How Much Offense Did Yakupov’s Knee Injury Cost Him?

When we hear about Nail Yakupov’s injury, normally we’re talking about the concussion that put him out of Sarnia’s lineup in March. The 2012 Draft’s top prospect also suffered a knee injury at the World Juniors, and that injury may have given us a warped picture of his true level of offensive ability.

In 26 games prior to suffering that knee injury, Yakupov scored 21 times and added 32 assists, for a total of 53 points – a hair over two points per game. After his return from injury, Yakupov played 17 more regular season games, picking up a total of 16 points.

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How much of a difference does that make? The following chart shows every OHL player drafted with a top-three selection during the 2000’s, and the difference is spectacular:

Obviously, pure point totals don’t tell the whole story – as Patrick Kane and the freakishly gifted 2006-07 London Knights prove – but Yakupov’s position on this list is suggestive.

Even including the totals from the post knee-injury period, Yakupov had a highly comparable season to that of Tyler Seguin two years earlier, at least statistically – he’s within a whisper off Seguin’s production both goal-wise and point-wise. He’s also in the middle of a pretty talented cluster of players, from Jason Spezza on down to Rick Nash.

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What makes things really interesting is Yakupov’s pre-injury scoring levels. If they aren’t a trick of sample size – a 26-game stretch is less than a third of an NHL season, after all – then those production levels are truly impressive, among the best we’ve seen from any draft-eligible OHL player. While Yakupov doesn’t stand out as the same sort of pure goal-scorer as a Steven Stamkos, there can’t be any complaints about his overall offense (bizarre side point – in two years playing for Sarnia, Stamkos averaged 1.5887 points/game; Yakupov has averaged 1.5888).

And while most fans would be far more open to dealing the first overall draft pick than the three young stars already on the Oilers roster, it’s probably worth noting that Yakupov’s pre-injury scoring numbers were more impressive than the totals posted by Taylor Hall or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. That doesn’t automatically mean that Yakupov will outscore Hall in the NHL, but it should reinforce the fact that his skill level puts him in the same range as Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Prior to running the numbers I had known that Yakupov’s second half of the season was slower than his first half, but I hadn’t realized how dramatic a drop-off there was after his knee injury. For me, the realization that Yakupov might even be significantly better than his numbers on the season would make it both an easier decision to draft him first overall and a harder decision to trade the pick away.

This week by Jonathan Willis

  • RexLibris

    Everyone keeps saying the Oilers need to draft a defenceman. But the Oilers already have about 7-8 good prospects withing the system. They’ve built a good foundation for a d factory. Drafting another defenceman won’t help the team today at all. I agree with Craig Button who said they should draft Yakupov and then look to deal assets or sign for a top 4 defenceman. Trading for a defenceman isn’t easy but aside from spare part deals no trade is easy. This offseason is a good time to make a push as well because with the trend of revenue sharing being equal among the NBA and NFL the NHL is probably going to move in that direction. Which means that next year’s cap limit will around 65-66 Mil. A lot of teams are going to have to swing a deal to move under the cap as many teams will be up against it once all clubs reach the 23 man roster.

  • Truth

    Damien Cox tweeted that Leafs wouldn’t move Schenn or Gardiner for 1st overall, nevermind including their pick.

    Question being; is Damien Cox high or is Burke?

  • RexLibris

    Jonathon, the writing is on the wall. I don’t know who is being drafted 1st, or what Tamby is going to do with our pick, but I think it’s fair to say. that after all this time, we didn’t “fail for Nail”. A little disappointing, but the sky won’t fall. It’s going to be very interesting in the near future with a couple new announcements for the Oil. Who is going to be named the new head coach, and who will the Oilers be proud to select with their pick?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hockey for dummies guide to 2012….

    Here’s 12 various ranking lists:

    A) Craig Button
    B) Bob Mackenzie (aggregate of ~10 NHL scouts)
    C) ISS
    D) MyNHLDraft
    E) Future Considerations
    F) NHL Central Scouting
    G) Redline Report
    H) Hockey Prospectus
    I) The Scouting Report
    J) The Hockey Writers
    K) The Hockey News
    L) McKeen’s Hockey

    A 1
    B 1
    C 1
    D 1
    E 1
    F 1 NA skater
    G 1
    H 1
    I 1
    J 1
    K 1
    L 1
    ……Average: 1.0

    A 7
    B 4
    C 2
    D 5
    E 5
    F 1 Euro Skater
    G 2
    H 4
    I 2
    J 5
    K 2
    L 3
    …..Ave: 3.5

