Nail Yakupov leads all NHL rookies in scoring

Jonathan Willis
April 28 2013 01:14PM

For the second consecutive season, an Edmonton Oiler is tied for the rookie scoring lead in the NHL. This time, it’s Nail Yakupov, who scored a hat-trick in Edmonton’s final game to tie Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau with 31 points. Additionally, with 17 goals Yakupov sits alone at the top of the rookie goal-scoring charts.

The NHL’s schedule is almost finished, with Ottawa playing Boston tonight. The Senators’ Cory Conacher has 11 goals and 28 points, so with a four-point night he could move into the scoring lead, but right now the smart money is that Yakupov and Huberdeau will end up co-scoring leaders among rookies.

Yakupov’s Sensational Stretch

As Bob Stauffer points out this morning, Yakupov has been on an unbelievable tear of late, even as the team has (mostly) struggled around him.

Yakupov’s assist rate over both this most recent run and from the beginning of the year is basically unchanged; he posted 0.29 assists per game over his first 34 and 0.29 assists per game over his last 14. What has changed is his shooting – he’s gone from firing 1.4 shots per game to 2.4 shots per game. By eye he’s been a much better player all over the ice during this last stretch, and I think this helps confirm that in that he’s finally starting to generate shots in volume.

Also spiking was shooting percentage; after a 12.5 percent run over his first 34 games, he’s scored 11 times on 33 shots for a 33.3 percent shooting number. He’s now at 21.0 percent on the season, a number which is almost certainly too good to be true. However, the possibility at least should be considered that Yakupov could be a truly elite shooting percentage player (15.0%+) – we don’t have his shooting percentage from junior, but we know he was a better goal-scorer than Taylor Hall and a much better goal-scorer than Jordan Eberle at the same points in their careers. Of all the things that make Nail Yakupov a fantastic prospect, his shot stands out as something that is a high-end NHL weapon in the here and now; it’s just a matter of the rest of his game catching up to it.

Everything has been catching up; it’s a process but his growth as a player is undeniable. Criag MacTavish raved about his development on After Hours last night and particularly highlighted Yakupov’s willingness to put extra work in. That kind of skill married to that kind of work ethic make him a very special player.

Award Possibilities

Yakupov’s strong run over the late season has moved him into the conversation for the Calder Trophy. I think he ultimately finishes as a finalist rather than the winner simply because Jonas Brodin has been such a revelation on the Minnesota blue line. Over a full season, that might be different because the learning curve for Yakupov was steep in the early going and he hasn’t had a lot of time to make up for it, but over a shortened year I think he falls just short.

He should be on the all-rookie team, though. The three forwards on that squad will doubltess come from the group of six with 27+ points: Yakupov, Huberdeau, Conacher, Brendan Galalgher, Brandon Saad and Alex Galchenyuk. The defenders seem obvious – Brodin and Justin Schultz – and while there are three possibles for the goaltender honours Ottawa’s Robin Lehner seems the logical choice.

Recently around the Nation Network

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#101 DSF
April 28 2013, 08:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
nrXic wrote:

"Now, those of you following along at home will remember I told you that the Oilers should have drafted the big centre instead of Yakupov but you had all these bright shiny things distracting you and you all opted to go with the guy who has the best cell.

Too bad."

The Oilers decided to go with the best hockey player, which is Yakupov.

Nevermind the Calder trophy...your point here doesn't stand. There is more than ample evidence demonstrating the Yakupov is going to be the next Russian superstar in the NHL. You can discount his performance in the last 2 games, and his skill is still apparent, especially when outperforming most of his team during a 6 game losing skid.

Hall is sitting 9th in scoring, and Skinner is sitting at 143rd in the NHL. We all know how worthless the Calder has become so I'm not really invested in who wins.

Why do you think Yakupov is the best player?

Because he scored 4 more points with 3 of those coming during the final game of the season against the Chicago Wolves?

