Dreger: Nail Yakupov 'unlikely' to be an Oiler next season

Mar 14, 5:51 PM

Less than two seasons into his NHL career, it seems as though the Edmonton Oilers may be willing to trade 20-year old forward Nail Yakupov during the offseason, provided they can find another team that wants to take him.

At least that's what Darren Dreger of TSN believes, as stated on Thursday's broadcast of Edmonton's 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues (via the Edmonton Journal):

I would say it’s unlikely that he’s an Edmonton Oiler next season. So it makes sense that they’ll try and move him. They were trying to move him at various points this season. Word is out that Nail Yakupov is available. The problem is, no one really wants him. Certainly not for the value that the Edmonton Oilers are going to need to get back in return. And you can see why. He had opportunities in this game early on. He scored one goal in his last 11 games. He was on the ice late in the game when the Blues scored to tie the hockey game. He’s an NHL worst -30. He lacks commitment. He thinks that skill is enough to be an NHL player. And the unfortunate reality for Nail Yakupov is that, yes, he’s a skilled player, but not an elite level skill player. And until he finds a way to absorb the message, the market on Nail Yakupov isn’t going to be great. They might have to package him with a collection of assets to get something better in return

Yakupov has indeed scored one goal and added three assists in his past 11 games, with 21 shots on goal in that span. After Thursday's game, he sat at a league-worst minus-33 (to go along with 11 goals and 13 assists), which is only somewhat noteworthy as plus/minus a somewhat outdated measuring stick.

However, Yakupov has played only 109 games in the NHL, and is by no means a lost cause, considering he was seen as good enough to be selected first overall in 2012. 

The Oilers organization has not proven to be a breeding ground for success over the past several seasons, and while Dreger may indeed be accurate in his assessment of the perception surrounding Yakupov, it may not behoove Edmonton to trade him for pennies on the dollar.

As David Staples of the Edmonton Journal notes, "If you can’t get much for Yakupov, why move him? There’s been flashes of offensive genius. Maybe coach Dallas Eakins will figure it out with Yakupov and other Oilers next year."

Sep 18, 9:13 PM

Oilers' Yakupov 'ready to turn the page' as he prepares for 3rd NHL season

Sep 18, 9:13 PM

The first two seasons of Nail Yakupov's NHL career have been on the bumpy side, but the 2012 first-overall pick is entering his third season as an Edmonton Oiler with a fresh attitude - and some stronger English.

Yakupov regressed as a sophomore in 2013-14, posting 11 goals and 24 points in 63 games, after recording 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games as a rookie. He worked hard in the offseason to improve his size and strength, as well as his communication skills.

“I feel much better than I did last year,” Yakupov told the Edmonton Sun. “I came here to Edmonton earlier this year and I’ve been training here for a while. I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to see everyone here. I’m ready to turn the page. I think we have the people to have a great season here. We’ll see what happens.”

Oilers coach Dallas Eakins believes expectations for Yakupov were too high and he points to Yakupov's shooting percentage as an example - it was an unsustainable 21 percent as a rookie, a mark that regressed to 9 percent last season.

“The biggest thing for me with Nail is that he’s walking in with a smile on his face," Eakins said. "I think he learned a lot about himself and the game last season. It’s going to pay off a lot, big time.”

Yakupov added 11 pounds of muscle working out during the offseason. He says he is fully focused on the upcoming season and approaching it the right way. He also spent time learning English in order to better communicate with teammates.

I’m not shy anymore, because my first two years I was a kind of a little bit shy to speak English because I wasn’t very good. Especially when you have guys beside you who speak English really well and they’ve been born in Canada and the United States. But now I’m good and I’m trying talk more with my teammates and the guys in the locker room. We talk a lot and I’m trying to be among the guys in the locker room. We have a friendly team and you can talk to anyone, the coaches, the players and everyone. I feel much better around everyone. I think it’s going well.

Those communication skills will be put to the test once Edmonton begins its preseason schedule on Sunday.

Feature photo courtesy of Perry Nelson / USA Today

May 26, 4:58 PM

Oilers coach Eakins: Relationship with Nail Yakupov 'is a great one'

May 26, 4:58 PM

To say that Edmonton Oilers forward Nail Yakupov's sophomore season in the NHL was rather disappointing would be an understatement.

The first overall pick in 2012 registered 11 goals, 13 assists and 122 shots on goal in 63 games, and developed a bad reputation (in the eyes of some, anyway) for his near league-worst minus-33.

That led to speculation that the Oilers have soured on the talented young forward, and that his relationship with head coach Dallas Eakins was strained along the way.

Not so fast, says Eakins.

"My relationship with Nail is a great one,” Eakins told Sportsnet 590 The FAN's morning show Monday. The head coach added that there was no turmoil in the locker room when he repeatedly made Yakupov a healthy scratch.

"I kind of chuckle with the way it gets drawn out in the media," he said. "You take a kid out of the lineup and suddenly there’s a big fight going on. Well, there’s no fight. Nail understood what was going on.”

Eakins also made it sound as though he's expecting to see Yakupov at training camp in September.

“There’s an evolution to a player like Nail,” Eakins says. “He’s still learning the game; he’s extremely inexperienced. I’m very hopeful and fairly confident that he’s gonna have a great rebound year.”

Time will tell if management has other ideas in mind.

Feature photo courtesy of Kyle Terada / USA Today