The New York Rangers have struggled to get on track after a rough first month to the NHL season. Thanks to renovations to Madison Square Garden, new coach Alain Vigneault saw his team endure a nine game road trip to open the season, of which they were only able to win three games. Goals have been tough to come by more often than not, and the team is currently nervously awaiting the return of injured star Rick Nash. He suffered a concussion at the hands of San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart on October 8 and hasn’t played since.
Though the Rangers only have 12 points on the season, they’re only three points behind the second place New York Islanders. This is due mostly to the fact that, beyond the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Metropolitan Division is a train wreck. So while they’re not out of it yet, they could use some help.
Now, rumors are surfacing that the team might be looking towards Alberta to try and shake things up. According to the New York Post, the Edmonton Oilers sent out a few scouting reps to the last night’s game between the Rangers and Anaheim Ducks. The group included president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM Craig MacTavish and special advisor Mark Messier. Seems like a pretty notable group of representatives to send out to a game that doesn’t involve your team.
The Oilers, expected to finally turn the corner this season thanks to the loads of young talent on their roster, have done anything but. At the moment, they’re 3-10-2, and first year coach Dallas Eakins can’t seem to do much to fix the sinking ship. Due to the losses, word is out across the league that various Oilers are for sale, including long-time winger Ales Hemsky.
This is hardly shocking, as Hemsky’s seen his name bounced around the trade market numerous times the past few years. More shocking, though, is that there’s also word Edmonton is checking to see what the market would be for second year forward, and former No. 1 draft pick Nail Yakupov.
Yakupov, who impressed many last season with 17 goals in his rookie year, has fallen off the wagon. For the year, he has just one goal. Even worse, he’s been healthy scratched a few times. His reputation is starting to grow as an un-coachable player, with rumors even surfacing that he might pull an Ilya Kovalchuk and bolting for the KHL.
Whether or not there’s mutual interest between New York and Edmonton as far as Hemsky or Yakupov remains to be seen, but the Oilers dispatching notable front office members to a Rangers game is definitely worth acknowledging.