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New Oilers coach thinks Yakupov will be part of 2012-13 squad

Jul 12, 2012, 10:54 PM EDT

Nail Yakupov Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers enjoyed immediate returns from former first overall picks Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger thinks Nail Yakupov will keep that streak alive, based on his interview with 630 CHED.

Krueger was also asked if Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz, a highly touted young defenseman that signed an entry-level contract with them as a free agent, would be used with the man advantage.

“They will be strongest, probably, in those [power play] situations early on,” Krueger said, as transcribed by the Edmonton Journal. “It’s the 5-on-5 game in the National Hockey League that truly tests young players – to find their way defensively first of all and then to create offensively is quite difficult when you’re new into the league.

“On the power play their skillset will have a little more time and space and they should be able to add to our power play strength immediately.”

He was also asked about the potential line combinations that the Oilers might employ – they will have the option to go with a top line composed entirely of first overall picks – but Krueger didn’t tip his hand.

Krueger is taking over an Oilers team that’s already spent several years rebuilding. They’re not at the stage yet where they’re a serious competitor, but they certainly have assembled an impressive core of young players.

  1. creasemasta41 - Jul 13, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    A top line comprised entirely of first overall picks… that alone should put edmonton on the map for a stanley cup in the next 5-7 years

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 13, 2012 at 1:53 AM

      You obviously haven’t seen their defensive core or goaltending. All kidding aside if Klefbom, Schultz and Dubnyk develop quickly in this upcoming season the Oilers will really have something going, but right now those three are bigger for the forward progression of this franchise than anyone. If those three come along fast this year they’ll challenge for the playoffs this year, the division next year and the Stanley Cup the year after IMO…and I hate to admit that as a Flames fan!

  2. ray2013 - Jul 13, 2012 at 3:48 AM

    We can talk all we want about potential and upside, but drafting is imperfect. Look at Nikita Filatov as a prime example. Drafted first overall in the CHL Import Draft. In his draft year, he was ranked the #1 European skater. Red Line Report called him “the next best thing to Steven Stamkos.” Drafted sixth overall. And now he’s in almost everyone’s list as a giant draft bust.

    At some point, Oilers management are going to have to stop talking about the potential of this team, and start talking about what they actually have. Outside of their Big Three (Nuge, Hall & Eberle), they have more questions then answers. There’s no point in getting too excited about their potential as a team. We need to see that Schultz and Klefbom are actually elite defencemen. How will Dubnyk handle being a starter? What are they going to do with their bottom six? Heck, their coach is a rookie head coach, so we’ll need to see how he does.

    IMO, they have the biggest variance of any team in the NHL. Things go well on multiple fronts, and they are in the playoffs. Things go bad, or injuries pile up, and they’re getting another top pick (though probably not #1).

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 13, 2012 at 4:58 PM

      Oh yeah I forgot about the new coach…push everything in my timeline back 1 year while they realize that hiring Tom Renney’s top assistant wasn’t the way to go to get away from the Renney style.

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