Hardly convincing evidence.

Avatar
#102 DSF
April 28 2013, 08:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Sammy wrote:

"You can discount his performance in the last 2 games, and his skill is still apparent, especially when outperforming most of his team during a 6 game losing skid."

Are you kidding me Vancouver quit halfway through the 3rd period. It was not a NHL game

This.

Avatar
#103 michael
April 28 2013, 08:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

I think the Oil won't touch the Russians. too much risk.

The talk is there is a substantial drop off after 7.

At the bottom end of the 7 are the Russian, Monahan and Lindholm.

We need a C. expect them to target Monahan and Lindholm.

I think they avoid a D in the 1st, unless they get 1st overall.

Romulus you need to get your head out of DSF's arse and stop thinking inside the box. We don't need a center. We have RNH, Hall, Horcoff and Lander. Notice how I put Hall at center. This is the year that I think the Oilers make the move of Hall from wing to center. I think Gagner is moved for a "potential" top 4 defenceman. I believe the Oilers will take a shot at Drouin. Failing that they will take a look at Monahan and Shinkaruck.

Avatar
#104 DSF
April 28 2013, 08:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
michael wrote:

Romulus you need to get your head out of DSF's arse and stop thinking inside the box. We don't need a center. We have RNH, Hall, Horcoff and Lander. Notice how I put Hall at center. This is the year that I think the Oilers make the move of Hall from wing to center. I think Gagner is moved for a "potential" top 4 defenceman. I believe the Oilers will take a shot at Drouin. Failing that they will take a look at Monahan and Shinkaruck.

Drouin?

How on earth could the Oilers get him?

The kid has 28 points in 12 playoff games so far.

I expect Florida will take him 1st overall while Colorado will have to "settle" for Seth Jones.

A line with Huberdeau and Drouin would be very scary.

Avatar
#105 Dog Train
April 28 2013, 08:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

This is one of the most wide-open Calder races I can remember. My gut tells me that Huberdeau or Gallagher will win because of the Eastern bias that exists with the powers who vote for these awards. Oilers games are past their bedtim after all.

No other rookie captured the imagination of fans the way that Yakupov did this season. A strong case can certainly be made for Brodin to win the Calder but with Yakupov scoring the most goals and tying for most points coupled with the roll that he ended the season on, Yak would get my vote.

Avatar
#106 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 28 2013, 08:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
dougtheslug wrote:

Guy is a beast.Watch his off ice workouts- he is crazy intense. Focussed like a laser beam on becoming better. Natural gifts and single-minded about improving them -nice combination. He is a keeper- wasn't sure at first but now I believe he will be the best of the three #1s. And after watching Hall this season, that would be amazing.

Can't argue with that. Wouldn't that be sumfin.

Avatar
#107 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 28 2013, 09:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Now that the season's over. Oilersnation should wind the season up here as well. Get Gregor and Brownlee on here to have an no holds barred, airing of the grievances/slap fest for the boardies here, get things off our chest before the summer sets in.

Bloody Brownlee never nailed even one of his predictions this year, while Gregor must've been on some PED's or something. I'd like to take a poke at that Strudwick dude, work out some frustrations of the past season. Candy ashers, all of ya.

Avatar
#108 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 28 2013, 09:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
michael wrote:

Romulus you need to get your head out of DSF's arse and stop thinking inside the box. We don't need a center. We have RNH, Hall, Horcoff and Lander. Notice how I put Hall at center. This is the year that I think the Oilers make the move of Hall from wing to center. I think Gagner is moved for a "potential" top 4 defenceman. I believe the Oilers will take a shot at Drouin. Failing that they will take a look at Monahan and Shinkaruck.

Ummm... what?

1. saying the Oilers need help down the middle is hardly a market cornered by DSF. read more widely.

2. If Hall moves to C, that solves a lot of problems. It's been debated here and elsewhere before and RK discussed it mid-year and said they would only do it starting from training camp... it's an interesting option.

