TALKING THE TALK

Robin Brownlee
July 29 2014 03:47PM

Nail Yakupov

It goes without saying that talking the talk is one thing and walking the walk is quite another, but Nail Yakupov was saying all the right things when he met with members of the media at a hockey school being put on by the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday.

Coming off a disappointing sophomore season in which he finished with 24 points in 63 games after managing 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games as a rookie, Yakupov was upbeat as he looked ahead to what stands to be an important year in his young NHL career.

With one year left on his entry level contract, Yakupov wasn’t nearly as interested in rehashing an often-difficult season of growing pains under rookie coach Dallas Eakins as he was in looking ahead to 2014-15.

After taking some time off with family and friends in Russia, Yakupov is back in Edmonton and back on the blades getting a head start that’ll likely go a long way in determining where he fits, or doesn’t, in the plans looking ahead.

READY TO GO

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"It might be a huge year for me and that's why I'm here -- to work on some things and to be here and train," Yakupov told a scrum of reporters. "I just want to be ready for the season.

“I'm going to be doing some different things this year. I feel more comfortable here than training at home. That's why I'm here and I will train with the Oilers prospects and the other NHL players that will come."

On the shelf at the end of the season after taking a Justin Schultz shot off the foot March 16, Yakupov says the foot is fine and he’s getting into a regular skating and training routine. He’ll be in the mix during skating sessions as players begin filtering back into town and will take part in the annual three-on-three camp put on by Perry Pearn in preparation for training camp.

Looking ahead, the obvious challenge for Yakupov – at least in the eyes of Eakins and the coaching staff -- is improving his defensive awareness and positional play away from the puck. That was a bone of contention between Eakins and Yakupov all season.

BUYING IN

Dallas Eakins 4

"I'm doing everything I can in order to do that," he said. "I'm pushing myself hard and I'll work 100 percent every day in order to get better. We'll see what it's going to be like this year.

“I promise I'll work hard, play 100 percent every day. I hope it's going to be good for me and good for the team. We have to play better than we did last year, so we'll see how it goes."

I’ve said in the past that Eakins and Yakupov have to get on the same page as it pertains to expectations for the coming season, and that’s likely a discussion that’ll unfold before training camp. That’s a distant second, though, to letting actions do your talking.

Seems to me Yakupov is already getting a head start on that and adding some weight to his words with the preparation he’s doing with August not yet upon us. A good sign.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
July 30 2014, 08:38AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

So, you're the hindsight guy.

The Oilers thought enough of Clarkson to offer him more money than he took to go to Toronto, so they wanted him petty badly. Of course, Clarkson had a terrible year and didn't look anything like a guy worthy of the big ticket he ended up getting. Likewise, Yakupov didn't look much like a first overall pick last season, either.

The "in a hearbeat" reference you cite was in response to a scenario put forward by Jason Gregor, just in case you're looking for context -- which I doubt.

Seems to me your first two paragraphs were throwaways setting up the dig you wanted to take a me. Next time you're looking to take a shot, get right to it and we'll go from there.

I'm not here to take a dig at you. I'll choose my words carefully so I can continue to have the priviledge of writing here.

My first thought was that I agree with the premise of the article that it is time for Yak to start delivering and for him and Eakins to get on the same page.

My second thought was that I believe the onus is on Eakins to get the most out of Yak. Yak has shown the willingness to work and Eakins needs to harness his talent. This was not something emphasized in your piece and begins to show our difference of opinion.

My third thought is that while we mostly agree on the subject, historically I believe you have undervalued Yakupov. I could have linked to the article that you originally wrote, your tweet, or your article defending your opinion more recently, but honestly that seemed like a lot of work and I don't get paid to write here. I used the quote that I remembered most clearly thinking that people who read your writing (as I do) would understand the reference.

I made a specific point of saying that everyone can have their opinion on the matter. That's what makes this whole thing interesting and can keep us thinking about hockey when it is late July and +30.

Please don't ask for me to "take a shot directly and we'll go from there" when it comes to expressing how my opinion differs from yours. I've read this blog for long enough to know that people who don't offer anything to the conversation beyond digs at the writers often get their posts deleted and/or banned.

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#52 TRAINRECK
July 30 2014, 09:01AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Well one positive change for yak is he won't be watching two mature defensive liabilities playing out there - hemsky and gagner are gone - while he gets benched.

For whatever reason Eakins and his assistants last year couldn't get them to consistently play a two way game. Now they are gone as are the assistant coaches. Hard to see that not being a change for the better.

