2014-15 Goals Projection: Nail Yakupov

Jonathan Willis
July 25 2014 01:16PM

64-Yakupov-5

Nail Yakupov is the most interesting player on the Edmonton Oilers roster because he is still something of a mystery. He has high-end skill – his first overall selection in the 2012 Draft was no accident – and led all rookies in scoring in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. On the other hand, things went very, very, badly last season.

What should we expect from him in the goal-scoring department in 2014-15?

For those interested in a brief explanation of this series, see the first post in it (on Taylor Hall). Just a reminder about two things: I’m not projecting breakout seasons here (though they happen) and “comparables” are just the players inhabiting roughly the same roster position on the eight Western Conference playoff teams, and that empty-net goals are not included.

Games & Usage

64-Yakupov-10

It didn’t get a lot of attention, what with the minus-33 rating and occasional healthy scratches, but poor health was definitely part of the Yakupov story last year. TSN has him down as missing 16 games in all to ankle and head injuries after being the picture of health in 2012-13. Let’s peg him to miss half that, eight games, in 2014-15.

Yakupov’s ice time over the last two years has been virtually identical. He played 12.1 minutes per game at even strength in both 2012-13 and 2013-14; betting on him to be in that range again seems likely. His power play ice time fell from 2:28 per game in 2012-13 to 2:10 in 2013-14. I have a hunch we’ll see him bounce back to that 2012-13 number (or higher), but let’s play it conservative and split the difference at 2:19.

Goal-Scoring Curve

Yakupov’s shot rates at even-strength and on the power play over his two NHL seasons (via ExtraSkater.com) are as follow:

Age % of Peak EV Shots/60 PP Shots/60
19 83.3% 5.4 11.2
20 86.7% 7.0 13.8
Projected 90.0% 6.6 13.2

Despite the poor campaign, Yakupov’s shot rates spiked at both even-strength and on the power play in 2013-14, and they spiked more than our aging curve expected. That’s good news, and suggests the projection here may well be on the conservative side.

Using the above games played and ice time projections, Yakupov is expected to fire 98 shots at even strength and an additional 38 on the power play.

On his career he’s a 12.5 percent shooter at even-strength. Given that his career only consists of 136 shots in those situations, normally I’d dial that number down, but my eyes tell me this guy is a special finisher (not just my eyes, either; Red Line Report marked him as having the best shot in the 2012 draft and described him as having “tremendous release on a heavy shot… and can fit it through a keyhole”). If I’m right in leaving the shooting percentage as is, we would expect 12 goals at even-strength.

Yakupov’s power play shooting percentage on his career is 17.3 percent; my best guess is that it makes sense to move that halfway back toward his even-strength number, which would make him a 14.9 percent shooter. If that number is accurate, we would expect six goals on the power play.

Total: 18 goals. It’s not a great number for a first overall pick’s third season, though it is a big step up from last season’s 11-goal outing. Yakupov’s going to be awfully hard to predict – he could go anywhere from first unit power play to less ice time than last year, and at evens he’ll either benefit from the improvements on the wing or see them cut into his opportunities.

Comparables

  • Anaheim: Jakob Silfverberg (10)
  • Colorado: Maxime Talbot (7)
  • St. Louis: Derek Roy (9)
  • San Jose: James Sheppard (4)
  • Chicago: Kris Versteeg (12)
  • Los Angeles: Tyler Toffoli (11)
  • Minnesota: Dany Heatley (11)
  • Dallas: Antoine Roussel (13)

    Average: 10 goals.

Derek Roy’s name is going to raise a few eyebrows, but he spent a bunch of time on the ice with Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka, so he’s slotted as a winger here rather than as one of the Blues’ four centres (the other two are David Backes and Max Lapierre).

As a rule, even good NHL teams don’t get a lot of goal-scoring out of their No. 6 winger, but the Oilers are a special case. It’s a good thing, too – as we’ll see when we look at their second and third line centres next time out.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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
#51 Oiler Al
July 25 2014, 06:00PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
53
cheers

Yak needs to put his big boy pants on and get here done on the other side of the puck. He's got to show that he is trying and working hard on his game.