    A 13
    B 3
    C 3
    D 2
    E 3
    F 2 NA Skater
    G 4
    H 8
    I 4
    J 3
    K 4
    L 4
    ….Ave: 4.42

    A 4
    B 6
    C 14
    D 3
    E 2
    F 4 NA Skater
    G 6
    H 3
    I 3
    J 6
    K 7
    L 2
    ….Ave: 5.0

    A 20
    B 2
    C 4
    D 4
    E 4
    F 3 NA Skater
    G 8
    H 2
    I 5
    J 4
    K 3
    L 9
    ….Ave: 5.67

    A 2
    B 5
    C 6
    D 6
    E 10
    F 11 NA Skater
    G 3
    H 6
    I 7
    J 2
    K 5
    L 6
    …..Ave: 5.75

    A 3
    B 9
    C 7
    D 9
    E 9
    F 5 NA Skater
    G 7
    H 7
    I 6
    J 8
    K 6
    L 8
    ….Ave: 7.0

    A 5
    B 10
    C 8
    D 8
    E 8
    F 2 Euro Skater
    G 5
    H 5
    I 11
    J 7
    K 12
    L 5
    ….Ave: 7.17

    A 6
    B 8
    C 10
    D 7
    E 7
    F 10 NA Skater
    G 9
    H 15
    I 10
    J 9
    K 8
    L 7
    ….Ave: 8.83

    A 12
    B 7
    C 5
    D 10
    E 6
    F 9 NA Skater
    G 11
    H 12
    I 9
    J 13
    K 9
    L 10
    ….Ave: 9.42

    That’s quite the gap between Yakupov and Forsberg, let alone Yakupov and Murray.

  • G Money

    “It just seems to me you’re awfully whiny with pretty minimal cause.”

    Heh heh, I think you just described 95% of all internet board posters everywhere, not to mention an entire generation of Quebec students!

  • Robert Ore

    CBA and entry draft – do you think with the impending lockout/strike that there will be any impact of who the Oilers draft. It is very likely all draft picks will be returned to their Junior clubs next year. It seems likely that the NHL will likely not start until sometime after the Junior leagues are well under way and it will do no good for development of having these 18 year old kids not to be playing.

    Another random thought, what do you think of having Peckham playing as a forward next year. It would add some size and grit up front.

  • With all this Yakupov talk about falling I can’t help but think and Maybe I’m alone on this but, Does anyone else see Murray falling past 5?

    Everyone talk’s about the Oilers “needs” but what about CBJ? Do they need a defensmen? I would argue probably not, there “needs” are Completly opposite.

    MTL? NYI?

    TOR- Do they take a defensmen here? Or are their needs different and decide once all the forwards are gone they trade for a forward?

    If TOR does take a defensmen here I have a difficult time thinking they take Murray given Burkes penchant for truculence.

    Just thinking aloud?

    Good read JW

  • I’d be shocked – really shocked – if Yakupov fell to 3rd overall, let alone 5th.

    Beyond that, though, the second tier of prospects could work out any which way:

    Forsberg – big power forward with offense and skating questions.

    Murray – solid defender with character who is very mature but lacks high-end offense, real mean streak.

    Galchenyuk – elite talent, has played only 8 games this season.

    Grigorenko – elite talent, perceived as lazy.

    Dumba – riverboat gambler with an edge, but lacks ideal size and durability is a question mark.

    Rielly – great offensive defenseman, major injury concenr.

    Teravainen – highly talented, but diminutive and not a physical presence; on the rise.

    Reinhart – huge defender with excellent tools, again big question is offensive upside, and doesn’t have a nasty disposition.

    Trouba – a shark of a defenseman who skates well and destroys opponents, but has questionable puck skills and offensive sense.

    I think those nine guys are the best bets to round out the draft’s top-10, but nobody knows what order they’re going to go in. Yakupov’s the consensus, nearly unanimous number 1 pick, but it’s a free for all after he goes off the board.

  • Bucknuck

    I see Toronto taking Galchenyuk. Burke loves centres, and especially ones who are strong, and Galchenyuk is a fitness demon.

    Other than that I really have no idea except that Columbus won’t take Grigorenko.

  • Bucknuck

    The Oilers are picking Yakupov. The interweb chatter is all because ST said he was open to moving the pick and the fact that he isn’t a media-whore like Burke. The two Sarnia teammates also make for greater speculation, given Burke’s Sedin draft.

    The only way the Oilers move this pick is if Gardiner and the 5th plus are offered. ST is intelligent enough (at least those in his inner circel are) to know that an overpay is the only thing that will pay off, rather than giving up the pick. Yakupov is a star in waiting, small sample size or not. He has been the consensus #1 for 2 years in a row. This hasn’t been the case the past 2 drafts.

