I think it’s safe to say Nail Yakupov is on his way out of Edmonton. As for where he might headed, your guess is as good as mine. But while I was listening to TSN 1260 in Edmonton this morning, host Will Fraser brought up an interesting trade proposal; send Yakupov to the Colorado Avlanche for local boy and future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla.
At age 38, 39 by the start of next season, Iginla is near the end of the NHL career, but proved last season that he’s still a productive scorer. The two-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner tallied 22 goals and 47 points in 82 games with the Avs in 2015-16. Now imagine his powerful wrist shot, a shot that hurt the Oilers in the Battle of Alberta for more than 15 years, on our side.
Iginla would be the perfect short-term linemate for Connor McDavid. Not only would he be able to finish on a lot of sweet feeds McDavid would be dishing to him, especially on the powerplay, but Iginla would also be able him plenty of guidance in captaining an NHL team. Also, can you imagine the reaction Calgary Flames fans would have to seeing Iginla, arguably the greatest Flame of all-time, clad in orange and blue? It would be like seeing Wayne Gretzky or Ryan Smyth in Flames silks. Hard to stomach. And while I admit it would be slightly entertaining to see Flames fans freak out on twitter, I’m more concerned with seeing the Oilers take a significant step forward next season than pouring salt into Flames fans wounds.
The Avalanche, who have a self-imposed cap, could be interested in getting Iginla’s $5.33 million cap hit off the books and brining in Yakupov at $2.5 million a season. Even though his best years are long behind him, Iginla is still a better player right now than Yakupov. Oilers’ GM Peter Chairelli won’t waste his time trying to convince Avalanche GM Joe Sakic otherwise, he knows that, too. Yakupov has yet to put up 40 points in any of his four NHL seasons. However, the Avs might think they can get Yakupov’s career back on track by giving him a shot in the top six with their core of young stars, which is an opportunity that he was clearly not going to get in Edmonton.
Of course, this is all speculation, but I don’t think anyone in Oil Country would have a problem with Iginla coming in for a year to help this team make a playoff push and finish his career with the team he grew up cheering for.