I was reading the Edmonton Journal website (I think?) and they were quoting some other random hockey writer, who suggested the Florida Panthers have interest in Nail Yakupov. And apologies to David Staples if I'm ripping off any of his work here. I'm discussing the rumor, not trying to claim responsibility for the info in the story.
Supposedly, this is how it works:
1. The Panthers aren't sold on any of the draft picks available. Sure, they could acquire a good player who would fit into the roster, but they need depth, and moving the first overall pick would be the way to acquire several players.
2. The Panthers want to add at least one defenseman this summer (two is more likely) plus a scoring winger.
3. The Oilers (apparently) are perplexed when it comes to the draft. They need to add a top pairing right-shot defenseman (Ekblad) and a second line center (one of Reinhart, Bennett or Draisaitl). Having two picks in the top three of the draft is a way to acquire both.
Apparently, the Panthers are willing to take a shot on Yakupov. Even though he was the first overall pick in 2012, don't think he alone would be enough to acquire the 2014 first round pick. The Oilers would need to throw in a D-man. Let's do the math:
Giving Yakupov plus Darnell Nurse is likely an overpayment. The Oilers aren't going to deal Martin Marincin or Justin Schultz. That leaves the options being Oscar Klefbom or Jeff Petry. I'm thinking the Panthers would lean towards Klefbom.
This would be a feel-good story for the Oilers, as Buffalo will most certainly take Sam Bennett with the #2 pick. The Oilers would come away with Aaron Ekblad at #1 and Sam Reinhart at #3. Sam Gagner would likely be kept around if Yakupov was traded, moved to be the second line RW, even though he's sucked every single time the Oilers tried him at that position. But he wouldn't be worse than Yakupov was this year. Hey, if you want some Oilers long-term solutions to their roster issues, this is how you do it.
But I'm still not sure the Panthers couldn't find something better for their first overall pick. I'll give you some examples:
1. The Penguins would give up Letang+ for that pick.
2. The Flyers could give up Brayden + Luke Schenn.
3. Carolina would rip out their teeth in order to draft Ekblad
4. The Islanders could move Griffin Reinhart + Ryan Strome and not miss them. The need for a top pairing puck-moving defenseman is that big for them.
At the end of the day, I could see a bidding war taking place, and eventually the Oilers would need to offer Yakupov + Nurse. I'm not exactly sure fans would like that, as much as we're stacked with left-handed defensive prospects. I mean, I've said in a blog before that I would make the deal, because the Oilers are just that desperate on the right pairing side, but that's just me.
If you were the Oilers, and if you have a shot to walk away from the draft with Ekblad + Reinhart (or Bennett, or Draisaitl), how much would you be willing to give to make it happen?