Two games into the NHL season, Nail Yakupov looks better in every
discipline. He’s faster, more aggressive, drives to the net, passes with
aplomb, is defensively aware to the point of shocking, and despite
manic movement has slowed down enough to allow gaps and lanes to form.
I’ve always preached patience with this player, and maturation is
certainly part of the improvement.

I think there are two other
things we should acknowledge: The player working hard and smart, and the
coach creating an environment where learning and productivity are
possible. I’m sure Dallas Eakins handles each player a little
differently, but the number one item on his agenda in terms of getting
more out of players was Yakupov. Last season at this time, the situation
was close to eruption. One year later, well, it’s worlds apart.

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oilers yak

Yakupov’s goal on Saturday in Vancouver was the usual for him: Thrilling drive to
the net and a quick shot for a goal. He’s faster this season, as
determined but more of a threat, and I do think at some point in the
year we’re going to see him on the 1line. No disrespect to Jordan
Eberle, but the talent level with this player is extremely high, and if
Hall-Nuge-Yak spend 20 games together the mind boggles with the


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  • Craig MacTavish: “Let me
    tell you about Yak. He is an unbelievable kid. He is a hard-working,
    very solid individual – and he’ll get there. It’s going to take time,
    the way it does for all kids, but hockey’s important to him, very
    important to him. So he’s not vilified internally, I can tell you.”

During the RE series,
we discussed Yakupov’s defensive issues as learning at the NHL
level—always a difficult thing to do—and using his linemates when in the
possession window:

  • I’ve never seen it expressed
    anywhere, but it seems his junior career (and possibly before) didn’t
    involve a lot of structure. Yakupov’s defensive role (he’s a winger) is
    not rocket science. I think the major concern of the coaching staff has
    to do with doing less solo work with the puck, to be honest.

what I’m seeing, as well as the work effort to get back and cover. Nail
is using his linemates better, putting them in a position to take the
puck on the fly, or quickly return it. The game is slowing down for him,
and that’s good news for the Oilers and us (the fans).

Jonathan Willis:#10 Nail Yakupov, 7He
didn’t earn an assist on the play, but Yakupov made critical plays in
both the offensive and the defensive zone in the leadup to Hunt’s 1-0
goal… couldn’t quite get the puck but finished a hard hit in the corner
of the offensive zone… drove hard to the net and took the puck with him,
making it a 3-1 game early in the second… created an offensive zone
turnover off Dan Hamhuis and put a dangerous shot on net… made a great
move on Radim Vrbata in the offensive zone to draw a tripping penalty in
the dying minutes of the third… made a lovely defensive play in
overtime to neutralize the negative effects of a Schultz turnover… he
played less than 10 minutes but made them all count; he looks like a
different player (in a good way) in all three zones than the guy we saw
last season.

It’s two games, and kids don’t develop in a straight line. Still, with a young man of Nail’s talent level, the cream usually rises to the top. That could be what we’re seeing this season, and if it happens Oiler fans will have to increase their expectations of player and team.

Nail Yakupov is on his way to being a bona fide NHL player. That’s a very good thing.

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  • Jayz

    Forwards look fine. Can MM come back now so we can have our top pairing back ? Please? If I remember correctly Prongs didn’t look to good his first 10 games with the team. Takes time for D men to acclimate to systems and teammates.

    Bring back MM, shelter fayne and Nitkinin till their better IMO.

    • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

      But grammar on facebook / twitter / comments drives me nuts.
      Should be “too” good. Not “to” good.
      Should be “they’re” better. Not “Their”

  • camdog

    Eberle is actually an alien. He will be back in his body soon and all will be well. I heard that from a reliable source, my best friends uncle on his moms sides barber who knows Ryan Jones hairdresser who like bike lanes.

  • Lowetide

    Agree no reason to move him off a line that is clicking well. I know we’re all down on Ebs and Yak is playing like he deserves top line minutes, but if he’s producing facing the competition he’s getting, why screw that up?

    Out of all things to go right, I would never had guessed lines 2 – 4 would be the strong part of the team.

  • D'oh-ilers

    I’ve been impressed by his hustle and his eagerness to work harder in the defensive end. He’ll likely never win a Selke, but the fact the message got through that he needs to work harder is encouraging.

    • Craig1981

      What are you doing talking about hockey and the actual article here?!?!

      Didn’t you hear? This is now a forum for Spydyr and SeriuslyGord to debate unions, economics, and the effect birth control has had in Africa.

      ……its kinda like watching 2 cats play with a laser pointer

  • Serious Gorg

    I would love to see how many comments Brownlee deletes in an average article.
    And yes, if my mother were reading over my shoulder I would still post this comment.