Think he would gain more confidence if the coach treated him like he is one of the core guys.

By eye on the ice, the core fab four don't give him the high fves and huggies like they do for themselves. IF Hall wants to be the captain one day , he has to know that there are other players on team , other than Eberle, Nuge, and Schultz.

Avatar
#52 Ryan
July 25 2014, 06:01PM
Trash it!
15
trashes
Cheers
21
cheers

If yak gets more then 25 goals the oilers make the playoffs . I have faith I'll take yak at 27 this season

Avatar
#53 Asian on Oilers Nation
July 25 2014, 06:12PM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

@Dan 1919

I actually like the sound of our goal horn.

Avatar
#54 Alsker
July 25 2014, 06:28PM
Trash it!
19
trashes
Cheers
23
cheers

Yaks' numbers will be directly impacted by how long Egghead(sorry, Eakins) is his coach. If only MacT would have given Ralphy this supporting group of coaches maybe things would have been different for the Yakster. Oh well, as long as Eakins needs someone to blame for his inabilities, Yak will will falter. Been cheering on the boys since the days of the orange and blue(WHL uniforms)and for the first time ever I truly hope they fall flat on their faces to start the season so MacT has no choice but to turf Egghead(guy just rubs me the wrong way), and from there we excel to mid 20's(maybe high teens) in the league. This would be a giant step in the right direction.

Avatar
#55 Greenwolf
July 25 2014, 06:42PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
26
cheers
Alsker wrote:

Yaks' numbers will be directly impacted by how long Egghead(sorry, Eakins) is his coach. If only MacT would have given Ralphy this supporting group of coaches maybe things would have been different for the Yakster. Oh well, as long as Eakins needs someone to blame for his inabilities, Yak will will falter. Been cheering on the boys since the days of the orange and blue(WHL uniforms)and for the first time ever I truly hope they fall flat on their faces to start the season so MacT has no choice but to turf Egghead(guy just rubs me the wrong way), and from there we excel to mid 20's(maybe high teens) in the league. This would be a giant step in the right direction.

Not a fan of Eakins but I think Yak's skill will exceed Eakins incompetence this year. Go Yak city get us those 20 plus goals!!

Avatar
#56 Britts94
July 25 2014, 06:43PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers

So far, Jon's estimates have the Oilers with 133 goals from Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Perron, Yak, Pouliot, and Purcell. With the 2nd line C a massive clusterf***, he (whoever he may be) could add anywhere from 10-25 goals. Let's say 17 to put it in the middle. That gives the Oilers 150 goals from the top 2 lines plus 1. Last year, the Oil had 199 goals for in the season. Will the 3rd and 4th lines be able to put up 50 goals in one season? Even with MacT's "3 scoring lines" mentality, it seems like our beloved Oilers might not even reach their total GF from last year. Yikes. Of course, this is all based on estimation, which has been long-proven a stupid thing to do from a hockey fan's standpoint.

Avatar
#57 Lowe Expectations
July 25 2014, 06:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
28
cheers

Yak is easily the most difficult player to predict goals for. The problem with all these fancy statistics is they can't measure a players confidence, mindset & health. However, it would be difficult to believe he could have a worse season than last year.

Avatar
#58 K_Mart
July 25 2014, 07:39PM
Trash it!
17
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers

40g

PERIOD

Avatar
#59 bulldog12
July 25 2014, 08:00PM
Trash it!
11
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
Woogie63 wrote:

Yak, needs;

a) a Centre to get him the puck in great shooting zones. RNH or missing this....

b) a LW that is committed to being back to defend our end. Lots of options .....

c) a dman with a sweet breakout pass A few more options.....

d) Eakins to coach for success v. impose his will. Big concern ....

Yak needs to get his head out of his arse and commit to a 200 ft game. This is the NHL where you can't cherry pick at the red line and expect your line mates to do all the work. He needs a centre man to get him the puck or the dman to make the sweet passes and his winger to cover his ass because he wants to float around and just score goals. What a bunch of bull. Madjam got it right, go back and read his post.

