The Nail Yakupov era in Edmonton has come to an abrupt close, and not a minute too soon for Nail Yakupov.
The return was expected to be light. With this in mind, the return was about as poor as one could expect.
Earlier tonight, Yakupov was sent to the St. Louis Blues for forward Zach Pochiro and a conditional third in next year's draft. If you haven't yet heard of sure-to-be household name Zach Pochiro, fret not. I had to do a little digging myself.
Pochiro, a fourth round selection of St. Louis in 2013 spent last year in Quad City (ECHL). In 44 games, the 22 year old Pochiro scored 26 points (9-17-26). Should Pochiro progress in an upward fashion, he might be a regular in Bakersfield before long. Go get 'em, Zach.
Perhaps the most appetizing part of this return is the conditional third round pick. It has the potential to become a second round pick if Nail Yakupov scores 15 or more goals in 2016-17, which doesn't seem too far fetched if he's played on a line that doesn't contain Ryan Reaves.
Nail Yakupov becomes the second first overall pick (2012) traded in the last couple of months (Taylor Hall, 2010) by GM Peter Chiarelli. What a time to be alive.
SUCH A SHAME
Look, Nail Yakupov is a player with obvious flaws. But, Nail Yakupov gets to go play for a club that understands you don't play complimentary players on the fourth line. He might even get a look with He escapes years of getting stuck on the fourth line, getting scratched for marginal players like Roman Horak, and general skullduggery.
"HE DIDN'T DESERVE IT"
It's become fashionable to blame Nail Yakupov for his lack of success, and he isn't without blame. But boy, oh boy, he didn't have much help getting to where he is today. In 2015-16, Yakupov's most common linemate was Mark Letestu, and the Oilers weren't very good when Yakupov and Letestu were on the ice (the Oilers averaged 1.00 G/60 when those two were paired up). I guess it really didn't matter.
When Jordan Eberle was out with a shoulder injury early last year, Yakupov started the season with Connor McDavid. Turns out, they did pretty well together. You'd think the Oilers would try to repeat that sort of thing by hooking Yakupov and McDavid to start the season, but it appears that those spots were reserved for Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle. Maybe you could set Eberle up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a player that Eberle had near identical numbers with compared to the time he spent with McDavid. Hey, whatever works, or something. He must not have deserved it.
"HE DIDN'T DESERVE IT"
No matter what happened on the ice, Yakupov loved the city of Edmonton. He would help the less fortunate by providing them with a hot meal, a night's stay at a hotel, or some pocket money. This has nothing to do with Yakupov's on-ice play. Rather, he did it long after the cat was out of the bag in Edmonton. He loved the city, he loved the Oilers. At least until they started scratching him for not being able to perform with a Roomba and a pile of vacuum bags. Hey, whatever works.
Yakupov was drafted first overall in 2012. He brought an exuberance to an Oiler club that was mired in the midst of a playoff drought that still hasn't ended. Four years later, he's no doubt excited to get a fresh start in St. Louis.
Good luck, Nail. We didn't deserve you.