Ever since the rumour broke last week that the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers were talking about a trade around Ryan Miller and Nail Yakupov, there have been no shortages of speculation on the deal. To make matters even more interesting the Oilers made a trade last night to open up a roster spot and they announced today that Taylor Hall will be out for the next 4 weeks, sounds like the Oilers may be ready to deal.
But instead of talking about a deal with the Oilers for Yakupov and what it might cost or whether it’s the right move, we’re going to look
at the impact acquiring Nail Yakupov could have, especially with a certain young rookie Mikhail Grigorenko.
It’s no secret that Grigorenko has had a tough start to the year with the Sabres. In fact all you have to do is look and see that their first round pick from 2012 is playing on the 4th line with John Scott to realize something isn’t right. For whatever reason, whether it be language barrier, or he’s not fitting well, Grigorenko has failed to buy into the current Buffalo Sabres system and he looks out-of-place.
Grigorenko has the type of skill-sets that would require him centring one of the top two lines for him to truly shine, instead he’s been put with players who don’t compliment his style of play and he’s getting left behind. Zemgus Girgensons is a great player and is starting to bud, don’t get me wrong, but he and Grigorenko shouldn’t be paired together as they’re two completely different players.
Since Grigorenko doesn’t have the benefit of the AHL, he needs to learn the NHL game now while playing in the NHL and it’s a tough lesson to learn. He would benefit from being paired with someone similar to his style and from the same country. This is wear Nail Yakupov enters the equation.
Imagine if the Sabres could land Yakupov and have him play on a line with Grigorenko? The chemistry of those two would be off the
charts and the potential could be sky-high. They’re both Russian and speak the same language, both are young (19/20), play a similar score first type of game and both are highly touted. With a year of NHL experience already under his belt, Yakupov could help Grigorenko adjust and teach him how to be successful in the league.
Pairing these two together could be the best chance the Sabres have at unlocking the mystery that is Mikhail Grigorenko. Yakupov is a high-flying forward who would excite fans and perhaps entice Thomas Vanek to stay (if the Sabres don’t trade him for Yakupov), not to mention he could really get Grigorenko going again. Both Yakupov and Grigorenko still need to develop, but they’ll have plenty of time to develop over the next two rebuilding season’s as they continue to spark chemistry together. They also played together for Russia at the World Junior’s, so they have the added benefit of playing together in the past and shouldn’t have any issues rekindling that country-chemistry.
If Darcy Regier is able to land Nail Yakupov, it may be one of his best moves as Buffalo Sabres GM. And maybe his last? Getting Grigorenko someone young, skilled and Russian to play with may be the key to getting Grigorenko out of the basement of the 4th line. It might sound crazy to you, but just for a minute think of the two of them on a line together in blue and gold. The future looks awfully bright with Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko together doesn’t it?