    Also, I was convinced based on the Oilers perceived need in 2010 that Seguin was the target. I figured the injury potential and the need for a center tipped the scales in his favour. I personnally hoped for Hall.

    Last year, given the need for D, it seemed like Larsson or possibly Coutourier (sic) would be the pick based on perceived need. However RNH seemed to be the clear cut favourite.

    Given the last two drafts I have no doubt, barring a major offer, that Yakupov will be an Oiler.

  • RPG

    By the way, as always Jonathan and LT and Gregor and Brownlee and Struds, etc. LOVE this site, and thank you for providing food for thought especially during the offseason.

    You do very good work for the Oilers fan and I don’t think you get recognized enough for it.

    Thank you and keep up the awesome work!

  • Some scouts argue that healthy Galchenyuk and maybe even Grigs would have been neck aand neck this year. If the oilers brass feel that way, and these are both bigger men, and in a position of need and greater influence you never know.

    I say if they keep the #1 there is a 75% chance you here Yak and then there is a split between murray and the 2 big centres.

    If they think those other players are that close and could help the team more in acouple of years, who could be opposed to them trading down and getting additional needed assets and the player they want out of the draft?

    I can see being passionate about a player (Yak) but when your full time livelihood is based on finding the best players and the best deals to improve the hockey club, how do you not at least listen to offers.

    Hell I would be calling every club in the top 10 and asking for the stars and the moon. If I didn’t get told to go to hell I didn’t ask a high enough price. Look what we got for Ricky Ray….lol

    Some GM may go for it, or more likely they will counter. You never know what another club might be willing to let go unless you ask.

    If the oilers really feal that Yak is the BPA then they should either draft him or as they have indicated wait for a huge overpay that makes this club stronger for the present and the future.

    Before everyone flips on me I am not against drafting Yak. I just think unless we know what offers are coming it is hard to say it is a no brainer.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Is 3.5 the range the Oilers would be willing to pay for a decent top 4 blueliner? May even get that on a multi year deal.

    Sheldon Souray’s on the market, he just turned down 3 to resign in Dallas. Go get’em Tambo!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Can’t imagine the Oilers putting all this No.1 baggage on Murrays shoulders when he’s far from the best player in this draft. Edmonton would be setting Ryan Murray up to fail from day 1. Oiler fans want/expect Nail Yakupov, not a career 3-4 defenseman in Ryan Murray.

    If Edmonton is going to tell everyone they’re smarter than everyone else next friday, only
    a work stoppage would help soften the first overall disappointment in this 2012 draft if they select anyone other than Yakupov.

  • RexLibris

    @Jonathan Willis

    True. I was wondering regarding his draft ranking and his NHL-readiness, if this would make him more, or less, marketable.

    I agree that the Carolina pick sounds like it is up for the highest bidder. I have to wonder if Tambellini would have the stomach to try and acquire it.

    I’ve heard Hemsky’s name come up here, but that seems steep. That being said, Rutherford knows well what Hemsky is capable of and a player’s value is often in the eye of the beholder.

    Thanks for the feedback though.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I read the other day that CBJ was willing to trade the #2 pick, it might be a lateral move but I wonder if ST offered PRV(hate to see him go) Peckham and the #32 pick if Howson would bite.

    • DSF

      So, let’s see.

      An AHL player who likely couldn’t get you a first round pick, an AHL calibre defenseman and a second round pick for second overall.

      I’m sure that’s the best offer Howson would get for the #2 overall pick in the draft.


  • a lg dubl dubl

    I say lateral move in my prior post because I still think if PRV can find how to drive to the net every game he really could be the 2nd line wing the team needs.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Get this trade

    TB gets-Lindback,Wilson and 7th round pick

    Nashville gets- Caron, 2 2nd round picks this year and a 2013 3rd round pick

    Another solid backup for DD gone, steep price to pay or not.

    EDIT: as per TSN

  • a lg dubl dubl


    The only reason why PRV was in the AHL most of the yr was because for whatever reason Renney chose Petrell over PRV, I still think given the chance that Petrell had(who wasnt ready for the NHL either) PRV would have done a hell of alot better and his game would have come around. I mean really when PRV was up here he played what 5min a game, and stuck on the 4th line.

    PRV is better than “an AHL” player and will be given the right opportunity.

    what are you a Flammers fan?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    The more I read and hear about the draft the more I feel the need for anger management counseling. I strongly feel that the decision on whom to pick first overall will be a seminal one for the Oilers and that what passes for a team brain trust is flirting with making a disastrous, franchise-busting move to select Murray over Yakupov.

