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Yakupov ‘not happy’ about being a healthy scratch

Oct 13, 2013, 10:11 PM EDT

nailyakupov2getty Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins surprised many by making 2012 top pick Nail Yakupov a healthy scratch on Saturday. While a message might have been sent, Yakupov told the Edmonton Journal that he isn’t happy … and he’s just going to change the way he plays.

“I’m not happy about it. I just want to play every game,” Yakupov said.

“I’m going to play my game … I’m not going to change but maybe play better without the puck, or forecheck more, but I love playing with the puck. I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift. I don’t think it’s my game.”

Yakupov, 20, proved divisive last season with his flamboyant goal celebration(s). It’s refreshing to hear him be so frank about his style, but some might want him to add a little more “sandpaper” to his game.

As far as Eakins is concerned, he just wants to make sure that the talented sniper doesn’t try to do it all by himself.

“The kids’ passion is to score and he was just going to take it all on himself to do that,” said Eakins. “I don’t care how good you are, you can’t produce by yourself in this league. You have to use your linemates, so it was more of a reset button for him. He can come in fresh with a new perspective.”

If you judge Yakupov by his recent numbers, there might be some merit to that philosophy.  Yakupov had more goals (17) than assists (14) for the Oilers and did the same in the KHL (10 goals vs. 8 assists) in 2012-13. His goal-to-assist ratio is almost 1:1 in recent years, so that might make some wonder if he “makes his teammates better.”

(Jeff Carter‘s a polarizing player to many, and he provided the most startling example of that disparity with his 26-goal, 7-assist campaign in 2013.)

Really, that’s a viewpoint held largely by nitpickers, though. The Oilers probably won’t be too worried if Yakupov ends up with more goals than assists some seasons, as long as he doesn’t go through too many stretches where he fails to produce either.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

  1. sampulls - Oct 13, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    Spoiled Russian brat.

    • lonespeed - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:07 AM

      Your comment is barely a step from being outright racist. What’s his nationality have to do with anything? There are spoiled Americans, Canadians, and European players as well.

      I’ve seen Yakupov play live and I too wasn’t impressed. Spoiled brat? Fine. But I don’t agree with this penance to insult players from a country just because a few don’t carry themselves well. It’s an insult to the Paval Datsyuk’s and Alexander Ovechkin’s of the world. Don’t like their game, fair enough, but to characterize their nationality as a whole and discredit what they bring every night isn’t fair.

      We don’t call out Sydney Crosby for being Canadian everything he throws a temper tantrum on the ice for being held or pushed.

      Yakupov is what he is. He’s a talented 20-year-old player with holes in his game who has a long way to go before he makes it long-term in the NHL. I don’t really care if he’s from Russia, Cambodia, or Antarctica.

  2. zacmelvinmcnutt - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:29 AM

    I wouldn’t mind one bit if this clown decided to jet for the KHL “I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift. I don’t think it’s my game.”

    Yeah, sounds like he’s probably better suited for the KHL, stupid Russian

  3. petemagoop - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    it’s simple actually – he will change or he won’t play

    • hockeydon10 - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      Oh, he’ll play all right. Maybe not for the Oilers, but there are plenty of NHL teams that wouldn’t mind the points he brings to the team.

  4. hosewater2 - Oct 14, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    “I don’t like skating all the time”

    Quote of the week?

    Anyway, what do you like to do, stand at the blue line, wait for your teammates to play D and get the puck back, then give you a breakout pass? That your style?

    • thailer35 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      That’s the style I play on Xbox!

  5. tlow97 - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Yaku don’t do forechecking

  6. robdog29 - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    This is easy. James Reimer and Jake Gardiner for Yakabov and Dubnyk. Both teams get immediate upgrades where they require but stay young and fast. Win win for both teams.

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