3. the Oil have no shot at Drouin unless they win the lottery, in which case they probably take Jones or MacKinnon.

4. Lander is still not ready. he needs another full AHL year.

Avatar
#109 Erik
April 28 2013, 09:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
DSF wrote:

Drouin?

How on earth could the Oilers get him?

The kid has 28 points in 12 playoff games so far.

I expect Florida will take him 1st overall while Colorado will have to "settle" for Seth Jones.

A line with Huberdeau and Drouin would be very scary.

If you want a small forward since Oilers don't have enough try Sven Andrighetto

Avatar
#110 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 28 2013, 09:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
dougtheslug wrote:

Guy is a beast.Watch his off ice workouts- he is crazy intense. Focussed like a laser beam on becoming better. Natural gifts and single-minded about improving them -nice combination. He is a keeper- wasn't sure at first but now I believe he will be the best of the three #1s. And after watching Hall this season, that would be amazing.

One of my favorite things about Yak is how excited he is to play hockey. before the games, when they aren't allowed to be on the ice... he's always lurking there mucking about.

this is one of my favorite moments all year:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/watch-yakupov-nails-pregame-trick-shot/

Avatar
#111 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 28 2013, 09:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Romulus' and Micheal, confirmed undercard combatants.

Avatar
#112 Dangilitis
April 28 2013, 09:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

While I don't think it's right, everyone kept talking about Landeskog's +/- last year in their arguments for Calder on the media. Which is why I disagree that Schultz is assured of an all-rookie team nod. Lots of stuff about good attributes of Muzzin, Wierloch based on +/- metric, but didn't really watch much of them either. I didn't know that TOI was an indicator of how good a rookie defenceman is, but Dillon and Brodin are getting tons of credit for this (in spite of the fact that Schultz was similar in TOI and had worse partners than Brodin and Dillon - might I remind you of Nick and Ryan's play?). Schultz may not get in on pts alone is all I am saying, and I wouldn't be disappointed as an Oilers fan. I think he'll be better and ready for an 82 game season next year, as I have seen more than flashes of a burgeoning D-man with a complete skill set.

Similar people are using the +/- to argue Calder nominations for Saad and Gallagher. I have to admit I didn't watch much of either, but I hear that Gallagher and Galchenyuk helped stabilize the Canadiens and provided a wealth of secondary and unexpected offense. Saad, maybe I am making an unfair assumption here but given who the other forwards on his team are, were his pts due to better linemates and easier assignments?

I also think Yak was Calder worthy for the last 1/3 of the season, but I think the voters' minds were made up earlier and he wasn't really in the conversation then. It's hard to change your opinion in a shortened season. I would argue that Yak did better in the often useless +/- stat compared to Huberdeau, and had less TOI/game, with similar linemate quality. DSF's argument is useless as Huberdeau had 3 pts in a meaningless game as well. So if the argument is for a purely offensive demon, Yak should honestly get the nod over Huberdeau. More all-around game - no shame if it is lost to one of the Canadiens' double G's. Yak will be better than all of these players, including Galchenyuk. That's all that matters.

Avatar
#113 Death Metal Nightmare
April 28 2013, 09:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

media hype = awards. applaud your own hype machine by handing out trophies to guys you favor because of bias. boring.

11 points wins a RoY of the year D award now? maybe they should give the Norris to Smid.

Avatar
#114 DSF
April 28 2013, 09:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Dangilitis wrote:

While I don't think it's right, everyone kept talking about Landeskog's +/- last year in their arguments for Calder on the media. Which is why I disagree that Schultz is assured of an all-rookie team nod. Lots of stuff about good attributes of Muzzin, Wierloch based on +/- metric, but didn't really watch much of them either. I didn't know that TOI was an indicator of how good a rookie defenceman is, but Dillon and Brodin are getting tons of credit for this (in spite of the fact that Schultz was similar in TOI and had worse partners than Brodin and Dillon - might I remind you of Nick and Ryan's play?). Schultz may not get in on pts alone is all I am saying, and I wouldn't be disappointed as an Oilers fan. I think he'll be better and ready for an 82 game season next year, as I have seen more than flashes of a burgeoning D-man with a complete skill set.