    As an ex-journalist it is difficult to believe that some management sources are not behind the recent avalanche of anti-Yak, pro-Murray stories especially those from the spectacularly connected Jim Matheson. Message to Oilers management. If you are trying to soften your passionate fan base up for this act of idiocy, think again. I have still not forgiven you for out-thinking yourself and selecting dud Steve Kelly over franchise rock homeboy Shane Doan.

    I have zero faith in Captain Dithers, whom I fear will spurn a future superstar who will haunt us forever for an offensively challenged middle-pairing defender as a quick fix for a leaky defence to cover his immense derriere.

    No, I will not give up my season tickets, start rooting for the Flames or move to Timbuktu. But I will be supremely pissed off.

  • I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait for Jonathan’s Eberle ATB commercial performance analysis! Of particular interest to me will be the “tooth gap flashes/60” and “Avrg e’s/squeee”. IT CAN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT, CAN IT???

    Dear god please make them pick Yak.

  • book¡e


    I know your reading this Mr. Tambellini, if that is your real name Steve-O. All of us will become Calgary Flames fans… After all they have an Alberta flag on their jersey and have represented Alberta for the last 6 years. I’m sure everyone here agrees with me!!

  • JW: “I’d be shocked – really shocked – if Yakupov fell to 3rd overall, let alone 5th.”

    Would you be shocked – really shocked – if Murray fell to 3rd or fifth? No. Just, no.

    What is the debate here? I am a fan of the Oil, and care about the team, which is why I’m here, but this really shouldn’t be a debate. I understand we all need something to read about to stay entertained, but this is almost frustrating, as opposed to entertaining. And yes, this debate is over-written about and overly talked about in the media. I suppose we can all blame Tambellini for his post-draft lottery press conference, and all that was said about being open to a trade. Still, he said such things in recent drafts and must in order to tick all the boxes on his checklist, simply hoping for a hail Mary deal by some desperate GM, but really, that doesn’t happen in this NHL.

  • Hey Guys

    I’m from Montreal and following this upcomming draft very closely. I thought you would like to hear from someone outside of Edmonton on what’s going on.

    First, in case you wonder, Montreal is aiming at Forsberg or Galchenyuk. Anything could happen, but that’s what we hear around here.

    As a Canadians fan, I hope you guys get Yakupov. But as a hockey fan I hope Tambelini won’t do that mistake.

    He’s small, and already got a concussion. He’s the type of russian that will go offense and forget about defense, just like Kovalchuk in the early years. Also if things don’t go as expected for him, he may be lured into going to the KHL with a 4 or 5 million deal like Radulov did. And playing in N-A wont change anything. Radulov played with quebec reparts for 2 years, that did not stop him from leaving the NHL.

    He might fit in a different team, but on the first 2 lines, you guys got way too many 1 way offensive-small and light players. I know what I’m talking about, Montreal had this kind of team and it’s not the way to success. We are on the process of changing things and this draft may be the one where we get what we are missing. Big offensive forwards.

    Now my idea about this is that Edmonton should get Ryan Murray. I know, he’s not the most popular… But do not forget that he did not play for a good team and his stats are prety good. He also finish second at the NHL combine at the V2O max thing. He may be able to play big minutes in a near future, just like Ryan McDounagh did for the Rangers.

    Think about this, offense plays starts with D. This guy has probably the best skating fluidity in the top 10. He played with men at the World Championship and very few did that at his age. He may boost the stats of the forwards while repairing mistakes that offensive youngsters do.

    Also don’t forget this, most sucessful teams started building the team backwards, starting with a goalie, then Ds, then forwards. Oilers are not doing that and you guys got the 1st draft pick for 3 years now?

    Some may argue that there is some talented Ds drafted recently. Musil and Klefblom could play in the NHL one day. But they are not NHL ready as Murray is, and they don’t have the potential to be dominant and control the game pace like Murray.

    Just so you guys know, even if Montreal do NOT need a defender right now, we may get him 3rd if he’ still there… you better grab him first.

    Yak will create more turnovers that he will create offensive chances in his early years. He never faced real good defensive forwards and Ds. IMO he’s not NHL ready, lots and lots of potential, but Zerdev was too, and many many more that never become the player they could be.

    If Murray is not Oilers 1st choice, I would go with Galchenyuk or Forsberg. Because Oilers need to get bigger up front too. You also need more players that could be dominant on both sides of the rink, and those two will bring you that.

    Good luck!