    • As many as I see fit.

      Herb is blocked and he’s done plenty to earn it. He can roll IPs and do whatever he wants to get around it. Posts that get through will be removed. He’s done, one way or another.

      If he wants a second opinion he’s free to contact the admins or me and state his case.

      • Grant

        Sometimes I find Brownlee to be a little over sensitive with anyone disagreeing his views, but I agree that comments left unchecked would turn this site into an irrelevant blog scrapping mess. So keep the nonsense out and keep talking hockey.

    • Spydyr

      IMO anytime, anywhere intelligent discussion involving opposing viewpoints takes place it is never off topic.

      No one is making anyone read anything they do not want too.

      • ThinkingOutLoud

        One thing to keep in mind is desparity cycle has been ever present throughout our socioeconomic evolution as a species. Empires rise and while those most adept at the game acquire weath and power. Once the desparity becomes too great and the masses become fed up it leads to revolt and change, and history is littered with examples. It could be argued that we are even mimicking nature itself with these cycles; destruction and rebirth, ice ages, tides etc…

        Such will always be the case until we evolve a little more and leave behind the equally destructive concepts of greed (extreme capitalism) and entitlement (extreme socialism) and truly embrace the better sides of both ideologies, namely the concepts of: hard work and the common good.

        Just my 2 cents anyway.

        Now back to hockey!


        • Spydyr

          Great points and I could not agree more especially for the love of Yak.

          I think this quote says it best.

          “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

        • Serious Gord

          Substitute the term crony for extreme and I think you are on the mark.

          And the oilers are the most crony-ridden of any team in the league which make them weaker in an openly competitve system like the NHL.

  • camdog

    Yaks’ game improved when he moved to a traditional hockey number.

    Petry’s game improved when he moved to a traditional hockey number.

    Leon understood this process and now is collecting a NHL salary.

    Marincin, Klefbom, Nurse, Pitlick and so sure Lander should demand real hockey number.

    Just saying…..

  • Grant

    Slow down about Yak it’s only been two games . I want to see him succeed just as much as anyone. I hope he’s on the right path . I Lille his attitude he just want to have fun and play .

  • Grant

    I spend a good portion if my free time reading both print and online and most of this reading is related to hockey or the varying fields of economics. I would have expected that I would be thrilled when these two paths crossed as they have today on this thread. However, it is only merely humorous to read self proclaimed experts in the field of hockey and sports management extend their domain to macro economics and urban planning as well.

    I’d actually like to hear what NewAgeSys has to add to the debate over the merits of bike lanes and closed shop unions.

    • bwar

      I was a REBEL Union Steward voted in on the Job-Site by the Members against the wishes of my crooked Union Hall who ALWAYS sent out sock-hole Flunkys so no one with tangible power really rocks the boat,some of the Brothers had been in the Hall for well over 20 years and had never seen that rule invoked or actioned properly and sucessfully on-site,they never should have given me acess to the “book” .That was my FIRST YEAR kinda like the StickBoy learning the ropes well enough fast enough to legitimately elevate himself to G.M in one year ,but things are a bit hazy now.lets take a crack at putting Closed Shop Unions in a light which we can also shine on the Oilers in some meaningfull way,I seem to remember giving this some thought not so long ago.If I am off-base anywhere with the Union Speil forgive me its been a while and I have had no intentions of re-visiting the dynamic so I have been willfully letting the memories slip thankfully away,please correct anything I have missed the boat on.

      Closed Shop Unions are catalysed by the creation and implementation of Collective Agreements.

      Collective agreements in effect are a way for Employer and Employees to willfully and in agreement ABBROGATE nearly all labor laws as applied to everyone else on both ends of the spectrum .

      In place of existing work and job related legeslation the stakeholders agree to a process of binding arbitration to settle disputes brought forward under the terms of the Collective.There is the option for the major Stakeholders to litigate the interpretation and applications of said Collective if they feel other Stakeholders hve failed to hold their part of the agreement up,but this is very expensive and rare.

      The real puropose of the Collective Agreement is to in a legal manner abbrogate the traditionlly defined employee rights of the individual employee.This reduces friction litigation ect and “greases the Wheels” to get big jobs done without the many and varied traditional challenges which existing traditional employee rights legeslation supports.

      Everyone agrees to not sue each other in essence.

      To “grease the Rails’ fiscally construed concessions are made by both sides.

