fix that - IF, this move were to be made, it would either be incredible or a disaster. Ovechkin would still be king, but someone else to tote the puck when he's not on the ice won't hurt their secondary scoring and second powerplay unit. A young countryman just might ignite Ovechkin and bring back even more of that excitement we saw from him earlier in his career. It's clear that he still loves hockey, that he still loves to score. I just wonder if adding a dynamic, young Yakupov would help push Ovechkin to even another level. Or...or...his young attitude rubs off on Ovechkin and pulls his maturity down to dangerous levels. Yikes.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - have you ever seen that show? It's one of my favorites for sure. Unfortunately, the Flyers fit right in with "The Gang". They have jobs, but they don't do them well. They're dysfunctional. A little crazy, right Ray Emery? And the more things changed, the more they stay the same - Paul Holmgren, what say you? Trade, Trade, Trade, sign, sign, sign. Of the 24 skaters and two goaltenders who have suited up for Philly this year, only four of them were drafted by - and have spent their careers with - the Flyers - Giroux, Zac Rinaldo, Sean Coutourier and Tye McGinn. Come on, Paul. Now, it may seem hypocritical that I'm mentioning them here as a potential trade candidate for Yakupov, but what I'm getting at is considering their track record, why NOT the Flyers? They've been linked from very early this season and a potential swap seems like it could happen at any time.
Things are really going well in Anaheim, so I have a hard time believing they would be willing to risk team chemistry by adding the polarizing young star. What keeps them in the conversation is Jonas Hiller. Sure, Edmonton just signed Ilya Bryzgalov, five goals against in his first AHL start, is far from a lock. If the Oilers sweeten the pot enough to make the risk worth it to Anaheim, they just might strike a deal. Comparing Yakupov's trade value to Hiller's sounds ridiculous when looking at it straight up, but there's no way the Oilers do a one-for-one deal, so that's what I mean when I say it's really on the Oilers to make this deal worthwhile. Anaheim doesn't HAVE to do anything. Edmonton may have to.
On to my last guess, the LA Kings. The Kings missed out on the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes in 2010. Yakupov is no Kovalchuk, but adding him to a group that includes Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards up front puts him in a position where he is not the focal point and he has fantastic leadership from which to learn from. Darryl Sutter is known for holding his players accountable in all areas of the ice which may make this sound like an odd fit for Yakupov. The thing is, the Kings already possess the team defense and leadership needed to get Nail over the sophomore slump, regain his confidence, and teach him the game while allowing him to have fun with an incredibly skilled young core.
It's going to be very interesting to see how this all plays out. There is a huge gap between the top and the bottom in the league this year. There are a couple of really good teams. About five or six really bad teams. And everyone else is sitting around the middle. More of the season has to play out before we see some of the chips start to fall, unless someone comes in with a solid offer now to try to take this media frenzy off of Edmonton's hands.