Robin Brownlee
June 25 2012 07:57PM


It's difficult to read any commentary about Nail Yakupov these days without seeing references to him being confident or cocky. It's a fine line, and often in the eye of the beholder. Whatever you choose to call it, the Edmonton Oilers can use more of it, if you ask me.

If there's a bit of a strut in Yakupov's stride and a degree too much bravado in his words for some (and how can there not be, given the shirt he showed up at EIA in the other day?), that's fine by me, assuming the kid can play. That's no small matter, of course.

That caveat aside, I'm looking forward to my first live look at the dynamic Sarnia Sting winger on the blades when Yakupov and other prospects take to the ice at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park Wednesday – after the team announces who the new head coach is.

Fact is, no young man makes it this close to the NHL without beating long odds and being confident in his abilities, whether the tone is understated or over the top, a place on the scale where a lot of people seem to put Yakupov. I don't see any need for him to be apologetic about being here.

A team that's been out of the playoffs for six straight seasons and beaten down like a band class nerd having his head held in the toilet the past three seasons, in particular, could use some of that, no? I say, bring it on.


From James Mirtle at the Globe and Mail: "Yakupov joins a growing cast of elite young talent in Edmonton that’s led by Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – all of whom were taken in the first round in the past four drafts.

Both Hall and Nugent-Hopkins – the first overall picks in 2010 and 2011 – stepped into the NHL immediately after they were drafted, something Yakupov believes he is prepared for.

"I think yeah, why not?" he said, doing little to dispel his reputation as somewhat cocky. "I have lots of time for work in the summer and work with Edmonton (to) try to make the team. I think I’m ready for the NHL."

From Rob Tychkowski at the Edmonton Sun: "One thing I do know is he’s a very confident kid, he’s a very proud individual," GM Steve Tambellini said. "He had no hesitation telling me he was the No.1 pick.

"I love the confidence, and with that comes the courage to back it up and I don’t think he lacks any courage in his ability, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to see him play with some of our skilled people."

Yakupov thinks he's ready for the NHL? The gall. What a blowhard.


Jason Gregor has long insisted the Oilers are too easy to play against, lack edge and don't piss anybody off. I agree completely. There's no question they've collected an impressive array of young talent in the time they've spent face down in the basement of NHL standings, but whom in the core group, aside from maybe Hall, has some swagger or gets under anybody's skin?

Bob Stauffer put it well the other day, referencing Nugent-Hopkins as a fine young player but somebody who wouldn't say "crap" if his mouth was full of it. I've got a feeling that won’t be the case with Yakupov, and it says here a little confidence worn on the sleeve is not only welcome, but a necessary change-up.

Successful teams need a mix of skill-sets and players willing and capable of taking on different roles. They also, in the name of balance, need a mix of personalities and characters – quiet guys, thoughtful types, holler guys and balls-out types. This team has had too much of the former and not enough of the latter in recent seasons. Now comes Nail.

If Yakupov talks the talk and can walk the walk, filling our notebooks as well as the net (I recall Rob Schremp having the first part down pat but coming up miserably short on results), there's nothing not to like, whether you call him confident or cocky. Wednesday, we get a glimpse of what's to come.

Walk the walk, kid. Strut and all.

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

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Edmonton Oilers issue qualifying offers to Sam Gagner, Devan Dubnyk and five others

Jonathan Willis
June 25 2012 02:58PM

Photograph of Devan Dubnyk by goaliej54 of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.

The Edmonton Oilers have announced via their official website that the team has issued qualifying offers to seven pending restricted free agents. Sam Gagner, Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Alex Plante and Chris Vande Velde all recieved qualifying offers, as did Linus Omark, despite some speculation that the Oilers would cut him lose after failing to trade him at the draft.

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Report: Edmonton Oilers interested in defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson

Jonathan Willis
June 25 2012 01:30PM

It’s been clear for a few weeks now that the Chicago Blackhawks were interested in moving some of their higher-salaried depth defenseman to other teams. On Sunday, a report out of Chicago suggested that the Edmonton Oilers were investigating the possibility of making a pitch for Niklas Hjalmarsson.

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Robin Brownlee
June 24 2012 11:27PM

Edmonton Oilers

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the Edmonton Oilers name Ralph Krueger as their new head coach in the next couple of days. I'll resist a reference to "Oilersnation has learned . . ."

I don't know from first-hand information Krueger has the job because the Oilers have been predictably tight-lipped about the matter since letting Tom Renney walk, and I don't have people slipping me tidbits of information on the down-low like they used to during my days working the beat.

But I know I read or heard somewhere Krueger had the inside track. The problem is, media guys these days are so busy regurgitating information as their own without attribution (and without checking the reliability of it) – that's a pet peeve of mine, dating back awhile – it's easy to lose track. All I know is, if it turns out to be Krueger, I didn't have it first.

Bob Stauffer did. At least he was the first guy -- against a steady flow of talk about Brent Sutter from a lot of people, including me – to insist repeatedly Krueger was a contender. On and on he went, for a couple of weeks at least, on Oilers Now on 630 CHED before the rest of us jumped aboard. The first couple of times I heard it, I thought, "No way." Now? Seems like a pretty good bet, no?


On May 24th I wrote: "Today, Stauffer is hinting associate coach Ralph Krueger should be or is a strong candidate to take over from Tom Renney as head coach. While I'm of the mind Brent Sutter is and should be the leading candidate for the job – my take is based on circumstance and gut-feel rather than inside information – Bombastic Bob has my attention. He should have yours, too."

"My guess is the hangers-on and coat-tail riders in town will be parroting the "Krueger is a serious contender" angle and spinning the idea as their own -- without attribution -- soon enough."

The above was the final paragraph in the May 24 item and what I suggested, predictably and like clockwork, has unfolded over the past couple of weeks or so. "I'm hearing it's Krueger," or "My sources say . . ." Terry Jones did a big feature on Krueger at The Sun. Timely. How many APG's have we heard from what's-her/his-name mentioning Krueger on Twitter?

With everybody wanting the story yesterday, a lot of thumb-typers are bashing off stuff to get it out there first and asking questions later. I've been guilty of that a time or two. Sometimes, too often, accuracy suffers in the name of expediency. Likewise, sometimes who actually gets it right and gets it first -- be it Stauffer or Jason Gregor or Jim Matheson -- is lost in a blizzard of Tweets and notebook items and guesswork on the radio.

That's meant as more of an observation than it is a condemnation of the way the media biz is going as websites and newspapers and broadcast outlets scrap for traffic. Attribution? That's old school. Listeners and readers don't care all that much who got it first as long as they get it now. So we put it out there.

Like I said off the top. my guess is we'll know soon enough if Stauffer everybody had Krueger as the new head nailed all along.

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

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Nation Radio - June 23, 2012 Entry Draft Edition

June 24 2012 09:24AM



The 2012 Entry Draft was a wild one, with an unexpected run on defenders in the top-10, the Jordan Staal and Luke Schenn trades as well as Calgary making the biggest risk/reward pick in the first round. The Nation had no less than five people on the ground in Pittsburgh watching the action and rubbing elbows with scouts and GM's alike. Yesterday, all of them talked to Allan about their takes and experiences.

This is Nation Radio.

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