The New York Rangers are desperate for goal scoring, and as reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post and Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, the Blueshirts may be willing to make a deal for Nail Yakupov.
Edmonton, which has opened 3-10-2 under first-year coach Dallas Eakins, is believed to be accepting offers for veteran winger Ales Hemsky while also exploring the market for second-year winger Nail Yakupov, the first overall selection in the 2012 Entry Draft.
While Ales Hemsky's name was also circulated in rumors, it seems more likely for the Rangers to make a deal for the dynamic Russian winger. The Blueshirts have always had an affinity for Russian-born stars, and if he were brought to New York, Yakupov would join an illustrious list that includes Pavel Bure, Alexei Kovalev and Sergei Zubov, among others.
So now that the rumors are starting to gain traction, how much should the Rangers be willing to give up for the 2012 No. 1 overall pick?
At the bare minimum, the Oilers will want a defenseman and a forward, and the Blueshirts have a number of options. Ryan McDonagh is probably the only blueliner that would be off limits, so that leaves Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal in play.
It is unlikely that the Oilers would want John Moore, but general manager Glen Sather likely wouldn't have any qualms including him in a potential blockbuster.
Given the fact that the Blueshirts would be willing to deal any of the above defenders; which one would be the best fit for both sides in a potential trade?
The Oilers have long liked defenceman Michael Del Zotto, too. He had his best game of the season against the Ducks. He makes $2.55 million and is a restricted free-agent after this season.
Although they like Del Zotto, they already have a similar blueliner in Justin Schultz. He is also the Rangers' top offensive defender, and losing him would hurt the team's overall depth.
Next on the list is Dan Girardi, but he is an UFA to be. Although he would instantly upgrade the Oilers' blue line, there is no guarantee that he will re-sign with the club this July. Girardi has been a stalwart defender for the Rangers, and he could capitalize on the open market.
So if Girardi is a no-go, what about Staal? Staal is arguably the Rangers' best all-around defenseman, but he is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. He is currently wearing a tinted visor to help his vision, and that may indicate that he still cannot see 100 percent.
If the Oilers want him, and he passes a physical, he could be the blueliner the Rangers deal for Yakupov. Although the loss of Staal would be tough, the Blueshirts have shown that they can survive without him.
Ideally Marc Staal is the best option to deal for both parties, as long as he can prove that he is 100 percent healthy.
Obviously, a one-for-one swap of Staal and Yakupov would not be enough, so what else would the Blueshirts have to ante up? Matheson also said that the Oilers are infatuated with Chris Kreider, but dealing Kreider in this scenario makes little sense.
The Rangers are looking to add offense, so sending Kreider to Edmonton in a deal for Yakupov would be asinine.
Looking elsewhere on the roster, J.T. Miller is a player that the Rangers should be willing to give up. He projects to be a quality two-way second- or third-line center, and he plays a gritty game. He is the type of player the Oilers could use in their lineup, and he would be a welcome addition to their bottom-six.
The Rangers would likely want more back if they were to include Staal and Miller in a trade for Yakupov, so it would be fair if the two teams exchanged draft picks. If the Oilers wanted a goaltender, it is possible that the Rangers could send Cam Talbot to the Oilers, but that would make the deal even larger.
Now that you have seen all the possibilities, what is the most realistic deal that both sides would agree to?
New York Rangers send Marc Staal, J.T. Miller and 2014 first round pick to Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton Oilers send Nail Yakupov, 2014 first round pick and prospect to New York Rangers.
The Rangers want a scorer, and the Oilers want a defenseman. Staal is a proven defenseman, and Yakupov is a scorer with real upside. A swap of draft picks and the inclusion of Miller for a prospect is very fair, and it addressed each team's need.
Obviously more pieces could be thrown in, but this would be a slam-dunk deal that makes each team better in the long run.
Right now, this is all speculation, but don't be surprised if something happens soon when you consider the history between the two franchises.