Yak needs a center with play making panache and an ability to play a two way game that sets the standard for him to follow. Gagner certainly wasn't that. RNH isn't fully developed yet and certainly draisaitl isn't. Thus yak may still flounder around out there and try Eakins seemingly very finite patience. He needs to get off to an excellent start. Other wise I fear both Eakins and many fans will want him gone.

Coach better figure it out , or he will be the one gone.

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#53 Lenny
July 30 2014, 09:37AM
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BobbyCanuck wrote:

"It;s been a long time since we had a one shot shooter"

All I can think of is

Jari Kurri Bill Guiren

And I may not be correct about Billy, I seem to remember he had a wicked one-timer

Who else? We must have had more?

Nedved.

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#54 Hemmercules
July 30 2014, 10:52AM
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After what Yakupov said last year about not having to skate and back check etc. and his agent spouting off about trading him, I sincerely hope his recent words hold weight. Sounds like he wants to be here and is working hard towards having a solid year.

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#55 Sorensenator
July 30 2014, 12:15PM
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Hemmercules wrote:

After what Yakupov said last year about not having to skate and back check etc. and his agent spouting off about trading him, I sincerely hope his recent words hold weight. Sounds like he wants to be here and is working hard towards having a solid year.

But back checking not game! Yakupov shoot goal make panty drop 3 times game.

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#56 Robin Brownlee
July 30 2014, 01:56PM
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@Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

Fair enough. Thanks for taking the time to clarify.

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#57 camdog
July 30 2014, 03:02PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Get a grip. Reference was about players with remarkable offensive talent. Omark certainly had that. Try some context.

Omark's 27 and his NHL career is all but over. Yakopov is 20 and has already scored 28 goals compared to Omarks grand total of 8. To compare the 2 is out of context in my opinion.

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#58 Robin Brownlee
July 30 2014, 06:21PM
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camdog wrote:

Omark's 27 and his NHL career is all but over. Yakopov is 20 and has already scored 28 goals compared to Omarks grand total of 8. To compare the 2 is out of context in my opinion.

Have it your way.

Forget about an entire item essentially giving Yakupov credit for taking steps to prepare for the coming season and fixate on interpreting my response to somebody in the comments section as a "lowe blow" directed at Yakupov.

Not going to argue further. Don't need to.

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#59 Harry
July 30 2014, 10:40PM
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Chunkylover69@google.ca wrote:

We have all have seen tons of Russian premadonas over the years... And this sir's it not one of them. He's a good kid. Don't mistake confidence for arrogance. This is a future leader..

Am I mistaken or did Yak not request a trade at the first sight of adversity in his very short career?

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#60 Harry
July 30 2014, 10:43PM
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blainer wrote:

I'm gonna move on from the Eakins vs Yak. That will get fixed very soon. I find it most interesting that Draisaitl and Yak are living together. First class move for yak to offer up his place to LD. This can be nothing but good as well with Yak2. Sounds like Yak squared and LD are on a mission to make the team by training together. I do believe Draisaitl will make the team based on how hard he is working and what Stauffer is saying. What would be a nice surprise is if Yak2 comes in and actually out plays all the competition and earns a spot. I am not expecting it but it could happen.

Out playing Lander should be a given. Out playing Arcobello could and should be very doable for a guy like Yakimov.

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#61 Harry
July 30 2014, 10:46PM
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Fili wrote:

This is so exciting to hear. Yakityyak and LD living together. I hope Yak - tower comes out of the gates ablazing that would be two big capable centers behind RNH. Plus I think it will be good to have 3 Ruskies on the team it will give each of them someone to lean on when home sick. This season can't come any sooner.

"Yakkityak!"

BRILLIANT

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#62 the ghost of dr loomis
July 31 2014, 11:45AM
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.

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#63 nugeformayor
August 01 2014, 11:12AM
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i hope Eakins gets fired within the first ten games and ramsey takes over Eakins got his payday for being a slick talking American.

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#64 Willi P
August 01 2014, 12:20PM
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Of course he is saying all of the right things. Two words, Contract Year. That is all.

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#65 Joy S. Lee
August 04 2014, 05:36PM
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I think the Russian kid is going to be really determined this year. He usually plays well when he is determined, and he might even have the heart of a lion, if he ever gets some momentum behind him.

The concerns I have are his references to working hard to hone his physical, on-ice game, but I haven't heard any signifying he might also be learning what the systems mean, and that sort of thing. To me, he needs to know that stuff to be successful. I hope it's part of the ongoing study, that's all, otherwise he has the ability to make us forget about his defensive shortcomings for a while, but if he doesn't do his game film work, he's going to have some hiccups, that's all there is to it.

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