The New York Rangers lost 2-1 to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday but it wasn’t what was seen on the ice that had people talking but rather who was spotted watching the game. The Edmonton Oilers had team president Kevin Lowe, GM Craig MacTavish and special advisor Mark Messier taking a peek at some of the talent on the Rangers’ roster and immediately the rumors started flying that an epic Oilers-Rangers trade might be in the works.
With the Oilers struggling in last place and the Rangers searching for offense a deal doesn’t seem so far-fetched. The Oilers are reportedly growing tired of Nail Yakupov and his perceived lazy style which is, at the moment, overshadowing his immense potential. The Oilers were linked to the Buffalo Sabres earlier this year with Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller the names being mentioned. However, it looks like that deal won’t happen especially with Vanek being shipped to the New York Islanders.
The Rangers need offense badly. Their interest in Yakupov, the first overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, should be a no-brainer. Yakupov led the Oilers in goals last season with 17 but has gotten off to a slow start with only one goal and two assists in 13 games and has been a healthy scratch twice already for perceived lazy play. However, he is one of the most dynamic talents in the NHL right now and would be a great addition to any team despite his struggles this season.
The Rangers have a few pieces they could use to land Yakupov. Dan Girardi is the kind of defenseman who would fit in well with the Oilers despite his struggles this season fitting into Alain Vigneault’s system. The Rangers also have young forwards in Chris Krieder and J.T. Miller who could be used to entice the Oilers. There are also spare parts like Derek Dorsett, Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot. There are also younger players who could intrigue the Oilers like Dylan McIlrath, Danny Kristo, Jespar Fast and Oscar Lindberg who could be used in a trade as well.
Perhaps the Rangers can swing a deal with Girardi, Miller, Dorsett and Lindberg being sent to Edmonton for Yakupov. The Oilers might insist on Kreider but the way Kreider has played recently I would hold onto him if I were Glen Sather. I don’t think it would be a deal breaker but it would certainly mean less going to Edmonton if he were included.
There is a very good chance that Rangers and Oilers could pull a deal off. The two teams have a long history of pulling off trades together and the entire front office in Edmonton has ties to Sather and the Rangers. It could get very interesting around Madison Square Garden in the coming days and weeks.