Similar people are using the +/- to argue Calder nominations for Saad and Gallagher. I have to admit I didn't watch much of either, but I hear that Gallagher and Galchenyuk helped stabilize the Canadiens and provided a wealth of secondary and unexpected offense. Saad, maybe I am making an unfair assumption here but given who the other forwards on his team are, were his pts due to better linemates and easier assignments?

I also think Yak was Calder worthy for the last 1/3 of the season, but I think the voters' minds were made up earlier and he wasn't really in the conversation then. It's hard to change your opinion in a shortened season. I would argue that Yak did better in the often useless +/- stat compared to Huberdeau, and had less TOI/game, with similar linemate quality. DSF's argument is useless as Huberdeau had 3 pts in a meaningless game as well. So if the argument is for a purely offensive demon, Yak should honestly get the nod over Huberdeau. More all-around game - no shame if it is lost to one of the Canadiens' double G's. Yak will be better than all of these players, including Galchenyuk. That's all that matters.

Who exactly is arguing for Huberdeau?

I'd vote for Galchenyuk...in a heartbeat.

Avatar
#115 Walter Sobchak
April 28 2013, 10:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I was talking to my buddys at the fire hall and one of them made an outstanding observation.

Both the Hurricanes and Predators might be in a position to swap there picks, both might be looking for imidate help.

In fact had it not been for the Hurricanes goalies being injuried they may have been a playoff team.

The Predators are in a similar position, deep at center and might be looking for defensive help or help on the wings.

What we couldnt agree on was what player the Oilers would move plus the pick?

For the record I suggested Paajarvi and Gernat or Marincin plus the pick.

While a few mentioned Hemsky and Petry, which I thought was a huge overpayment , but they made a very interesting point, both Yakupov and from what the orginization has been saying about Klefbom, both are ready to assume big roles on the team.

Interesting conversation at any rate.

Avatar
#116 Jeffff
April 28 2013, 10:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Finally a good article regarding the Oilers by JASON GREGOR.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Gregor+improve+Oilers+MacTavish+make/8307482/story.html

Avatar
#117 StHenriOilBomb
April 28 2013, 10:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
DSF wrote:

Who exactly is arguing for Huberdeau?

I'd vote for Galchenyuk...in a heartbeat.

Haha. Even the Habs fans and media here in Montreal don't think Galchenyuk deserves it over Galllagher, Hubs or even Nail.

What have you seen that they haven't?

Avatar
#118 Jeffff
April 28 2013, 10:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jeffff wrote:

Finally a good article regarding the Oilers by JASON GREGOR.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Gregor+improve+Oilers+MacTavish+make/8307482/story.html

Kevin Lowe you got that

"The Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL since the season-long lockout of 2004-05. In the eight seasons since, they’ve only won 255 of 622 games. The organization likely doesn’t want to hear it, but the team’s on-ice performance has been worse than the New York Islanders (259 wins), Columbus Blue Jackets (262), Florida Panthers (266) and Tampa Bay Lightning (278)."

Avatar
#119 DSF
April 28 2013, 10:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jeffff wrote:

Kevin Lowe you got that

"The Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL since the season-long lockout of 2004-05. In the eight seasons since, they’ve only won 255 of 622 games. The organization likely doesn’t want to hear it, but the team’s on-ice performance has been worse than the New York Islanders (259 wins), Columbus Blue Jackets (262), Florida Panthers (266) and Tampa Bay Lightning (278)."

But remember...it's all Slats fault :)

Avatar
#120 DSF
April 28 2013, 10:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
StHenriOilBomb wrote:

Haha. Even the Habs fans and media here in Montreal don't think Galchenyuk deserves it over Galllagher, Hubs or even Nail.

