Rumor Roundup: Edmonton desperately seeking deal to right ship

Chicago Blackhawks v Edmonton Oilers

Things are getting ugly very quickly for the Edmonton Oilers. After overcoming an 0-4-1 start to finish October 4-5-1, the Oilers enter the final week of November having won only 2 of their last 12 games. With a record of 6-13-2, they’re mired in dead last in the Western Conference. Once again, this club is in danger of having their playoff hopes dashed before the New Year.

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson called upon Oilers GM Craig MacTavish to make a trade to help embattled coach Dallas Eakins, who’s become a focal point of criticism. Matheson points out they need a second-line center and it could mean trading a winger to get one. He also notes the Oilers need better goaltending and defense, as well as players willing to compete hard for 60 minutes every game. Read more

Oilers legends were impeccable in Edmonton, but since they’ve moved on? Peccable. Very Peccable.

Adam Proteau
Kevin Lowe (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When you consider what the glory-days Edmonton Oilers accomplished as players, you have to stand back in awe. Few teams were ever as ferocious. Fewer could boast of the stunning depth and breadth of their talent. From Wayne Gretzky to Mark Messier to Paul Coffey to Jari Kurri to Grant Fuhr and so many more, the franchise was like a Hockey Hall of Fame Factory that churned out legends the way potato chip companies now churn out preposterous flavors (coming soon: butterscotch pine blueberry guacamole mortadella cheese omelette), and their fans were treated to nightly exhibitions of the best the sport had to offer.

But since the Oilers won the last of their five Stanley Cups nearly a quarter-century ago, things rarely have gone the Oilers’ way. In fact, things have usually gone out of their way to avoid going the Oilers’ way. And if you look at the exploits of Edmonton’s key figures from those peak years after they left Edmonton – as coaches, as GMs – it becomes readily apparent that on-ice success doesn’t translate to the management suite.

In Phoenix, Gretzky had a slew of different titles (including alternate governor, managing partner, head of hockey operations and head coach), but he was unable to steer that team to any success before departing in 2009. In Manhattan, former Oilers coach and GM Glen Sather has been a success if you judge success by Eastern Conference championships (one in 13 seasons) and perpetual roster turnover, but not by any other metric. And of course, In Edmonton, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish have been at or near the Oilers’ reins of power since Sather left the organization in 2000, yet they’ve proven utterly incapable of pushing the franchise back into relevance.

And quite frankly, it’s shocking owner Daryl Katz continues to operate as if they’ve got the answers.

It may have felt great for Katz to bank on Lowe and MacTavish when he bought the team in 2008, and it’s easy to see why: Katz is an Edmonton native who was in his early twenties when the duo were playing integral roles in the Oilers’ dynasty, and bringing them aboard was always going to play well in the press. Lowe and MacTavish are confident, intelligent men who could inspire many who count themselves as hardened cynics. These weren’t snake oil salesmen.

The only problem with hiring former stars as management figures to deliver you a Cup is this: it doesn’t work.

Take a look through the list of Cup champions, and you will find few, if any who were being led by former star players for the franchise. Read more

It might be time for the Edmonton Oilers and Nail Yakupov to cut ties

Jared Clinton
Yakupov Featured

When the Edmonton Oilers drafted Nail Yakupov first overall in 2012, the belief was they were getting the final piece to the incredible offensive juggernaut they seemed like they were trying to build.

Two seasons into his career, however, the offensive numbers aren’t there and, at times, Yakupov has been more detrimental to the team’s efforts than anything. For the sake of both parties, it might be time for the Oilers and Yakupov to go their separate ways.

It’s no secret that the Oilers have struggled defensively and in goal, so there’s a necessity to, in some way, get help on the defensive side of the puck. Edmonton’s front office did great work to bring in defenseman Mark Fayne and winger Benoit Pouliot, both great possession players, but two players won’t change the direction of an organization overnight.

That’s why in order to move forward, it might be in Edmonton’s best interest to move Yakupov. Only 21, Yakupov is still young enough that his potential outweighs many of his shortcomings, and when your lineup already boasts Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Taylor Hall, there’s plenty of offense to go around. More than anything, what Edmonton needs to start building is the supporting cast.

As it stands, Yakupov hasn’t been anywhere near the effective player the Oilers had been hoping for. His rookie season was fantastic, no doubt, but since his first campaign he’s been unable to piece it all together. Look no further than his zone starts when compared to his possession numbers.

