Aug 14, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT
The Nail Yakupov headlines on PHT last season pretty much say it all:
So yeah, 2013-14 was not the greatest for Yak. Aside from the healthy scratches, trade rumors and acrimonious relationship with his head coach, Yakupov also missed 16 games to injury (concussion, ankle) and finished with the fourth-worst plus-minus rating in the league last year, at minus-33.
It’s almost hard to remember that, just two years ago, Yakupov was a tantalizing talent that tore up the Ontario Hockey League, scoring 170 points in 102 games over the course of two seasons with Sarnia. That paved the way for Edmonton to select him first overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, which paved the way for an immediate jump to the NHL, where he actually fared quite well — remember that Yakupov led all rookies in goals during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, with 17, and finished fifth in Calder voting.
Which made last season all the more nightmarish.
Now — and this is weird to say about someone that doesn’t turn 21 until October — Yakupov is at something of a crossroads. Barring a piano falling on his head, everything that could’ve gone wrong last year did, which provides plenty of narratives as the Russian sniper heads into the final year of his entry-level deal. Is Yakupov a quality player that simply had a dreadful sophomore slump? Or is he a one-dimensional, offense-first guy that just doesn’t get it?
To that last point — maybe he does get it. Contract status and his future with the Oilers are on the line, and it’s something Yakupov recognizes. From the Edmonton Journal:
Yakupov spent the first part of the summer back home in Russia with his family and friends. While he was having a good time and training as much as possible, he recently returned to Edmonton to get ready for his third NHL season.
“It’s maybe a huge year for me,” he said. “I feel more comfortable to train here than at home, so that’s why I’m here.
“I’ll train with the Oilers prospects, and then the NHL players are going to come, and then I want to play in the three-on-three tournament. … I want to be here.”
It’s worth noting that pressure on Yakupov is coming from outside Edmonton as well. Ryan Murray, who the Oilers passed on at the ’12 draft, just turned in a banner year on the Columbus blueline. The decision was controversial at the time…
Decision to take Yakupov over Murray came from a higher authority. That’s not indictment of decision, only saying how it was arrived at.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 6, 2013
… and continues to be today, especially with how valuable talented young defensemen are. And how badly Edmonton could use one.
So, just to refresh what Yakupov’s up against: a contract year, coming off a horrible second season, under a head coach he didn’t see eye-to-eye with and in the growing shadow of Murray, the guy the Oilers could’ve had.
Oct 24, 2014, 10:44 PM EDT
The Dallas Stars get the extra point.
Oct 24, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT
Injuries continue to … strike Tampa Bay.
Oct 24, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT
Update: Vladislav Namestnikov was credited with the last goal.
Oct 24, 2014, 9:59 PM EDT
On the bright side, Michael Grabner may resume skating soon.
Oct 24, 2014, 9:19 PM EDT
Unfortunately, Tampa Bay might face another injury in J.T. Brown.
Oct 24, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT
They send their 2014 first-rounder to the OHL.
Oct 24, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
San Jose’s enjoyed such center depth before.
Oct 24, 2014, 6:32 PM EDT
Tough times lately for St. Louis.
Oct 24, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT
Highly-touted rearguard on his way to the bigs.
Oct 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Hey, maybe the NHL should try 3-on-3 overtime.
Oct 24, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT
Speaking from experience.
Oct 24, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT
Returns to the Cardiff team he played for during the lockout.
Oct 24, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT
All the news and notes from the blue paint…
Oct 24, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT
“Anytime you go personal with family…to me, that’s very disrespectful to the player and our profession.”
Oct 24, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
“Everybody understands the system, everybody knows what we expect.”
Oct 24, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT
“We’ve got to do our research here and come up with the best solution we can.”
Oct 24, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT
They’re back at it in Edmonton tonight.
Report: Billionaire wants NHL team in Vegas; new Coyotes owner ‘sees flipping the team as a good investment’
Oct 24, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT
Denials from NHL and Coyotes.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
“I’m going to focus on the good and try to clean up the bad parts. That’s my job.”
Oct 24, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
Click to see Boston’s schedule through the end of November.
- Video: Drouin scores first NHL goal, shows early chemistry with Stamkos 3
- Ghost Time: Flyers recall Gostisbehere from AHL 15
- Trotz calls Healy’s comments on Ovechkin (and Ovechkin’s mom) ‘disrespectful’ 25
- Report: Billionaire wants NHL team in Vegas; new Coyotes owner ‘sees flipping the team as a good investment’ 23
- Chara has PCL tear, out 4-6 weeks 19
- Coburn, MacDonald out four weeks with lower-body injuries 18
- Red-hot Quick sets new Kings’ franchise shutout record 9
- Reports: Chara could miss at least 4-6 weeks with knee injury 13
- Video: Red Wings’ stars stun Penguins with late surge 31
- Report: Isles’ Bailey out indefinitely after breaking hand 3
- Video: Two quick third-period goals propel Flyers over rival Penguins (82)
- Updated: Kings’ Voynov arrested for domestic assault, suspended indefinitely (78)
- Babcock: ‘Price definitely initiates contact’ in disallowed Datsyuk goal (59)
- ‘It’s stupid': Tempers flare after Kesler’s late charge on Granlund (54)
- Lucic apologizes for obscene gesture: ‘I’m obviously not proud of what I did there’ (45)