Aug 14, 2014, 9:59 AM EST
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.
Dec 17, 2014, 7:20 PM EST
Boston looks to snap a three-game skid.
Dec 17, 2014, 6:35 PM EST
Has not played since Nov. 18.
Dec 17, 2014, 6:20 PM EST
Hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury Nov. 2.
Dec 17, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Rivalry Night affair on NBCSN.
Dec 17, 2014, 5:25 PM EST
It’s the first time the league has made a fine public for embellishment.
Dec 17, 2014, 4:53 PM EST
Currently has Calgary in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase.
Dec 17, 2014, 4:23 PM EST
Former Pens coach was on the radio today.
Dec 17, 2014, 4:12 PM EST
Hurt during Tuesday’s 6-2 drubbing in Toronto.
Dec 17, 2014, 3:40 PM EST
Veteran d-man no longer with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Dec 17, 2014, 3:02 PM EST
Will instead serve in a “player development/consultant role,” and will work out of his Florida home.
Dec 17, 2014, 2:27 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Dec 17, 2014, 1:34 PM EST
That’s 16 documented cases league-wide.
Dec 17, 2014, 1:31 PM EST
Despite four straight losses and the memory of last season.
Dec 17, 2014, 1:23 PM EST
“In every game that he’s played, he hasn’t shown any signs of fatigue.”
Dec 17, 2014, 12:25 PM EST
“When we were winning games, it seemed those chances against would not go in.”
Dec 17, 2014, 12:21 PM EST
Preseason standout now up for grabs.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:57 AM EST
“You just have to find a way to be better so it’s not going to be about one call or one bounce.”
Dec 17, 2014, 11:57 AM EST
Which will make things interesting for both him and the Blue Jackets.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:06 AM EST
Beau Bennett still dealing with effects, Sidney Crosby has “passed the infectious period.”
Dec 17, 2014, 10:47 AM EST
Says the move “reaffirms our vision of becoming an elite organization, both at the NHL and AHL levels.”
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- Bjugstad scores the winner as Panthers, Capitals make history with 20-round shootout 20
- Yep, Beau Bennett has the mumps 24
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- Russia’s economic crisis causing big trouble for KHL 56
- Eakins calls for patience in Edmonton, whether fans ‘like it or not’ 15