Top Left Header
Header
Go Home
Sports
Arrow
NHL
Arrow
Follow OurHometown.ca on... Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on RSS Follow Us with E-Mail Updates!
Yakupov shows signs of improvement during rookie campaign
By Rob Soria
OurHometown.ca

Yakupov shows signs of improvement during rookie campaign
Twenty-eight games into his rookie season, Edmonton Oilers winger Nail Yakupov looks to be the real deal. Some may have been expecting more from the nineteen year old Russian but from where I'm sitting, the youngster has been very good throughout much of his first NHL campaign.
PHOTO CREDIT - EdmontonOilers.com

Edmonton - March 20, 2013 - Twenty-eight games into his rookie season, Edmonton Oilers winger Nail Yakupov looks to be the real deal.

Some may have been expecting more from the nineteen year old Russian but from where I'm sitting, the youngster has been very good throughout much of his first NHL campaign.

While he looks like he will fall a little short of my pre-season prediction of a sixteen goal/thirty-two point season, Yakupov has already shown flashes of brilliance and improvements to his all around game. With the Oilers already using the likes of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in major roles upfront, adding another kid into the mix was not going come without some sort of growing pains.

After scoring five goals in his first eight games, the former Sarina Sting standout has found the back of the net just once in his last twenty. He currently sits fifth in rookie scoring with fourteen points, one back of teammate Justin Schultz, and is tied with Schultz for the most power play goals among rookies.

While they both have an ugly plus minus number, much of that can be attributed to the club's inability to score at five-on-five for much of the season.

Despite being thrown all over the lineup during those last twenty games, Yakupov has already started to show growth in his overall game. The turnovers are declining in number with each passing outing, his in zone coverage has improved on a nightly basis and he seems to have secured a home on a line with Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi.

Not too shabby for a guy who was seeing regular time with the likes of Eric Belanger, Lennart Petrell, Ryan Smyth and Chris VandeVelde over the last number of weeks. Not exactly a group of players that a kid with his skill-set would typically excel with.

Instead of sulking about his demotion down the depth chart at even strength, the nineteen year old worked his butt off to start correcting the limitations, in hopes of gaining head coach Ralph Krueger's trust.

While Krueger has still taken to replacing him during stretches of the third period in games Edmonton are up a goal, he has seen regularly when the Oilers have been even or trailing in the final frame.

As previously mentioned, Yakupov has already become a regular contributor on the man advantage, courtesy of his lethal one-timer, and has started to figure out the NHL game. Some will argue that he isn't ready to play in the National Hockey League yet, which could not be further from the truth.

Is the kid ready to be a full-time top six forward that is capable of carrying his team for time to time? Probably not but that hardly means he is not ready for the NHL.

His skating ability and shot are world-class and while he doesn't typically engage in the physical side of things, he has hardly been over matched. Yakupov made it abundantly clear he would not be returning to Sarina for a third season in the OHL and who could blame him? After putting up 170 points over 107 games for the Sting, going back for a third year would have accomplished what exactly?

Option number two, would have been leaving him in the KHL and have him start fresh come 2013-2014. There are two problems with that. It sends the wrong message to the player, whom you just used your first overall selection on, that you don't want him around and are more than ok with him playing in Russia.

Secondly and most important, playing a full season in the KHL would have made his transition to the NHL that much harder.

Does anyone honestly believe that a single soul on Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, the team in which Yakupov played with during the NHL Lockout, gives one iota about his development for the NHL? The answer to that question is an unequivocal no. If anything, it would likely have had the opposite effect.

They play a different style of game over in Russia, that would have further ingrained certain aspects in Yakupov's game that needed to change.

In all honesty, the only real option was for Nail Yakupov to play with the Edmonton Oilers in 2013. That is where he wanted to be and frankly, where he needed to be.

The growing pains will undoubtedly continue for the Russian teenager but they are a necessary evil for almost every player. In the long run, those lessons will undoubtedly benefit the player and most certainly the organization.

Follow Me on TwitterRob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at rsoria@ourhometown.ca


Follow OurHometown.ca on... Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on RSS Follow Us with E-Mail Updates!
Send Us Your Thoughts


Title - Story Count
8,374 Stories & Growing Daily...

To date OurHometown.ca has posted a total of 8,374 stories! News, sports, hockey, lifestyle, opinion and more!

Be sure to check out our Contributors and Columnists archives!


Title - More OH Headlines
Click on Photo or Story Title for more info
Detroit Grand Prix Canceled for 2020
Team Canada will not send athletes to Games in summer 2020 due to COVID-19 risks
NBA to suspend season following Wednesday
Lyn St. James to Race in Historic Trans-Am Series at the 2020 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix
2019 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear Fast Facts
OurHometown.ca News Database Last Updated:
Dec. 4, 2020 @ 11:51 AM EST





Footer
Free Sitemap Generator