Rumor Buzzards Circle Oil Country, Have Ties to the East >

by Michael DeNicola

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 --



To absolutely no one's surprise, another poor start to Edmonton's season has generated a whole lot of buzz among NHL insiders and commentators. The lovable goof, Don Cherry, spoke up on Rogers SportsNet about it as well. Grapes said, "You can’t trade Yakupov because nobody’s going to take him. Eberle or one of those guys have got to go. It’s a tough deal giving one of the young players away, but something’s gotta go."

Most minds concur along those lines... minus, maybe, the blatant venom towards Russians. I completely disagree with his thought on Yakupov, but there's no sense trying to turn that ol' dog's perspective around.

Okay, so, since then, some collective speculation has powered the lights on at the Rumor Mill. From IBN Sports Wrap, sports blogger Incarcerated Bob tweeted, "Rumors out of Edmonton that a monster trade is brewing with Eastern Conference team." This was posted Monday, 10:26am. 

SportsNet ran with this, publishing an article titled "Are the Maple Leafs and Oilers talking trade?" Does any of this have legs, or are these journalism powerhouses promoting a butt ton of clickbait? Maybe a little bit of both. 

The reason this piques my interest is because of the recent gossip storm that has hovered over the likes of Nicklas Grossmann, Luke Schenn, and Brayden Schenn -- particularly the latter mentioned. Unlike the popular demand from Flyers faithful, if Hextall is exploring Edmonton's camp at all, I don't think Eberle is even up for consideration. Jordan's average annual value is a hefty $6mm, which could create even more unaccommodating cap struggles through the short- and long-term. But hey, if Edmonton wants to acquire a bulk of our overpaid middling roster players for Jordan Eberle, I'm not one to cock block. However, the rational thinker in me says the Oilers could get much better offers for Eberle elsewhere. The asking price has got to be the moon, and I can't envision Hextall being eager to sell off roster pieces and a chunk of our assets from the farm.



Last week, before the Brayden Schenn talk sprang up, I had made an argument stating if the Flyers coaching staff is going to continue shuffling Brayden Schenn up, down and around the Top 6, perhaps it'd be in everyone's best interest to just move on.


I was insinuating that it'd behoove both parties to cut ties via trade transaction. 


It's clear the coaching staff does not trust Schenn with Giroux and Voracek on the first line. We're not even 100% positive Brayden belongs on the wing at all, but one thing's for sure -- he'll no longer be a center on this roster. 


Meanwhile, that 1st Line left-wing is being filled by Michael Raffl. Realistically as an interim solution. No one has truly progressed with Giroux and Voracek, leaving the third spot up for grabs. 


Matt Read is not the answer there either, because his role in the partnership with Couturier is arguably just as important as Giroux and Voracek. 


The swirling enigma to Giroux's left flank has caused such a headache that bloggers are even lobbying to split up Claude and Jakub --


"While Giroux and Voracek make a dynamic pairing and can certainly make breathtaking plays with pure skill, the Flyers need to even out their lines and give themselves a chance to roll their lines more effectively.  The only way to more evenly distribute their puck handlers and become a deeper team is to split up Voracek and Giroux." ---Bill Matz, Buzz on Broad


And ya know what? Bill is on to something. 


Giroux and Voracek combine as one of the League's most elite pairings from a possession perspective. Both are incredibly difficult to knockoff the puck, and their stick work generates open ice by drawing the opposition. The problem being, there's an absence of pure, unadulterated goal-scoring on that line. It's incomplete, and the Flyers don't have the pieces to supplement it. 


Ideally, moving Voracek to left-wing (a position he's played internationally) and promoting Simmonds to Giroux's right could be quite the deadly merger. But each of us knows that our forward makeup would be too top-heavy. If players like Schenn, (a healthy) Lecavalier, Couturier, Umberger, Read and Raffl were playing like true Top 6 forwards, then perhaps we could invest more consideration in a top line of the aforementioned trio. But it's not developing that way. Instead all scoring is consolidated on that top line and man-advantage. That's not anywhere near a level of balance, and we're currently paying for it at even-strength -- our goal differential is a -5. Much of that can be credited to lousy defense, but Philadelphia is currently 6th in shots on goal per game (34.0). We're just not finishing at even-strength. 



I won't disclose what I'd relinquish for him, but if Nail Yakupov is for sale, acquiring him and plugging him at LW on Line 1 would be absolutely stupendous. 


Never mind what Don Cherry has to say about him, his work ethic, or whichever muckraking media outlets pump the same drivel. I watch this kid late at night and salivate like a perv in Victoria's Secret.











A front line consisting of Yakupov, Giroux and Voracek would do worlds of damage. If we're talking a Top 9 forward, one of our available defensemen, some picks, whatever... I can't exactly speculate on what Yakupov's price is currently. But I imagine he's the most available forward of that mentioned group in all these rumors. 

I don't expect a "blockbuster" trade this early in the season, or even November, despite what SportsNet, blogsites, or whoever else in-the-know says.

If Ron Hextall is looking to generate cap flexibility, stay young, and fill the top line's wing with a strong candidate, Nail Yakupov is more than a sensible target. Of course, given Edmonton wants to play ball. 

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