The countdown is on and while some teams have started their shopping prior to the NHL trade deadline, others are still trying to gauge the market. It is obviously the case of Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin who, along with three of his most important sidekicks, was taking on the Edmonton Oilers’ game in Los Angeles.
Reports out of TSN (amongst others) came out the next day that the discussions between the Habs and the Oilers have heated up and that they were talking Nail Yakupov. In a season where excitement has been rather rare, it didn’t take much to ignite talks in Montreal of the possibility of reuniting the former first overall pick with his former teammate with the Sarnia Sting, Alex Galchenyuk.
The young Canadiens’ player has set the bar for players from the 2012 NHL draft as the most productive of his class so far, and Yakupov has likely been one of the most disappointing picks from that draft at this point. Both 22 years old, Galchenyuk has put up 58 goals and 140 points in 254 regular season’s games so far, while Yakupov has 47 goals and 103 points in 232 games. This season is nowhere close for the two friends, as Galchenyuk’s 16 goals and 36 points are well ahead of Yakupov’s 15 points with only five goals.
While some Habs’ fans claim that their favourite team is awful at developing players, if the Edmonton Oilers are having difficulties, it’s because they haven’t been able to properly develop their top prospects and Yakupov is no exception. Considering that they have had several first overall picks and have been drafting much higher than the Canadiens, it seems like it’s a bigger issue in the Alberta Capital.
Could a reunion with Galchenyuk and playing on a better all-around team allow Yakupov to finally live up to the expectations placed on a young man selected first overall? It would all depend on his dedication to making it work and if he and his former partner of crime can resurrect the chemistry that saw them as one of the best duo in the CHL back in the days.
On thing is for sure though, while we know that Yakupov’s market value has drastically dropped, he remains a top prospect and it is almost impossible at this point to try to guess what the Oilers would require in return to make it happen.