I’m hearing whispers that some Oiler fans believe the club made a mistake in drafting Nail Yakupov #1 overall. In times like these, it’s important to remind ourselves of what the "experts" said at the time of the draft and about small sample sizes and how silly we can look in drawing short term conclusions.

I’m sure everyone has their own way of evaluating a new talent, but for Oiler fans the third #1 pick in a row should be easy to compare to……THE LAST TWO #1 OVERALL PICKS!

So, let’s do that:

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins year 1: 22, 10-14-24 (1.09ppg) +3
  • Nail Yakupov year 1: 22, 6-6-12 (.545ppg) -10
  • Taylor Hall year 1: 22, 5-6-11 (.500ppg) -6

In his first 22 games, RNH scored 24 points and 10 goals. Since then, he’s scored 9 goals in 59 games, and that gives us a really nice reminder that (say it with me….) we shouldn’t judge players–especially young players–on small sample sizes. 

In regard to Nail Yakupov, here’s what we can conclude from his first 22 NHL games: he’s tremendously gifted, has an exceptional release, and is miles from being the player he’ll become. I’m excited about watching him, and am thrilled he’s doing so well, but it’s clear the young man has some development in front of him and perhaps some growing up to do. 

No shame in that; show me a 19-year old who is mature and never makes an error of entusiasm and I’ll show you one sad, sad teenager. 


Yakupov scored one of the truly famous goals of the entire season against Los Angeles early on. Nail–who was born in Russia–celebrated a huge goal for the Oilers with the kind of youthful joy that makes us all kids just by watching it. If there’s anyone in the adult world who thought Yakupov made that sprint on purpose–or to show up the LAK–they’re crazy. Seriously. 


Yakupov is 6th in points among rookies, tied for third in goals and ranks 10th in F time-on-ice per game. This is a marathon, not a sprint and Yakupov’s season–although halfway over–promises to put him in prime offensive positions for the Oilers simply because they don’t have a lot of other options who are better. 

Nail Yakupov is a skilled player. Among Oiler forwards, he’s already among the 6 best available (he ranks 5th in points among Oiler forwards). 


Nail Yakupov is an outstanding talent. Five years from now, maybe we’ll be able to say that someone taken later in the draft turned out better, but it was a strong bet on draft day and it is a strong bet now. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, and don’t listen to anyone who talks about "soft Euro’s" or "acting like an idiot" in regard to Yakupov. 

He’s a killer. When the tumblers click, this guy is going to kick ass from Boston to Vancouver. And his shot is going to be heard all the way to Kingston. 


  • Mumbai Max

    Nothing makes me belly laugh like NewAgeSys. The most entertaining posts on the interwebby thing, by far! Keep it coming. Amidst the falling sky, the hubris and the desperate use of all things statistical, NAS gives us all something to wonder at. A very great gift.

    …..wanders away, chuckling

  • Theres no way oilers should trade Yakupov..he is everything this teams wanted in,terms of offence for over 15 yrs…His level of compete is awesome as well…
    Keep all the kids and surround them with tenacious, hard hitting gritty powerforwards like LA and Boston have…
    It starts by trading for Brian Boyle as a fourth line center between Brown and Eager…
    I love Belanger on Faceoffs and PK but we need a third line center that can also hit and offer a little Nastyness…a Brandon Dubinsky type..
    I would keep Paajarvi for now…but somewhere theres gotta be a big, David Lewis or Kyle Clifford/Ryane Clowe type third line winger…
    Which leaves us to the top 6…Keep Gagner as he as competitive as anyone on our top six come…Love Hemskys skill but I believe he along with a pick and or prospect can be traded for someone that can crash and bang 16 minutes a night..Go find him Tambo!

    On D..need one more offensive Defenceman and one solid Jason Smith type shut down guy..
    Nick Schultz is ok at everything except offence..Whitney is likely gone..those two along with draft picks, prospects, and or other current oilers(not including kids of course) need to get turned into more speed, size and grit on the back end..

    Surround the kids already, no more bottom five finishes please!

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    Eberle is the least motivated? Eberle should have his ice time reduced? Trade Yak? That’s crazy talk.
    I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1974. You guys need to take a deep breath and relax. Clearly you can’t judge talent.

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    Why does everyone have to even acknowledge that DSF exists? He says such stupid crap its obvious he is baiting you….That dumb crap about Yaks plus/minus is so idiotic a grade 5 student could explain how warped the math is on that. SHEESH!

  • CaptainLander


    Yes, all the Oilers suck and always will. Every player everywhere is better then every Oiler. They cannot improve and a rookie is a bust if his plus/minus after his first 22 games is bad. We understand you arguments they rarely change, and no one cares. Can you be done now?

  • Milli

    I can’t believe Ebs is the new whipping boy and we are talking about the mistake of Yak! MADNESS! Absolute MADNESS. But hey, I guess the Trade Gags talk has died down a bit!!!

  • Jprime

    Oh, people are still trying to use +/- as a legitimate stat to determine the potential growth of a player?

    As well as trying to go down the path of an ‘on pace for’ analytical standpoint with +/-?

    Malkin had 77pts and still finished in the minuses on a very good 2009 Penguins team.

    Juniors? He did fairly well in the KHL, which by all means, is a pro league. The same league everyone used to claim that Cervenka and Tarasenko were more than ‘ready’ for the NHL. Juniors? We talking about juniors?

    Also, Eberle misses one little GWG and Oiler fans get all get mad and want to turn the team upside down? He’s struggling, it HAPPENS – so what.

  • Jprime

    This is just silly.

    ANY team in the NHL would more than welcome Eberle and/or Nail.

    All you Oiler fans, sit back. Enjoy what these young fellows bring to team and know that they’re only going to get better.

  • Jprime

    Nail is stuck on a line that can’t help him.
    It’s an offensive player on a grinder line.
    He has looked VERY dangerous in the top two.
    Yet somehow he dosent remain there.
    Kruger refuses to match a line even when one is dominating.
    The line change are waaaay to fast.
    Can’t build real momentum changing that fast.
    Yak needs to stay on line 1 or 2 and it will happen.
    And by the way, when he was on line 2, it was just
    Gags and Hemmer passing to each other. Yak was open more
    Often than not to gain the offensive zone. And what did I see game in and out???
    Gags and Hemmer….carry the puck in if pass only between the
    Two of em…..turnover!
    I have watched every single game this year and I’m pissed right of with
    The lack of matchups, brutally short shifts and serious
    Lack of team play.