As often happens in the Twitterverse and blogosphere, a pretty harmless tweet set off a frenzy among Rangers fans over the last 36 hours.
A few writers noted that Edmonton president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM Craig MacTavish and special adviser Mark Messier(!) were in attendance for New York’s 2-1 loss to the Ducks on Monday night. Rangers fans immediately began to wonder which Oilers might interest the Rangers. Larry Brooks fed the embers gasoline with a column debating if trading for Nail Yakupov or Ales Hemsky would appeal to Rangers GM Glen Sather. Stemming off Brooks’ post, the Edmonton Journal ran a series of articles about the possibility of a Yakupov to New York blockbuster and discussed possible packages that might interest the Oilers including the likes of Chris Kreider and Michael Del Zotto. And the rumormongers took it from there.
Sure, it’s probably pretty likely that Sather and other members of the Rangers brass have talked about how great it would be to have a young goal-scoring talent like Yakupov, especially with New York’s offense struggling. Sather may have even mentioned that to the Oilers contingent in attendance. But a deal is almost certainly not going to happen.
Yakupov hasn’t been very good in Edmonton, but the #1 pick still obviously has sublime talent and hasn’t fallen so far out of favor that the Oilers are ready to just give him away.
No, any package for Yakupov would have to include defensive help for the porous Oilers. To acquire Yakupov, the Rangers would need to give up one of Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi or Michael Del Zotto. New York’s defensive depth is already a bit of a concern, so the Rangers really can’t consider moving any of those four, which should be pretty much the end of the story.
Of them, Del Zotto is probably the most expendable, but he has less value than the others – plus the Oilers have a very similar (only better) player in Justin Schultz. And if the Oilers did want Del Zotto, he would only be part of a bigger package – New York would also need to include another player, maybe J.T. Miller. Again, pretty unlikely.
Even if the Rangers deemed those players expendable for some reason, going all-in on Yakupov, specifically, doesn’t make a ton of sense. Yakupov has already earned a reputation for being selfish and hard to coach in just his second season. That is likely pretty concerning to an organization that has rebuilt itself around guys like Ryan Callahan, on very strong core principles. And don’t forget, Ilya Kovalchuk may have paved the way for more Russians to return home – Yakupov’s NHL future has to be looked at cautiously.
Could the Rangers be after Hemsky? It’s a little more likely. Hemsky’s $5 million expiring cap hit is a concern, but under the new CBA, the Oilers (who are $4 million under the cap) can eat some of Hemsky’s money. Hemsky has always had a hard time staying healthy, but he could provide instant offense at a much cheaper price.
So considering the Ducks were starting their third string goalie and already have Jonas Hiller, Viktor Fasth and John Gibson, doesn’t it seem a lot more likely that Edmonton was in the house looking for an upgrade over the struggling Devin Dubnyk?"Debunking the Nail Yakupov "rumor"",