The NHL lockout and the KHL’s availability online have allowed Oiler fans to follow Nail Yakupov closely this season. For his part, Yakupov has done everything in his power, has been unrelenting, has been fighting tooth and nail, to prove to everyone he is as advertised. The early results are very strong.


Last month, we discussed the last lockout, and the Russian Super League’s 18-year olds who played in 2004-05. The list is short but impressive, and young Nail Yakupov looks like he belongs:

  1. Nail Yakupov (18) 13, 10-4-14 1.08
  2. Alexander Ovechkin (18) 37, 13-14-27 .730
  3. Evgeni Malkin (18) 52, 12-20-32 .615
  4. Viktor Alexandrov (18) 50, 8-10-18 .360
  5. Enver Lisin (18) 53, 8-4-12 .226

Before we talk about what this means, lets talk about what it doesn’t mean. I am in no way suggesting our man Nail is superior to Ovechkin and Malkin; this is a comparison across many seasons and we don’t have the TOI for the 04-05 kids (Yak is playing 15:27 a night–he’s not getting a time-on-ice push here).

It does tell us that this young man is special. You can’t score 10 goals in your first baker’s dozen against a strong league unless you’re touched by God. He has 3 PP goals, 7 at evens–so he’s not padding his stats. Yakupov has 57 shots in those 13 games, suggesting that he might have 200 SOG in a full KHL season. That’s a very good number.


Yakupov is a teenager, and his -3 tells us there are things to work on (there are 6 forwards on his team with worse plus minus numbers, 12 with a better total). That’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be overly concerned at this point–Yakupov should be facing the soft parade when he arrives in the NHL.



This week, as a matter of fact. Yakupov will be taking part in the Canada-Russia Subway Series starting Monday against a team of QMJHL All-Stars. The series ends in the west, with games in Vancouver November 14 and Victoria November 15. All games are on Sportsnet and are available Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of the next two weeks. 


Nail Yakupov, like Taylor Hall and  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins before him, is a special talent. Everything we’ve seen since the draft suggests this to be true. I don’t know when these kids will get together as Oilers, but when they do it is going to be something else.


  • Mumbai Max

    It is pretty exciting.

    What i find even more exciting is what Shultz does to this mighty threesome. Some kind of multiplier effect. The comparison to Gretzy, Kurri and Messier being fed by Coffey is almost too juicy and obvious to avoid. I know, I know, we are not allowed to make those comparisons with the lights on, but holy headman passes Batman, what planet is that guy from?

    Strangely enough, I am getting some kind of masochistic pleasure waiting for them to come together like some cosmic jigsaw puzzle. I am hoping for a bit more lockout time to savor the inevitable and let them get a tiny bit more seasoned before they wreak havoc on the population.

    Stinking the joint out for 3 years has been well worth the payoff!

  • Lummeropenet

    The future is looking very interesting at this point. I still think if there is a season the Oil will get a top ten pick in spring in what is starting to look like a decent draft. I don’t think we’ll get a shot at S. Jones but a good player will come our way none the less. If Stu does well with the two second rounders we’ll be OK with assets going forward.

    For me this is already making up for the 90’s and early 2000’s. I’ve always believed the rebuild was the best way to go instead of trading picks for ???? Like Toronto has. There was some very vocal bloggers out there who were against this rebuild and they had a better plan. Fans who have been watching this game for a while will know there are no guarantees in any plan. But this team is a hell of a lot more fun to watch than the team in the big smoke.

    I can’t blame some fans for being impatient though. Myself, I’ve seen the Oil enter the NHL with the greatest player the game has seen. Then win 5 Stanley cups before the dark years came. There is some real fun times ahead now so enjoy them. Lock out be dammed.

  • 24% body fat

    he is a flop, second line winger.

    The other thing is how does ovechkin peak at 22 than tail off. He is good but how can anyone say he is even top 10 in the nhl right now, or khl for that reason.

    • Dipstick

      I explain…
      Ovechkin does the same thing all the time, he uses his speed to beat defenders on the outside, gets a clear look at the goalie, and wires it past him with a world class shot..
      It worked the first few seasons, but the defencemen in the NHL aren’t dumb, they’ve learned to back up instead of challenge him, and they’ve become alot more mobile since 2005..

      Hall actually reminds me more of Ovechkin than does Yakupov, except I see more of a playmaker in Hall than I do in Ovechkin..and I think in the long run will be the better all around player..although Hall will likely never score more than 35 goals in a season..

      Yakupov is like 25%-Jordan Eberle, 15%-Sergei Samsanov, 18%-Ovechkin, 30%-Pavel Bure, and 12%-something entirely different..

      The kid will score many many goals for the Oilers.

    • 24% body fat

      thanks, i totally agree and have thought this for years. his inability to adapt is why crosby has clearly surpassed him.