What have you seen that they haven't?

P/60 5V5

Galchenyuk - 2.76 (2nd among Habs forwards)

Gallagher - 2.67 (3rd among Habs forwards)

Conacher - 2.29 (1st among Senator forwards)

Zabinejad - 2.16 (2nd among Ottawa forwards)

Yakupov - 2.05 (3rd among Oiler forwards)

Huberdeau - 1.45 (5th among Panther forwards)

It's close enough that either of the Habs rookies would be a good choice.

Avatar
#121 morgie99
April 28 2013, 10:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Now that the season's over. Oilersnation should wind the season up here as well. Get Gregor and Brownlee on here to have an no holds barred, airing of the grievances/slap fest for the boardies here, get things off our chest before the summer sets in.

Bloody Brownlee never nailed even one of his predictions this year, while Gregor must've been on some PED's or something. I'd like to take a poke at that Strudwick dude, work out some frustrations of the past season. Candy ashers, all of ya.

Great idea!

just bar jasmine lol

Avatar
#122 The Worrier
April 28 2013, 10:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I think they should trade him to save Oilers fans anymore agony. I can see him holding out during bitter contract negotiations in a few years. This will be before the rebuilt Oilers win The Cup.

Avatar
#123 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 28 2013, 11:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
StHenriOilBomb wrote:

Haha. Even the Habs fans and media here in Montreal don't think Galchenyuk deserves it over Galllagher, Hubs or even Nail.

What have you seen that they haven't?

That doesn't surprise me honestly.

Gallagher was playing up the depth chart for part of the year and definitely covered the "media profile" bet better than Galchenyuk.

If there was any justice in the world, they'd give it to Galchenyuk if they are going to give it to one of the Habs.

Gallagher is fun to watch and creates a lot of attention for himself, but Galchenyuk is going to define that team for the next decade.

I'm starting to think more and more that Saad's size and CHI profile will give him the edge if Yakupov doesn't win.

The shortened season makes this tough because these players would have separated a lot more given another 30 odd games.

Avatar
#124 DonEnrico
April 29 2013, 04:21AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Quintana wrote:

Lindholm please!! with our 2nd Dela Rose, and with Anaheim 2nd pick a Golie......ala Detroit a swedish gang for the Oilers..

Yes! And bring Omark back!

Avatar
#125 madjam
April 29 2013, 06:31AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

The most dynamic, impactful , promising and entertaining of the rookies , Yak should be poised to win the Calder . Will it be good enough to overtake Huberdeau ? Should be , but seems like he needs a clear gap to overtake an Eastern bias (familiarity being the key -especially this shortened year ).

Avatar
#126 j
April 29 2013, 08:22AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

What's the 'over/under' that Yak slides across the stage on his knees when his name gets announced? Awesome.

Avatar
#127 Aspin
April 29 2013, 09:24AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Jeffff

Keep in mind that this advice and these statements are coming from the guy, if he were GM would have traded one of the most dynamic young forwards in the game (Yak) for a second/third line grinder in Clarkson. NJ would have been laughing to the bank.

Avatar
#128 15w40
April 29 2013, 10:20AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@j

That slide and a few of his other cellys will probably cost him a shot at the calder.

I would say a lot of the hockey purists that are voting will consider that and respond punitively.

Yak would have had to have done better to be in consideration and blown the doors of the the rest of field to win.

I fear that a good majority of the voters will feel the need to "put him in his place" and let him know that that type of exuberance is simply not how "good hockey people" conduct themselves.

Too bad really.

Avatar
#129 nathan
April 29 2013, 08:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Dangilitis

"Just curious why this stat is so meaningful to you."

It's meaningful to the resident cherry picker because he fell off the Tallon band wagon and onto the Bergevin truck.

Comments are closed for this article.