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Oilers GM praises Yakupov, fumes about trade rumor distractions

Nov 12, 2013, 7:49 PM EDT

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Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish bristled about an ESPN report in which Nail Yakupov‘s agent Igor Larionov embraced the possibility of a trade.

Generally speaking, MacTavish isn’t very happy about those who believe that the team soured on the 2012 NHL Draft’s top pick. The Canadian Press shared his frank comments regarding that subject on Tuesday.

“I think Yak’s been treated very fairly since he’s been in our organization,” MacTavish said. “We like Yak, I’ve said that many times. It’s a much bigger story for you people, and it’s becoming a bit of a distraction for us right now because we’re having to answer these questions.”

MacTavish insists that the organization feels the same way about the 20-year-old as “the day we drafted him.” It might seem like a questionable statement because Steve Tambellini was the GM back then, but MacTavish has been back with the franchise for a while (and many believe Kevin Lowe still holds plenty of personnel sway, anyway).

Regardless, both MacTavish and head coach Dallas Eakins insist that they’re taking the long view with a winger MacTavish labelled as “dynamic.” Eakins pointed to early struggles for eventual stars such as Steven Stamkos and Joe Thornton.

Times are certainly not easy for Yakupov right now, but the Oilers are at least saying all the right things about practicing patience with the struggling prospect.

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