Buffalo Sabres: Does a Trade with the Oilers Make Sense?


Right now the Twittersphere is abuzz with a potential Buffalo SabresEdmonton Oilers trade that, as of right now, may have both teams swapping their entire rosters. 

While that is a bit sensationalized, the notion that the rumors of this trade have grown in scope in the past couple of days is not. What started as a “the Sabres would be interested in the beleaguered Nail Yakupov” has now morphed into a trade potentially involving both Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller. 

But what does seem to be consistent is that the Sabres are interested in Yakupov, who has seemingly fallen out of favor with the Oilers’ first year coach Dallas Eakins. 

Yakupov, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, was the Oilers’ third straight top overall pick used on a forward, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins going first in the 2011 draft and Taylor Hall going tops in the 2010 draft. While RNH has had his struggles staying healthy, Yakupov is the only one seen as a potential misfire by the Oilers.

When he was drafted, Yakupov was seen about as can’t miss as it gets. Some even felt he was the best prospect coming into the NHL since a guy named Crosby. Since then Yakupov has shown flashes, but has not lived up to the hype. 

Last season Yakupov scored 17 goals in 48 games playing mostly on the second and third lines. He also finished fifth in the Calder Trophy voting, including 11 first place votes. 

These days, the future doesn’t seem so bright. 

Yakupov has been a healthy scratch twice in the young season and many have questioned his lack of a team game, including little to no interest in playing defense. A Russian Olympic scout has even said he doesn’t think Yakupov has a future in the NHL (via SI.com) because he has zero ability to play without the puck. 

So, naturally, enter the Sabres. 

Theoretically, a potential deal between the two sides involving Yakupov and Miller makes sense. The Oilers need goaltending desperately and the Sabres’ RW prospect pool is relatively shallow. 

Realistically, the price for Yakupov is likely to be much higher than Miller alone. That in and of itself should be enough to deter Darcy Regier, but he is a desperate man right now and desperate men do desperate things. 

Yakupov, if he meets his potential, would be a sure-fire 40-goal scorer and a huge boon to the Sabres’ future. Adding him to the list of Joel Armia, Corey Tropp, Justin Bailey and Zemgus Girgensons bodes well on paper, but losing Yakupov to his own ego, and then likely the KHL, is not good for the Sabres’ long-term plans. 

That likely means that any trade for Yakupov would have to include more from the Oilers to hedge a potential Yakupov flame out, which inherently means more from the Sabres. That notion is likely where the blockbuster rumors have originated from. 

But the biggest dampener on all of this talk? Ryan Miller’s no-trade list almost certainly has Edmonton on it. Without Miller, this speculative trade likely doesn’t work, unless Jhonas Enroth is on the move, which is unlikely. 

So, if there is anything the Sabres faithful should take out of this, it’s that the Sabres’ struggles will lead to a lot of this sort of buzz throughout the season. 

Follow me on Twitter for NHL and Sabres news all season: @SwordPlay18

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