In 2013-14, his sophomore campaign, Yakupov started over 40 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone. However, his Corsi For percentage sat at 44.8 percent, far from where you’d expect from a player that should be a star. Statistically speaking, it was a down year for the Russian winger, and to this point in 2014-15, it’s going to be another subpar year.

It’s not Yakupov’s 28-point pace that’s concerning – even though that would still be less than his rookie total – it’s that he’s continuing to get dominated possession-wise. At 43 percent, Yakupov isn’t benefitting from an even higher percentage of offensive zone faceoffs in 2014-15.

While there’s reason to be concerned for the Oilers, there has to be some thought put into Yakupov’s future, too. For whatever reason, Edmonton is not the fit for him at this point in his career. Whether it has spawned from a lack of ice time – Yakupov gets little more than 14 minutes a night – or a continual losing culture, he’s better than his stat lines reads.

If his game continues to slide, it’s going to do nothing to help his future – or his future value. That’s why now is as good a time as any to ship Yakupov out.

The exchange for Yakupov could bring in a host of talent, too. Moving a first overall talent wouldn’t scare off any potential suitors, but rather, serve to show that Edmonton knows he’s got trade value and could bring them the return they need to help move the Oilers forward. While a top-flight defenseman might not be in the conversation, a second-pairing player along with a couple of picks isn’t out of the question. The Oilers don’t need a full rebuild; they just need to start picking up the complimentary pieces.

Yakupov isn’t forcing the Oilers hand, but eventually they’re going to have to make a decision. It’s clear many of the players don’t want the axe to fall on coach Dallas Eakins, and if management feels the same, the next option is to move someone out. There’s never any reason to make a panic trade, but shipping out Yakupov would be far from.

While the Oilers are coming off of six straight losses and a 7-1 blowout at the hands of the Blackhawks, there have been positives in Edmonton this season. But if the Oilers are going to take any step forward, someone has to go to get some help on the backend. And that’s why it might be time for Yakupov and the Oilers to split.

Miracle on Manchester to a silent Maple Leaf Square, the five greatest NHL comebacks

Toronto Maple Leafs Fans Watching Stanley Cup Game At Tailgate Party In Toronto

In the Swedish third league on Wednesday, one of the most incredible comebacks in hockey history happened.

Down 3-0 in the third period, IFK Arboga scored with just under 12 minutes left in the third period. Then they scored again 20 seconds later. And again nine seconds after that. And once more 30 seconds following their third goal. In less than two minutes, Arboga had erased a three-goal deficit to Grastorps, and held on for a 4-3 victory.

While there are no four-goals-in-two-minutes comebacks in NHL history, these are the five best. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Dupuis’ injury has Penguins perusing trade market

Pascal Dupuis

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward lines suffered a serious blow when veteran winger Pascal Dupuis was sidelined for six months with a blood clot in one of his lungs. It didn’t take long for rumors to surface over how they’ll address Dupuis’ absence.

USA Today’s Kevin Allen believes the Penguins have trade options to pursue. Among them are Buffalo Sabres wingers Drew Stafford and Chris Stewart, who are both eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, and Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Senators searching for the right swaps

Marc Methot

Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot is making some progress in his recovery from the back and hip ailments which have sidelined him since training camp. The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan reports Methot has resumed skating with his teammates, but he’s taking things day-by-day and there’s still no timetable for his return to action.

Methot is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. His average cap hit is $3 million, while in real salary this season he’s earning $3.75 million. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports there’s no sign of progress in contract talks between Methot’s agent and Senators management, fuelling trade speculation. He claims the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers are among the interested clubs. Read more

Rumor Roundup: With current tandem struggling, Edmonton may look for help in goal

Ben Scrivens (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the Edmonton Oilers began this season it was believed the additions of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth finally addressed their goaltending issues. Unfortunately, they’re struggling through the early going. The Oilers enter this week with a combined goals-against per game of 3.28. Scriven’s goals-against average is 2.94 with a save percentage of .899, while Fasth possesses a 3.63 GAA and .885 SP.

In the recent past the Oilers’ poor goaltending numbers could be explained away by their weak defensive game, but this season they’ve improved in that department, entering the week 18th in shots-against per game compared to last season’s 26th overall placement. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Nervous GMs may make moves near American Thanksgiving

Tyler Myers

Since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005, early-season NHL trades have become rare. Even the ability for teams to absorb part of a player’s salary failed to spark an increase in player movement during a season’s opening weeks.

That partially explains why it took a month for this regular season’s first trade to occur, when the Dallas Stars shipped aging defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Travis Moen. Since that deal there’s anticipation over when the next NHL trade will take place. Read more