When it comes to the Edmonton Oilers, it seems everyone is looking "long term." Ralph Krueger is taking the longer view in regard to Nail Yakupov’s development, and Ladislav Smid is willing to stay with the Oilers–wants to–but also wants the security of a long term deal. Does Ralph have it right? Is Laddy worth a long term deal?

Ralph Krueger is taking things slow with Nail Yakupov. Is it a good idea? Yakupov is a tremendously talented young player, but he’s been sitting during most games with the score close in the third period.

Despite being a #1 overall selection, Yakupov is a long way from being the most used rookie in the NHL:


There are a lot of players getting more TOI per game than Yakupov, and I’d guess most of it comes in the third period. Why would Ralph do this? Well, one logical conclusion would be that young Nail is not familiar enough with many of the disciplines of the NHL game to execute them consistently. Thus coach Krueger goes with Lennart Petrell (or, unfortunately last night, Mike Brown) or Ryan Smyth when he tightens the bench. I have no quarrel with it, a lot of what  Yakupov is experiencing now might have to do with previous coaching styles and tactics. Not every #1 overall selection arrives in the NHL as capable as Taylor Hall, and Yakupov’s potential can only be helped by bringing him along at a pace that matches his development.

Backing off the Yak in terms of playing time may also protect him from injury, something the Oilers were unable to do with Hall and the Nuge.

I’m fine with sitting Yakupov in the third period, but would prefer the Oilers had a very capable veteran–someone who won’t take a penalty–in the role to replace him. I don’t expect this will be an issue next season.


We talked about the importance of signing Ladislav Smid not long ago, and it’s good news to know the Oilers have started negotiations with the young veteran. Smid would be one of the very valuable free agents this summer if it gets that far, and Edmonton is extremely vulnerable at the position. Quoting Edmonton Sun’s Robert Tychkowski in an article from yesterday:

  • “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an unrestricted free agent,” he said, adding he’s looking for a four- or five-year deal. “I’ve worked hard for it. I would like to be here, when you see the talent and the future of this team, it’s very bright. I’d like to be here but it’s a business. A business for them and a business for me, as well. I would prefer to stay here. We’ll see what’s going to happen."

My guess is he gets signed, but there might be some sticker shock among the fanbase. Smid’s holding some nice cards.


The time for rebuilding is done, and the time for team building is here. The actions of Ralph Krueger on the ice–being perhaps overly patient with Yakupov–and the actions of the management trio off the ice in regard to Smid, will be a major story of the spring and summer and the team build.

We wait.

Lowetide at High Noon is on Team 1260 today (noon to 2pm Edmonton time) featuring:

  • Rob Vollman from ESPN and Hockey Prospectus. We’ll talk about his brilliant player usage charts and specifically look at the Oilers. Their big blue bubbles (good) are in the "two way sector" and are youngsters, and their big red bubbles (bad) are in the less sheltered sector and are older, more mature players.

  • Scott Taylor from Winnipeg. Scott is a legendary writer and personality and always good for insight and a hearty laugh. We’ll discuss our national obsession: knocking the Leafs out of the playoffs. Also, some Jets talk (they are a strange team) and I’ll ask some deadline questions.
  • Michael Parkatti from Boys On the Bus is doing outstanding work and we’ll talk about some of the innovative ideas and findings he is bringing to the Oilogosphere.
  • David Staples from Cult of Hockey. We’ll talk about the Oilers and their playoff chances, look at the trade deadline and I’ll ask about Ryan Whitney’s recent improvement.
  • Jason Strudwick from Team 1260 will give us insight into the Oilers and this stretch run. I’ll ask about Horcoff’s future, Krueger’s 3rd period decisions and what the Oilers have to do in order to close the deal on games like last night.
  • Kent Simpson from the Team 1260 Oil Kings pbp team. The OK won their 50th game last night, that’s two seasons in a row. I’ll ask Kent about the differences between the two teams and we’ll talk Lazar, Moroz, Gernat and others.

Hope you can join me, should be fun.

  • DaveChamp

    Nice article, thanks for the insights.

    I have an issue with the fact that we arent helping Yakupov legitimately try to win the Calder and we arent helping J Schultz legitimately try to win the Calder, I cant accept that we are so weak as a team that we cant devise a few set plays for these two and give them all the cherry ice time we can find, and its to late now to start this season long consistant support of our guys they deserve.

    Yakupov has had a rough introduction and I am not hapy about it dammit, first we shut the kids celebrations down by not aggressively defending them and get in his head then we definitively stop him from being able to compete for the Calder by refusing to allow him the minutes and force him to watch his peers who he eclipses in every way kick his ass.

    This is BS, what kind of a team is so shallow as to be negligent enough to not celebrate its players and support them in every way when they compete with thweir peers, this is a dog eat dog internal mentality Edmonton has developed and evolved and it is far far from being optimal for Rookies or pretty much any player to feel safe and supported, we make it impossible to fell loyalty and committment because of the way the “business” BS has been jammed down our throats for decades , as if other teams dont also have a business side to their franchises.

    Yakupov has played more than well enough to deserve more minutes every night, we have some obligation to give him the support he needs, and Ralph had to be forced to put him with Gagner and MPS as it is and even at that the stubborn coach kicked them to the 3rd line, which as Ralph Krueger very well knows destroys the dynamic offense they were creating earlier in the year, I am calling them as I see em till the end of the year.

    Ralph has made a disaster out of our line combos this year and its that simple it is the absolute weakest part of his overall skillset by a longshot, and he has an entire book of well rounded excuses to back himself up with when he is questioned about the topic.

