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.
Sep 17, 2014, 9:02 AM EDT
Those prospects could get longer looks if Ryan Johansen misses the preseason.
Sep 17, 2014, 7:56 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT
“It’s extortion is what it is. I don’t make this stuff up.”
Sep 16, 2014, 9:22 PM EDT
Caps blueliner has had bad luck in the health department.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
Florida’s youngsters stole the show overall.
Sep 16, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT
And he’ll reportedly miss part of Minnesota’s training camp.
Sep 16, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
The former appeared in three games for Chicago last year; the latter played in Germany.
Sep 16, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT
Sep 16, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT
The future of Detroit’s defense gets locked in.
Sep 16, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT
Just one month after re-signing Jakob Silfverberg on the cheap.
Sep 16, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
“Fines are meaningful. And I think it has to do with essentially being called out.”
Sep 16, 2014, 3:21 PM EDT
He’ll be part of the player development department.
Sep 16, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
We pick a couple of long shots.
Sep 16, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT
Kings forward “didn’t want to become a free agent and leave” L.A.
Sep 16, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
That’s him getting tossed around by Ryan Reaves.
Sep 16, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT
For “outstanding service to hockey in the United States.”
Sep 16, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
Veteran power forward is trying to return from another concussion.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT
Will the NHL be watching?
Sep 16, 2014, 10:13 AM EDT
Sounds like he got the message.
Sep 16, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
The recently signed forward hopes to stick with “powerhouse” team.
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- Advantage Kuemper? Harding on crutches after ankle injury 12
- Done deal, finally: Wings ink DeKeyser to two-year, $4.375M extension 9
- Update: NHL wants to see fine system in action before publicizing diving 5
- Get your odds to make the playoffs for all 30 NHL teams 18
- Blue Jackets GM to Johansen: It’s about the team, not ‘one guy’ 25
- Will the NHL publicize divers? 48
- Report: NHL, Epix network to partner on Winter Classic reality series 18
- Habs to play without captain for just second time in franchise history 16
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman 54