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Russian Olympic scout blasts Yakupov: ‘If he’s not going to change his game, he has no future’

Oct 17, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT

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These aren’t the best of times for Nail Yakupov.

After being a healthy scratch for consecutive games earlier in the week, Yakupov was put on blast by Russian Olympic scout Igor Kravchuk, currently analyzing NHLers in preparation for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

“He has to make up his mind, if he’s not going to change his game, then he has no future (in the NHL),” Kravchuk told TSN 1200 Radio Ottawa. “From what I see, his team game is really, really poor. He tries to do a lot of things by himself, he has absolutely no defense.

“That’s what really concerns us as scouts.”

Yakupov was one of the 35 players invited to Russia’s pre-Olympic camp held in late August. The 20-year-old, selected first overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is coming off a successful rookie campaign in which he led all first-year players in goals (17) and tied Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau in points, with 31.

That said, his sophomore campaign has been a disappointment.

New Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins scratched Yakupov for games in Toronto and Washington, saying the winger needed a “reset.”

Yakupov returned to the lineup for Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh but was ineffective, finishing minus-1 with just one shot on goal in 17:29 of action — this coming after he said “I’m not going to change,” adding, “I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift.”

Yakupov’s rocky second season in Edmonton has landed him in the middle of trade rumors. Last night, one surfaced out of Buffalo involving goalie Ryan Miller and forward Thomas Vanek.

  1. kingcobraman - Oct 17, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    hey coach cant you see the world revolving around me…. anther selfish Russian….

    • enollatsknarf - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      The russians are so lazy because of communism. You’d never see a good ol’ Canadian or American boy take a shift off, eh. – Don Cherry

      • skr213 - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:52 PM

        Oh god, come on. This kid was never even alive during communism. Keep the silly political comments to your New York Times account.

      • skr213 - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:53 PM

        Sorry, my bad, didn’t see it was a Don Cherry quote.

    • barkar942 - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      Please trade him to Vancouver. I just want to see the fireworks between him and Torts!

  2. withseidelinn - Oct 17, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    That comment he made literally puts his value at zero.

    • ethanmacleod1685 - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:25 PM

      Should have picked Murray

      • missthemexpos - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:40 PM

        Should have picked Galchenyuk.

    • ikillchicken - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      Agreed. It’s one thing for a player to play lazy without the puck. A lot of young guys do that. But how do you deal with a kid that basically says outright that he doesn’t like to skate hard or forcheck and isn’t gonna do it?

      • boonies2013 - Oct 18, 2013 at 8:35 AM

        you contact Darcy Regier c/o The Buffalo Sabres Hockey Club, Buffalo NY …this is his wet dream…a top prospect who skates (and hits) like the wind that blows through his ears.
        Small fast and harmless…on a line with Grigorenko and Leino ,I think my head would catch fire watching the three of them circling along the boards waiting for the puck to find them.

  3. michaeltheheart - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Yes, he’s selfish, self-centered, and I also agree about his current value, but why drag the fact that he’s Russian into this? That xenophobic cliche belongs on Coach’s Corner.

    • Windmiller4 - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      See, its almost become a known fact that many Russians don’t play defense and are one dimensional, it has nothing to do with xenophobia. Ovechkin, Semin, and Yakupov are only a few examples. Besides, when talking about Russians the last thing you want to do is bring Don Cherry into the discussion

      • katra2logic - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:28 PM

        Don Cherry would be the one giving Yakupov lessons on being a Prima donna.

  4. bullwinkle88 - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    The Sabres better think twice before trading for this guy…if indeed they plan on trading with Edmonton at all.

    Grigorenko, Leino, and Stafford are enough. We don’t need another underperforming player.

  5. joey4id - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    If only someone would have had the яйца to say the same about OV when he came in the NHL he would be a more complete player today and much better leader.

  6. buckeye044 - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Sounds a lot like Nick Zherdev.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      Alex Radulov too.

  7. northstarnic - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    “I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift.”
    Wow. At least Randy Moss didn’t talk like this until he had established himself as a top player in his league. Kid sounds like a spoiled punk who could. Sorry oilers fans. Looks like one of your young stars is working on establishing himself as a one hit wonder.

  8. iowa02 - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Yet he chose to play hockey professionally. I am also a bit surprised that Larionov is not telling to, you know, be better. Not the smartest thing for him to say in the press.

  9. AppealToReason - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    I really feel like there was something lost in that answer with him being English as a second language. There is no way a dude answers like that.

  10. travishenryskid - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Alexandre Daigle

    • bullwinkle88 - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      The only difference being that Daigle didn’t say it.

  11. flash8910 - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    I quit my last hockey team because we had this one guy, who insisted on trying to go coast to coast every time he got the puck. He usually never got past the opponents blue line. He also never played D, and try to cherry pick.

    If this continues, nobody will want to play with this guy. No team will want this guy.

  12. yanmontreal - Oct 17, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    We got the better Galchenyuk

  13. blomfeld - Oct 17, 2013 at 11:39 PM


    It’s a shame that so many of today’s Russian players like Yakupov, Radulov, Ovechkin and others have lost their way on the path ‘trail-blazed’ by the many ‘glorious’ Soviet greats who’ve preceded them. While I understand a ‘part’ of the reason for that, there’s yet another part which truly baffles me ? 😦

    • boonies2013 - Oct 18, 2013 at 8:41 AM

      a rare talent on a great team…the Russian Yvan Cournoyer if you remember that name…car accident in 81 after the ake Placid Olympics took a rare talent away…enjoyed him as much as hated him, so to speak…

  14. buffhockeynutt - Oct 18, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Please, don’ want to see this guy in Buffalo. But having read his negative commentary (maybe), I’m sure D. Regier will try his utmost to do so. But, that’s how things work in Darcyland. Darcy, we already have an underperforming Russian high draft pick here.

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