Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Could Nail Yakupov Be the Key to Unlocking Grigorenko?

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

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

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?

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Mikhail Grigorenko Nail Yakupov Trade Rumours

  • james1968

    I liked the way Girgensons and Grigorenko played together. Add Nail Yakupov on the other wing and you’d have a pretty badass line. A gritty forward to get in front of the net with a play making center and a potential elite level sniper. Only problem is I don’t see Edmonton giving up Yakupov. We can dream though.

    • Jes

      Yakupov has fell out of favor in Edmonton. If a trade that solves there goaltending problem that has haunted them since Roloson was there then I’m sure they’d pull the trigger. Only one I’d honestly say is untouchable on that team is probably Hall and probably Nurse. Along with Miller I’d give them McNabb and Ruhwedel in exchange we get Yakupov, and a 3rd rounder or 2nd rounder and maybe a midlevel prospect. We’d obviously have to take back some of Miller’s salary. I know Edmonton is on Miller’s list of teams he won’t accept a trade to but IMO he will see the potential in Edmonton is sky high he will accept a trade too them. I know he wants to play closer to his wife. But IMO he also wants to win a cup and Oilers are close just a goalie and a couple defensemen away from being up there on a yearly basis. He’s got his whole life to be close to his wife and only a possible 3-5 years of good hockey left in him. I’m sure she’d understand.

  • davidmuscalo

    The only problem with your “logic” is that both Yaki and Grigo are failures in the NHL – are paper player, that is, they look good paper, but terrible on the ice. Zero times zero is zero.

    Girgensons is completely different kind of player; he doesn’t have an overinflated opinion of himself, he is not intimidated by the big boys in the NHL and he works his tail off. Sticking him with these two losers would only slow his development and make Regier look even dumber than he is.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Ok before you label them both failures please remember neither of them has more than 2 years of NHL experience under their belts… they’re young and are still learning to play in the NHL. Not every superstar becomes that star right away… give it tome.
      And I never mentioned sticking Girgensons with those two

    • Jes

      Your labelling them failures that fast? Thank god your not our GM my friend. You shouldn’t really talk if you have no idea what you’re talking about. What gives you the opinion either Yakupov or Grigorenko have inflated opinions of themselves? Every kid is different guy.

      • davidmuscalo

        Both of these guys were sold to their respective fans by their GMs as NHL-ready. That is why I consider them failures. As for Pominville, no one sold him to us as NHL-ready and he toiled in the minors for several years before even getting a shot at a job in the NHL.

        The fact that they are not willing or able to do the physical and, more importantly, the mental work required to play NHL-level hockey is the reason I say Grigo and Yaku have inflated opinions of themselves.


        “Pominville didn’t do nothing…….” That’s a double negative, watch you grammar and spelling!

        • really?

          “are paper player, that is, they look good paper”

          are paper player(s)*, that is, they look good (on)* paper

          “watch you grammar and spelling!”

          watch you(r)* grammar and spelling!

        • Jes

          Bad boys, bad boys what you gonna do? What you gonna do when the grammar police comes for you?

          LOL, there’s always one of you on these message boards. Have no real base for a rebuttal then ends up insulting your grammar. Funny stuff.

          • davidmuscalo

            The rebuttal was accurate and true.

          • Jes

            Not really. A player’s agent sells the player to that team as NHL ready, not the player himself. Agent’s do this to get the green.

            What makes you say there not doing the mental work? Your not currently one of either Yaks or Grigs psychiatrist are you? Lol. You make way to much of this stuff up man.

            So with your theory Ristolainen is a failure also? He was deemed NHL ready and he has done nothing so far.

  • Ben Chalker

    I’d rather ship Grigo to be honest.
    The Rangers are alledgedly looking to ship out Chris Kreider. Seems like a fairly even value trade, talented, first round dudes disappointing their original teams.

    • Jes

      Lame idea. When Grigorenko starts ripping it up with the Rangers you’ll be the first one on here crying about why Darcy traded the guy.

      • Ben Chalker

        Darcy doesn’t lose on trades. Strangely, he’s never taken my advice…
        There’s a connection there I’m sure.

        • Jes

          Oh ok there is a God then.

          THANK YOU BIG GUY, I OWE YOU ONE!!!! (Talking to God.)

  • Jes

    Caitlin I was just watching TSN SportsCentre and one of the questions asked was is Rolston or even Regier feeling the heat? And the answer was NO because reports are indicating that Pegula knew it was gonna be a horrible few years. So other than the draft and trades of Vanek and Miller this team won’t be to active in bettering themselves for the present more so for quite possibly the distant future lol.

    Ahhh well Ekblad (Sold on him now haha) and McDavid sound pretty grand to me.

    • wolfdoctor

      Totally agree

    • Caitlin Campbell

      oddly enough Jes I’m just hearing that TSN report right now. It’s a pretty hostile rink and that will take it’s toll but I don’t see Regier going anywhere anytime soon. I think they’re set on a high draft pick.

  • Dano

    Heres my whole problem with Nail and ‘ our russian ‘.

    “Grigorenko has the type of skill-sets that would require him centring one of the top two lines for him to truly shine.. ”

    To be on the ‘ top line ‘ you need to understand how to play BOTH WAYS, Defensive and Offensive. Nail wants to score goals and was sat for a few games due to wanting to play ‘ his way ‘. Many Russians play that way. Ovechkin had the same problems. Sometimes he ( Ovechkin ) falls back into those slumps.

    Nail has 1 year in the CHL/OHL and learned the Russian systems in the Russian Minor/Junior leagues. They tend to play ‘ area ‘ instead of the puck or man to man. Its just what they have always known and have excelled at. It IS a good system, but you cannot take a North American Team and get them to buy off into such a system. It just wont happen.

    Grigorenko has 1 year in the CHL.. Thats all he knows of North American Hockey.

    As bad as it seems, we have 1 Russian on the team whos managed to make it to the 4th line. I believe there is a reason for that happening but Im not going to claim I know what it is. Im sure when his entry level contract is done, Grigorenko will find his ass back in Mother Russia.

    If I want someone from Edmonton, Its Eberle. Hes not ‘ small ‘, has excellent hands and even on team with a defense as questionable as Buffalos, hes still a +4 ( maybe 5? havent looked ). Sure, hes not a #1 overall pick, but hes a 2way player which is something Buffalo desperately needs.

    What Grigorenko suffers from is a ‘ split decision ‘. The KHL will be there for him if he doesnt get his way in the NHL.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I agree Dano, I’m very very worried he will bolt to the KHL should the Sabres don’t work out for him. Eberle is for sure the guy I want from the Oilers but the rumour is with Yakupov so I had to speculate with him. They’re both young and have a lot to learn. But when Grigo learns and matures there is no reason based on his skill he shouldn’t be 1st line IMO but only if he develops.

  • john

    Sabres should try to.go. get nikita kucherov who is grigorenko perfect match . both friend and High skills player they played together in the Q. kucherov is non expensive and has a lower trade value than yakupov for.sur

  • Andrew

    Why isn’t he eligible for the AHL?

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Age/CHL issue. Because of his age the NHL as an agreement that he doesn’t stick with the Sabres he must be returned to junior to see that the CHL league’s don’t lose all their players and talent.

      • Andrew

        Thanks for the info!

        • Caitlin Campbell

          No worries