Avatar
#60 Spydyr
July 25 2014, 08:18PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
17
cheers
K_Mart wrote:

40g

PERIOD

You do know only three players scored over 40 goals last year.

Care to rethink that prediction?

Avatar
#61 Taylor Gang
July 25 2014, 08:19PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Britts94 wrote:

So far, Jon's estimates have the Oilers with 133 goals from Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Perron, Yak, Pouliot, and Purcell. With the 2nd line C a massive clusterf***, he (whoever he may be) could add anywhere from 10-25 goals. Let's say 17 to put it in the middle. That gives the Oilers 150 goals from the top 2 lines plus 1. Last year, the Oil had 199 goals for in the season. Will the 3rd and 4th lines be able to put up 50 goals in one season? Even with MacT's "3 scoring lines" mentality, it seems like our beloved Oilers might not even reach their total GF from last year. Yikes. Of course, this is all based on estimation, which has been long-proven a stupid thing to do from a hockey fan's standpoint.

Jon also used very conservative numbers...

Avatar
#62 Spydyr
July 25 2014, 08:20PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers

The more important thing than how many goals Yak scores is how much his game evolves away from the puck and his ability to play with and use his teammates.

Avatar
#63 Reg Dunlop
July 25 2014, 09:09PM
Trash it!
33
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

How many goals for comrade Yak? Depends. Are we including the 1 goal he scores in OKC after being sent down? How about the dozen he pots in the KHL after bolting like a Bolshevik?

Avatar
#64 Rem Murray for president
July 25 2014, 09:29PM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

Because the oil will be playing with the lead far more frequently, Yak will not have the looming pressure of defensive perfection. Confidence will result from a more suitable style and we could see a resurrection of the Yak from the 12-13 season

Avatar
#65 madjam
July 25 2014, 09:58PM
Trash it!
21
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Perron not listed in Westcott column on Oilers site as a carry over to this year . HMMM- An error/omission on his part , or is there a trade involving Perron coming soon ? Perhaps with Montreal involving Galchenyuk(C) plus ?

Avatar
#66 Sorensenator
July 25 2014, 10:05PM
Trash it!
28
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers

If Yakupov has a break out year and the team only improves by a few places in the standings I say package him for a solid centre or Dman

Avatar
#67 admiralmark
July 25 2014, 10:10PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers

It's so difficult to predict this player right now. He has all the necessary tools to one day be a 40 goal scorer. But his issue appears to be reading the plays, understanding the systems, and putting himself in the right position to receive a pass and get his howitzer of a shot off. I can't tell if he's just too over zealous out there or if communication is the main hinderance with this player?

In my mind what Eakins/MacT/ Coaching staff do or not do is going to tell us a lot about their abilities as much as Yaks. Get him tuned in and this could be a very different team this year.

Avatar
#68 Geoff
July 25 2014, 10:53PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers
Rem Murray for president wrote:

Because the oil will be playing with the lead far more frequently, Yak will not have the looming pressure of defensive perfection. Confidence will result from a more suitable style and we could see a resurrection of the Yak from the 12-13 season

12-13 season only?!

My predict is that once Yakupov finds his groove he will crazy explode offensively.

Just looking at the goals in vid those are some pretty good goals and he does so in such a way it's like my god this kid is gonna be awesome.

But yea your 100% right. Our continually improving defence should mentally lighten the load for Yakupov.

Avatar
#69 Geoff
July 25 2014, 10:54PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers
Sorensenator wrote:

If Yakupov has a break out year and the team only improves by a few places in the standings I say package him for a solid centre or Dman

Pfft we should package you for a solid center or dman!

Avatar
#70 Harman
July 25 2014, 10:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

Can you do an article on Derick Brassard as a possible target for the Oilers I might be a little hopeful but he could definitely help fill the void at centre

Avatar
#71 Dan 1919
July 25 2014, 11:07PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
Asian on Oilers Nation wrote:

I actually like the sound of our goal horn.

I think it's time for Oilers.com to do a poll and find out if the fans are happy with it. Seems to be quite polarizing and it shouldn't. It's easy enough to get a goal horn that 75% of the people like without even thinking about it.

