Back in 2002, the Florida Panthers traded down from number one to number three and got the defenseman they wanted in Jay Bouwmeester. In exchange, they received the option to swap first round picks with Columbus in 2003. Could the Oilers do something similar?
The trade didn't exactly work in Florida's favor. The Panthers finished one spot ahead of Columbus in 2003 - 27th in the league - but they also won the draft lottery, thus leapfrogging the Jackets up to first overall. Because of that, Florida obviously opted not to swap picks with Columbus. In that 2002 draft the Panthers got their man anyway at number three overall, but failed to add any assets by trading down.
The Oilers are in a similar position. If management decides that they can forgo adding another offensive weapon in favor of rearguard Ryan Murray, trading down and adding some value could be a good idea. Are there any teams with whom a trade of this kind would make sense?
Columbus: Poor Blue Jackets fans. Here we are again, with their team a part of the exact same conversation they were in ten years ago. With the way that team performed in 2011-12 and Rick Nash wanting out, things are looking pretty bleak for hockey in Ohio. This could be the Oilers' opportunity to profit from the failures of their counterparts in Columbus. Right winger Rick Nash will be gone before the puck drops on the 2012-13 season, but it just so happens that there is another high-profile right winger projected to go first overall in this year's draft. Replacing Nash with Yakupov would allow the Jackets to use Nash to address other holes in the lineup, and would make the transition away from the Nash era that much smoother.
The Oilers appear to be ready for an uptick in their win production next season, but that's far from a guarantee. If the Jackets agreed to give up the option to swap picks next year, they would be doing so with the knowledge that they would probably be giving up the better pick. However, if the Oilers don't take a giant leap forward the difference might not be that great. It's a gamble for Scott Howson, but a good one if Yakupov truly is as far ahead of his class as it seems.
Montreal: The Canadiens are a hard team to judge these days. With a new general manager in place, it's difficult to know how he will assess and deal with a roster that finished 28th overall. The question is whether or not the Habs are likely to be better than the Oilers next season. This is a team that is only a couple of years removed from the Eastern Conference Final. They have a true number one goalie and defenseman, so would Yakupov - a badly needed right winger - put them right back in the mix in the East?
NY Islanders: If PA Parenteau bolts for greener pastures, the Islanders will need a right winger to fill the hole. They still have Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner, but adding Yakupov might turn one of them into trade bait. But like the Oilers, what the Islanders really need is help on defense. Just four defensemen are inked into next year, and aside from Mark Streit none are what you would call marquee names.
Trading the pick to the Islanders is risky unless the Oilers had guarantees that Ryan Murray would still be available at number four overall. And because of the state of the Islanders' defense, it's risky to trade down past the Islanders to a team like Toronto, for example.
In Columbus, the Oilers might have a partner for a trade like this to make sense. The Oilers could potentially add a fourth straight lottery pick without having to suck as much as it takes to get one. It all depends on how much the other teams value a certain player, and if they are willing to do what it takes to get him. But the further away picks get from first overall, the more risk there is to swapping picks next year. When it comes to something as uncertain as the draft, eliminating risk is probably the best course.