The Edmonton Oilers have traded former No. 1 pick Nail Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues for Zach Pochiro and a conditional 2017 draft pick.
Yakupov, the NHL’s top pick in the 2012 Entry Draft, had been rumoured to be on the trading block. One of four No. 1 picks the Oilers have had in the past six years, he had 50 goals and 111 points in 252 games.
According to the website General Fanager, Yakupov is in the final year of a two-year deal that carries a cap hit of $ 2.5 million. He will be a restricted free agent following this season.
The trade continues a rebuild for the Oilers, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 when they lost in the Stanley Cup final to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Yakupov: this is first time I’ve played on really, really good team. I think it’s awesome, I don’t know what winning is.
The Oilers also traded Taylor Hall, the 2010 No. 1 pick, to the New Jersey Devils in June, becoming the first team in NHL history to trade away two of its own first-overall picks.
The 22-year-old Pochiro had nine goals and 17 assists in 44 games last season for Quad City in the ECHL. He was drafted 112th overall by the Blues in 2013.
If Yakupov scores 15 or more this season, the conditional third-rounder will become a 2018 second-round pick.
Kris Russell joins Edmonton
Free agent defenceman Kris Russell signed a one-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night and plans to join the team immediately.
The 29-year-old Russell is a veteran of nine NHL seasons with Columbus, St. Louis, Calgary and Dallas. He has 38 goals and 139 assists in 573 games.
The five-foot-10, 170-pound defenceman ranked second in the NHL in 2015-16 with 210 blocked shots split between Calgary and Dallas, and led the league in the same category in 2014-15, blocking 283 shots. He set an NHL record with 15 blocked shots in one game against Boston in March 2015.
He has averaged over 23 minutes of ice time per game in each of his past three seasons, setting a career high in 2014-15 by ranking 21st in the NHL.
Russell was the Calgary Flames’ 2015 nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
The native of Caroline, Alta., has represented Canada on five occasions, winning gold twice at the world junior hockey championship (2006, 2007), and playing at the world hockey championship in 2010 and 2012.