We're Oiler fans, we need all the gimme entertainment we can get.

Avatar
#72 Dwayne Roloson 35
July 26 2014, 12:12AM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

yaks will pull a bit of a stamkos and score 51 next year. book it.

all seriousness though, 20 goals playing 3rd line minutes would be great.im happy with 20G20A. i think he can produce at that level. hes apparently training a lot this off season. i think he will bounch back. it could propel us into the playoffs. we were almost a .500 team in the lockout season and we were close to .500 in the last half of this season. mediocre defence plus young stars improving plus 2 years of the same head coach could get us a playoff spot IMO.

Avatar
#73 bazmagoo
July 26 2014, 12:17AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

I really hope Nail brings it this season, he's got the potential to be a superstar. He seems to have a pretty solid work ethic but he seems to be lacking a little physically in my opinion (mainly skating speed). If he can bridge that gap the guy's gonna be a superstar in my opinion.

Avatar
#74 A-Mc
July 26 2014, 12:47AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Britts94 wrote:

So far, Jon's estimates have the Oilers with 133 goals from Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Perron, Yak, Pouliot, and Purcell. With the 2nd line C a massive clusterf***, he (whoever he may be) could add anywhere from 10-25 goals. Let's say 17 to put it in the middle. That gives the Oilers 150 goals from the top 2 lines plus 1. Last year, the Oil had 199 goals for in the season. Will the 3rd and 4th lines be able to put up 50 goals in one season? Even with MacT's "3 scoring lines" mentality, it seems like our beloved Oilers might not even reach their total GF from last year. Yikes. Of course, this is all based on estimation, which has been long-proven a stupid thing to do from a hockey fan's standpoint.

The goal totals dont include empty net goals and a few other things. 150 goals isnt the total goals, its only the total EV and PP

Avatar
#75 Walter Sobchak
July 26 2014, 01:25AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Yak's a beauty, he'll rebound and bring honour to the number 10.

*but damn, I have to buy two more jerseys *

Avatar
#76 Jason Gregor
July 26 2014, 06:43AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers
Britts94 wrote:

So far, Jon's estimates have the Oilers with 133 goals from Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Perron, Yak, Pouliot, and Purcell. With the 2nd line C a massive clusterf***, he (whoever he may be) could add anywhere from 10-25 goals. Let's say 17 to put it in the middle. That gives the Oilers 150 goals from the top 2 lines plus 1. Last year, the Oil had 199 goals for in the season. Will the 3rd and 4th lines be able to put up 50 goals in one season? Even with MacT's "3 scoring lines" mentality, it seems like our beloved Oilers might not even reach their total GF from last year. Yikes. Of course, this is all based on estimation, which has been long-proven a stupid thing to do from a hockey fan's standpoint.

Are you saying the blueline won't score any goals?

Last year they scored 30 goals, but only three on the PP. With the addition of Nikitin and Schultz another year older they will score more than three PP goals.

So that leaves the 3rd line C and 4th lines to score a total of 20 goals. (You can't say the 3rd line when you included Pouliot and Purcell in your 133 totals).

JW also didn't include EN goals, Oilers scored 8 last year, so toss in another 8 goals and based JW's projections the Oilers are on pace to score more than last year.

The Oilers were the 24th in goals scored last year last year. They damn well better score more goals this season.

Avatar
#77 Spydyr
July 26 2014, 08:10AM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yak's a beauty, he'll rebound and bring honour to the number 10.

*but damn, I have to buy two more jerseys *

If you give your hard earned money to the Oilers at this time, you are part of the problem.

Avatar
#78 camdog
July 26 2014, 08:34AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

@Jason Gregor

To be fair if they go into next season without another proven centre, I'd say it's 50-50 that they'll score more goals then last season. That said I do expect their to be an addition or two before the season starts.

Avatar
#79 camdog
July 26 2014, 08:39AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
17
cheers

Brett Hull was 24-25 before anybody knew where he was at. Not saying that Yakopov is Brett Hull as he could just as easily turn into a flop, but his deficiencies are identical.