      With yak i dont get the bure comparison. Yak seems to be a shoot first player, bure was more of a flashy speedy type. Yak just walks in and rips it. Im thinking he is a much better version of semin, but with desire and drive.

      edit; lol meant to reply to a different comment not my own.

  • Czar

    Murray who? Best player available is always the way to go.The Bure comparison is looking more and more accurate and I can’t wait to see the kid piss off my Canuck buddies!

  • 24% body fat

    I know people will hate me for saying this, but you have to play Yakupov with Horcoff and Paajarvi for the first year or two.

    Both Yakupov and Paajarvi would benefit from playing with Horcoff for awhile.

    • RexLibris

      For the love of God……..please, please I for one do not want to see Horcoff bungle any more offensive plays!

      He will kill the joy and careers of these two up and coming players. If there is a hockey god, please make Horcoff go away!

  • Lowetide

    godot10: I think he’d do well to play with Horcoff and Paajarvi, but doubt it happens. There’s just too much offense to pass on the opportunity to put him with a “hands” duo.

    • 24% body fat

      hall and mps, strong fast powerful left wings, mps not in the same class as hall obviously

      rnh and gagner, cerebral play making sick passing centers

      eberle and yak, a little difference here but sniping RW seem to be a fit,

      could make two great nhl lines with possibly the best top 6 in the league despite mps development or what gagner haters say

    • Dipstick

      They have an “international break” of sorts. There are some international tournaments scheduled for that time. It allows players to represent their country and not miss league play.

    • I was wondering the same thing. At least yak wont miss anything while he is over here.

      Yak has played well in the east-west, larger ice of the KHL. I’m looking forward to this series of ‘north American’ hockey for the young man. Hopefully he is lights out.

      And further hoping that these CBA talks go somewhere and he never goes back to the K.

  • Yakupov was compared to Bure by Everyone including Mr. Bowman. I think the comparison is more what both players are able to do on the ice at high speed.

    I personally like the comparison to Kharlamov.

    Another player who is quick and is a “shoot” first type player is Stamkos, We all know Yakupov broke his JR records and I have no problem with a shoot first ask questions later player.

    Yakupov also is a very underrated play maker, his 9 assists at the WJC last year indicate he is no slouch when it comes to making plays, simple fact is he was able to create space for other players while seeing the best defensive players and still found the open players, very positive.

    Another point is Yakupov is not playing with very good players and not exactly on a strong team.

    I think he will score more goals then Hall.

  • Lowetide

    Stu MacGregor after the draft: “One of the things that really impressed– whenever he got in all alone on a goaltender, he didn’t miss, he put it in.”

  • RexLibris

    I noticed Eberle got three points last night, 2G 1A +2. Even better, if I’m reading this right, is he shot 100% on the evening (2 shots, 2 goals). His shooting percentage, from what I can gather, is 28% right now. I wonder if that is sustainable.

    Stoned in the shootout though (Eberle, Schultz, Nugent-Hopkins, Paajarvi).

    The Heat are at the top of the AHL as well. Horak leading with 10 goals, 1 assist.

    Bigos has managed 16 penalty minutes in just 3 games, not bad. And Simpson is even with two assists after 6 games.

    Interesting times here, with some many bodies spread so far apart.

    • book¡e

      I don’t know, I get the sense that they did so to remove the bitter cloud of dread hanging over the team. As I see it, the team and coaching staff had all pretty much given up under Tillman’s leadership. I think it was a fine move and I say this as someone who supported his signing.

      • RexLibris

        I’m neither for or against the move: Tillman made some decisions I thought were excellent and others that made me question his legal competence.

        But doing it right before a playoff game? Why on earth? The organization ought to be focused on preparation for the coming opponent, not having to answer media questions about management.

        By all means, make the decision today and even inform Tillman that following the Grey Cup his contract will be terminated, and until then mum’s the word. It isn’t as though one month was going to eat terribly into the amount of time given to find a replacement.

        I was in favour of his hiring as well, and I still appreciate his balancing out the payroll (though not necessarily at the cost of Ray) and restocking the Canadian talent. Like I said, fire him if need be, but today was a really bad day to do it, from what I know of the CFL calendar.

  • RexLibris

    We are learning that Nail Yakupov is a very hard worker and a consistant performer,these seem to be his trademarks,and they are great ones to have.His shot numbers are right on track,he is converting his possesions into shots at a consistant and acceptable ratio.This is Nails baseline if he is given the opportunity to execute.It is excellent.
    Yakupov is not afraid of working hard for 60mins,he is a 60min-man,his intensity of execution and focus doesnt change for a full 60 mins,no humps no cycles,just consistant hard work ,effort and consequently production.Excellent start on your path to the Oilers roster young man,be patient and stay focused!!