After three consecutive disappointing seasons and three years of speculation, the Edmonton Oilers and Nail Yakupov are finally parting ways.
Talk about Yakupov moving on has been heating up over the past few days, and rumors began to swirl Thursday of a potential deal that the 2012 first-overall selection would be moving on to the Chicago Blackhawks. And while Yakupov is heading to the Central Division, it turns out he’s heading to the St. Louis Blues, as the two teams announced they’ve completed a deal Friday evening.
According to St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong, talks between the Blues and the Oilers really heated up Thursday, and Armstrong said he’s excited to have acquired the 23-year-old winger.
“He's got the skill to compliment our group,” Armstrong said, via the Blues’ Twitter account. “And the game is trending to younger and faster players.”
Yakupov, who said he was expecting something to come to pass on the trade front, won’t play for the Blues this weekend against the Blackhawks, but he’s expected with the team Monday at practice.
"It's going to be a great move for me and I get to play with one of the best teams in the league,” Yakupov said. “I'm looking forward to it."
Since nearly the midway of Yakupov’s sophomore season in Edmonton, there have been consistent rumors about his fit with the Oilers and whether or not he would be part of the team’s core in the future. He was expected to climb the lineup and turn into a top-six winger, but he was never able to get out of the bottom-six and remained a third-liner for much of his stay in Edmonton.
Over the course of his 252-game career in Edmonton, Yakupov scored 50 goals and 111 points.
In exchange for Yakupov, the Oilers have received a conditional third-round pick in 2017 and prospect Zach Pochiro, a minor league prospect selected 112th overall in 2013. The third-round pick in 2017 will turn into a second-round selection in 2018 if Yakupov eclipses the 15-goal mark during the 2016-17 season. While that may seem a minor target for a former first-overall pick, Yakupov has only scored 15 goals once in his career — during his career-best 17-goal rookie campaign.
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