Avatar
#80 Serious Gord
July 26 2014, 09:29AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Taylor Gang wrote:

Jon also used very conservative numbers...

Numbers based on not knowing who the 2c is going to be. And assuming no one on the top two lines get seriously injured and is out for much if the season.

So they may or may not be conservative in hindsight 84 games from now.

Avatar
#81 Serious Gord
July 26 2014, 09:43AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers
Jason Gregor wrote:

Are you saying the blueline won't score any goals?

Last year they scored 30 goals, but only three on the PP. With the addition of Nikitin and Schultz another year older they will score more than three PP goals.

So that leaves the 3rd line C and 4th lines to score a total of 20 goals. (You can't say the 3rd line when you included Pouliot and Purcell in your 133 totals).

JW also didn't include EN goals, Oilers scored 8 last year, so toss in another 8 goals and based JW's projections the Oilers are on pace to score more than last year.

The Oilers were the 24th in goals scored last year last year. They damn well better score more goals this season.

32 more goals puts them in the top ten in scoring last year. Hard to see how one can be confident they can do that with the current center situation.

And at 267 GA - dead last - the real issue shouldn't be gF but GA. And again the weakness down the middle and the unknown/unproven in net make confident predictions impossible.

If EDM can end the season with the same ga as gf it will be a huge achievement for the roster as it's currently configured.

Avatar
#82 camdog
July 26 2014, 11:12AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Serious Gord wrote:

Numbers based on not knowing who the 2c is going to be. And assuming no one on the top two lines get seriously injured and is out for much if the season.

So they may or may not be conservative in hindsight 84 games from now.

They went back to the 84 game season?

Avatar
#83 Walter Sobchak
July 26 2014, 12:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

If you give your hard earned money to the Oilers at this time, you are part of the problem.

I actually propped you on that!!

It's a sickness I have, it's what I call Oiler addiction.

Avatar
#84 Fili
July 26 2014, 01:56PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

I think with the addition of Craig Ramsay, Yak Will have a great bounce back season. From all reports I'm hearing he's working hard on his skating trying to get faster. Which will help him with his back checking. He knows if he wants the puck more he's going to have to take it from someone's stick. Ramsay will get a first hand look at the kids skills and use him on the power play he has a Hull of a shot.

What I don't get is why everyone wants to give up on this kid so much. His personality is jubilant, but you can tell he's one of those players that needs a little coddling. He needs to know he's accepted and needed on this team. And he is needed on this team. He could be a future 30-40 goal scorer. People need to relax on this guy and see what he can do at a full 100% season.

Avatar
#85 Oiler Al
July 26 2014, 02:39PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

Heck L.A., scored 198 goals last season, one less than the Oilers.

Why weren't the Oilers in the playoffs...

Forgot.. they had 267 goals against! Got the NHL trophy for it. L.A., had 168 goals against. That's where the cookie crumbles for the Oilers.. play a better defense game and you will win.

Wild were in the playoffs, with 199 goals and 198 against.

Philly, Ottawa, Wash, Tor, Wpg,Det, and NYI, all scored more goals than NYR,yet the Rangers were in the playoffs.

Just saying.

Avatar
#86 Serious Gord
July 26 2014, 07:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@camdog

I make that mistake all the time.

Avatar
#87 Spydyr
July 26 2014, 07:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Walter Sobchak wrote:

I actually propped you on that!!

It's a sickness I have, it's what I call Oiler addiction.

I have been buying team Canada merchandise but my Oiler stuff is starting to wear out.Hope they turn the poop show around soon.I would like to go to a game again it has been three years for me now.

Avatar
#88 K_Mart
July 27 2014, 10:13AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

You do know only three players scored over 40 goals last year.

Care to rethink that prediction?

Yeah, good point.

50g

PERIOD

Avatar
#89 AutoOiler
July 28 2014, 08:43AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
K_Mart wrote:

Yeah, good point.

50g

PERIOD

Why stop at 50?

Yak scores 64.

Changes his number back and ..

And gives the entire NHL the finger. Just like Kovi.

and it would serve us all.

Kid reminds me of Mogilny

Comments are closed for this article.