Why a Yakupov-for-Larsson Trade Makes Sense

DISCLAIMER: I have no source, not trying to add fuel to any fires or speculations. Just looking at two teams that have the assets that each other may be interested in. The chances of any of what you are about to read happening is highly unlikely but IF it does just remember where you read it!

Usually I leave the speculation to the speculators but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think that a swap of Adam Larsson and Nail Yakupov between the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers makes sense for both sides; and both players. Larsson has played in only one of the first eight Devils games this season, the Oilers are deficient of NHL caliber defensemen and the 21-year-old Swede would likely look forward to a change of scenery. He also seems to have (possibly) fallen out of favor with the coaching staff, losing his ‘job’ in training camp to rookie Damon Severson. Basically Severson came to camp, punched him in the mouth, took his job and Larsson hasn’t responded well enough to earn a spot back in the lineup.

Adam Larsson (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
Adam Larsson (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Yakupov was virtually invisible in two of the first nine Oilers games, the Devils are looking to add a possible scoring dynamo and the 21-year-old Russian seems tired of the constant media attention he is receiving in hockey-mad Edmonton/Canada. The attention on a day-to-day basis is significantly different in New Jersey, and the culture along with the leadership group in the Devils locker room might be better served to help the former no. 1 overall pick mature into the player we all expected he could be.

Nail Yakupov makes it clear he’s tired of talking about defensive responsibilities everyday:

Yakupov: Every day I’m talking to media just all about defense, so I don’t want to talk about this. Sometimes it just piss me off. So, let’s do something different. Let’s talk about different things.

Journalist: What pisses you off? I don’t understand what you’re saying.

Yakupov: Everyone asking me about defense. I’m not defensive and I like to play forward. OK, let’s do another question.

Nail Yakupov (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)
Nail Yakupov (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)


The salaries are nearly identical, Larsson earns $900,000 this season and Yakupov is due $925,000; both are set to become restricted free agents after this season. One would assume that New Jersey would likely have to add another player in the deal to sweeten the pot so to speak, and they can likely do so by including either Tuomo Ruutu ($5 million per, 2 seasons) or Dainius Zubrus ($3.1 million per, 2 seasons); the Oilers might even send back Jeff Petry ($3.075 million) to balance the monies out. Currently Edmonton has $3.021 million free under the salary cap and New Jersey is $3.646 below it.



The Hockey Writers own Larry Fisher explored a plethora of potential proposals for Petry a few days ago (including one for NJ, which I hadn’t read before writing this).

Jeff Petry Oilers
Jeff Petry (Nick Turchiaro/Icon SMI)

Either Ruutu or Zubrus would likely slide right into Edmonton’s top nine forwards (maybe even top-six) and Petry would be the seventh defenseman for the Devils. Larsson would get more playing time on the Oilers blue line alongside the likes of Justin Schultz, Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference and Nikita Nikitin. They should have drafted a defenseman with one of their top picks (or traded back for one, also accumulating other assets). New Jersey still has Scott Gomez practicing with them (unsigned) and GM Lou Lamoriello is likely looking for a way to free up a roster spot before signing him. He could even sweeten the deal for the Oilers, sending a package of Larsson, Ruutu OR Zubrus and Jacob Josefson ($800,000, 2 seasons) in exchange for Yakupov and Petry.

Could Trader Lou be laughing again? (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
Could Trader Lou be laughing again? (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

From the Devils angle they have quite a few players coming off the books this summer and Yakupov would be a nice piece to add as they transition towards the end of the decade. The forwards New Jersey has signed for 2015-16 are: Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, Ryane Clowe, Mike Cammalleri, Adam Henrique, Stephen Gionta, Josefson, Ruutu and Zubrus; also assume that the ageless Jaromir Jagr likely will come back on another one-year deal. Adding Yakupov to that mix, along with other youngsters — Stefan Matteau, Reid Boucher — could make for an intriguing team.

Let’s get really crazy and project what the forwards could look like for the next opening night:





Stranger things have happened, but do the Devils want to add another Russian former number one overall pick to their team after the last one didn’t work out so well?

Dan Rice can be reached via Twitter: @DRdiabloTHW or via Email: drdiablo321@yahoo.com

9 thoughts on “Why a Yakupov-for-Larsson Trade Makes Sense”

  1. So which is it, Dan? Does it make sense? Or is it highly unlikely? You say there’s no rhyme or reason to it, yet it’s a good move for both teams? Seems to me it can’t be both. Nurse and Klefbom are developing quite well, and please let us hear your thought process on how Edmonton is not good at selecting and developing players, especially defencemen. Love to hear that.

    All that being said, the debate on how good Larsson/Yakupov are at this point in their careers and are they busts or not is moot. George hit it – the Oilers don’t need another D prospect. They need a 2nd line center. That is the #1 reason this doesn’t make sense.

    On the other hand, you do have the platform, so of course you can continue to write these articles with your speculation. Change your headlines to (E5) and byline to Eklund and then we’ll have a good idea of what we’re getting by continuing to read.

  2. also Edmonton’s track record of selecting and developing players, let alone defensemen, does not lead me to believe that Klefbom, Nurse or anyone else in their system is going to be better than Larsson.

  3. did ANYONE read the second line of the article? Anyone? Bueller?
    “The chances of any of what you are about to read happening is highly unlikely”

    Yes I know Yakupov wasn’t scratched & corrected it, The site I was going off of wasn’t updated when I wrote this. My error for not fact checking before hitting publish. The point was, he isn’t producing like a no. 1 overall pick, therefore he isn’t going to bring back a return that equals that value honestly. I mean, stupider things have happened and teams get fleeced all the time and give up on players.

    I don’t see why Henrique wouldn’t be available. Everyone is capable of being traded, ask Gretzky.

    but as I mentioned in my disclaimer, there was no rhyme or reason to this. Just speculation inside my head that I wrote for the site because I have the platform to.

    To the guy who told me to “stick with covering the ECHL’ read my other articles before you judge me boss.

    Thanks to everyone for commenting and reading.

  4. Why a Yakupov-for-Larsson Trade Makes Sense for the Devils.

    I fixed your headline for you. This also works:

    Why a Yakupov-for-Larsson Trade Makes Absolutely No Sense for the Oilers.

  5. if the point of the article was to make people click and/or comment on it by proposing something so ridiculous as this then mission accomplished! If you are in fact serious, you should definetely learn more about the game before you start proposing trades that make zero sense, perhaps stick with covering the ECHL…

  6. What George said. Yakupov hasn’t been scratched; in fact the coach has repeatedly praised him. While the Oilers do need another NHL defenseman or two, Larrson is not an NHL defenseman. He’s another prospect at this point…and as George mentioned, I don’t see him as a better option than Klefbom, who should probably be on the Oilers roster all ready. If Yak was going to the Devils, Larrson might be a part of a package, but I suspect the Oilers would be asking for Henrique…a player that I’m sure is unavailable.

  7. Uhh, Yakupov has not been scratched this year.

    I doubt the gap between Oscar Klefbom who is the oilers next young D callup and Larsson is much. Oilers do not need another prospect Dmen especially with Darnell Nurse only a season away.

    If oilers were to trade Yakupov, it would be for a 2nd line center, not another D prospect.

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