      No one goes after the Employer and the Employees are helped to screw every system they can,no one is generlly fired,everyone gets “laid off” giving them easy acess to E.I,if anyone is fired the Union Hall Glad-hands them an equitable job to immediatly replace their income stream and hush things up,there are MANY things done most people would not believe.There is drug testing but it is often pre-employment giving the men lots pre-test notice or time to cheat,and after that no testing is done unless a safety issue comes up,but this process is abbrogated because everyone knows you can quit and never be tested as long as you quit as soon as the infraction is documented BEFORE you willingly submit to a test post incident,then after you quit the Union Hall Glad-hands you another job and there is no black mark on your work history.

      Unions and collective agreements essentially remove the traditional processes and accountability factors which many decades of hard earned case law decisions have put in place to protect Workers from Employer abuses.

      The stakeholder endorsed collective agreement stops accountability from being pinned to any single level of Employer managerial influence within the structure using any form of traditional legal process.Binding mediation is the only consequence the employer faces if the Collective Agreement is breached and employees are screwed with the exception of a full out challenge of the overall appliction of the Collective itself by a Stakeholder Party{Union or Employer}.All secondary disputes arising from concerns of individuals are internlly glad-handed away using fiscal support beneficial to the wronged individuls within the Stakeholder Group/Employees.

      This Collective Agreement impact …is exactly what the Round Table was trying to replicate and it was not coincidence the Round Table was formed,it is easy to see what type of mind helped set the dynamic up,a legal mind familiar with working within the parameters of Collective Agreements who understands the fundmentals of how Collective Agreements work but is farrr from proficient in weilding the concepts creatively.Kind of like a kid with a loaded Gun.This person didnt understand enough about how these Agreements FAIL ,they understood how the Agreements benefit their interests but did not have the depth of acumen or experience to understand the inherant weaknesses and prepare accordingly.

      This is why Tchakev was waylayed,someone wasnt properly interpreting the articles of the Collective Agreement in totality,they were taking it one baby step at a time.They understood the benefits of individul process steps but didnt invest enough time learning about the conceptual weaknesses of the entire process.Tunnel Vision maybe.Horse before the Cart action.

      The Round Table at ALL COSTS did not want to allow individual levels of the managerial super-structure to be singled-out and in ny impactfull way be traditionally valuated and through that valuation process become accountable.

      The Round Table actioned this program by agreeing as Managerial stakeholders to not follow traditional processes but instead to willingly abrrogate set processes and in one form or another accept binding arbitration or fiscal reward in lieu of from someone?Katz.This is how it went down IMHO.Everyone put their defences{traditional legal supports}down and trusted katz to back them up,but it didnt work out,and I can show you why and what could have been done to prevent the melt-down but it would take to long to do it here.This is of course guesswork and opinionating.

      I thought there were interesting paralells between how a Collective Agreement works and how the Round Table worked in terms of impacts.I wonder if the Managers are in a Union and how the Hall felt about the Round Table Agreement? Must have been interesting if they are Unionized.One would hate to think that O.E.G is simply a more evolved method of creating a similar impact,but this time cutting out an even bigger stakeholder than the fans.

  • Today , sitting out from practice , are 3 Oilers – Hopkins, Eberle and Purcell . Each now listed as day to day . Yakimov called up and Klefbom sent down to AHL after playing RW in practice . Sounds like Gazdik close to returning as he was at practice today . Two games in 2 nights , and are injuries going to mount with another Canuck game 2 days after that ? Yak it up boys .

  • bwar

    Just Wow! I only read Lowetide’s post on here this morning and the first comment was on the third page.

    Did it have any relevance to Lowetide’s words on Yakupov? None.

    Instead I see some assinine, pseudo political posts on leftists and cycling, ad nauseum.

    What a bunch of idiots! Go the the Edmonton Sun’s website and troll there. The posters there spew out baloney in a much more eloquent fashion than here.

    That is all.

  • Serious Gord

    Yak gets 3 goals tonight , as we may only have 2 RWingers in Yak and Joensuee . Purcell and Eberle could be out , and Yak should get 30 minutes or more playing time .

    P.S.: New Age makes a lot of wrongfull statements and assumptions in his union article , but I will not waste this blog to point all aspects out .

    • Hey, I’m just impressed that you took the time to read that garbage. Some of the guys here @ ON are so off topic, they might as well be calling into CBC Radio 1 or down at city hall complaining.

      p.s., nice joke about 30minutes for yak….remember, its still eakins behind the bench! 17 tops!

  • I think players who are already on the team, and have been around awhile, tend to wait until the end of the pre-season and start of the regular season to ramp it up.

    Oddly, Eakins didn’t ice his regular season line up until game 1. If Eberle is a little rusty or off-kilter, it shouldn’t be a surprise. imo