    Results based my arse, this team has no results based policy whatsoever. If it did Yakupov would have been playing consistantly more minutes than he has been. Ralphs reasoning is baseless, a player like Nail can score a goal to balance a mistake he might make to allow one, but 97& of our roster cannot do this, he is a special talent and has been treated like crap by the coaching staff and I dont want to hear about Rookie mistakes we have seen many young men break into our lineup lately and I am sick of this cheap-arse coaches excuse for refusing to support Nail with minutes he has earned based on his results meaning his NHL level GOALS. Ralph tempers the reward and controls the dynamic in a totalitarian fashion and it is not respectfull in the least.

    MPS-Gagner-Yakupov on the second line for the rest of the year just like Ralph bloody well knows he should have done to create even better 2nd line offense, since the 3rd game of the year it has been obvious that we were lacking tertiary scoring from the third line and we needed Smyth-Horcs-Hemmer to provide it, but Ralph balked, had he made the right moves wayyyyy back then we would have achieved tertiary scoring and been left with just the 1st line to kickstart to be running on all cylinders, and this only entailed adjusting Halls puck managment and going back to the scoring off the rush constant threat and providing Nuge with consistant solid system dynamics to work his offense off of to set up Hall and Ebbs. These are coaching issues and Ralph needs to be accountable for them. Yes he has made changes but he has also been extremely deceptive as to the catalysing influences behind those changes, he has lacked a specific degree of integrity in his explanations to the fans.

    Ladislav Smid is in uncharted territory and needs to get some excellent advice from players who have been in his shoes, he has had a rough ride here contractually and it has been a long difficult upwards battle to get fair money because the Oilers began a program of psycological and dynamic warfare against laddy from the first day they signed him, tacticlly screwing with his mentality and development to always get the upper hand when contract time came, a really cheap arse way to run a hockey club, not good business practices as we are told so many bloody times by the Oil-luminatti.

    I like Smid and want to see him stay here for another 4-5 years, but to be blunt after the crap he has taken here my defensive loyalty rises and i want to see him sink it as deeply into the Oilers wallet as he can this time and this means going for the big payday and looking out for himself, Laddy has an excellent reputation league wide and has excellent value and he needs to know this right now, he needs to remember he has his own personal future to consider first now, he has paid his dues at the Oilers office already. Yes we all know that if he asks for to much he will force a trade—- or will he? Maybe the Oilers undervalued him tacticlly through a long process of manipulation and now have their sneaky little backs to the wall and deserve to pay the Piper finally. I say its Laddys checkmate and he needs to ask for 5 mill a year and make em ante-up, even if its just to shore things up now and they plan to trade his contract later he needs to jam them hard right now while he is in the position to do so a position he earned the hard way.

    Dont worry about Laddy he holds high league value and no matter what happens we will not be hurt as a team as we will definately get an equal return on him, we need to worry about gagner because as far as i am concerned he and laddy are in the same boat, they have repeatedly taken shoddy terms for this team and now they both need to hit the Oilers low and hard because next time round the kids will be breaking the bank and there will be literally no wiggle room to work with. At the end of the day these men need to earn a living and sacrificing to stay here doesnt gaurantee a Stanley Cup by any means, a player who has already cashed in on his prime payday might want to sacrifice some of his salary to come here now and roll the dice, but young guys on the way up negotiating and establishing their prime value CANNOT take that hit at that point in their fiscal career curves and the Oilers dam well know it, I say Karma should smack the Oilers on their arse hard and repeatedly.

    Gagner has evolved into the teams leader and it is what it is already it cannot be stopped, and Laddy has bled for this team since day one and will till his career is over and we all know this beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is what it is and cannot be changed. The Oilers have lost dynamic control of these two men, the team has had its full cycle of knocking their value down as much as possible as their careers evolved dynamiclly and fiscally and now the worm has turned in a huge way.

    Ralph Krueger is learning how easy it is to find himself exposed under the intense focus of Intuative Dynamic Analysis and now Kevin Lowe is feeling the heat a little, welcome back to the club kevin its been a long time since we danced. The manipulation tactics that were historiclly used here will no longer work for you as i will clearly and precisely outline the dynamic sequences you utilise so the Players can defend themselves from the high levels of manipulation and the lack of integrity that we have traditionally seen expemplified by managment here over the last few decades. Sooner or later you will clue in that promoting me is the only escape you have, the only rock to hide under. An Intuit sees through you by proxy, and cant even help it.

    Yakupov deserves to be treated like the Calder favorite that he is and so does J Schultz, and they both need teammate support in every game and they both need minutes from the coach in every game, we need peripheral motivation to get back in the hunt and we are failing to recognise and utilise opportunitys that are presenting themselves, we are missing the boat dynamiclly yet again.

    Ask Mr. Brown what he thinks of Yaks celebrations and what he would do if some lumbering oaf tried to snuff the excitement from the kid, just ask him as it exposes Ralphs lack of accountability as the dynamic tactician of this team. Ask Quenville or ask Sutter if they would hold back a talent like Yakupov if they had already made the decision as a professional coach to have him on the roster as an asset, and then again see Ralphs song and dance exposed as the beginnning of the long term manipulation process this dynamic action ALWAYS catalyses here in Edmonton, checkmate Kevin Lowe, get off the kids back and let him earn his way like you had a chance to do, how soon you forget your own career curve opportunitys.

    Put it this way , we have coached and managed ourselves into a corner here, we have maybe two or three games tops where the managment can function in denial legitimately but then is a firedrill and the players will recieve 100% latitude to go for it any way they can. It is nice to see some dynamicly balanced lines being put out on the ice, and it has been nice to see Ralph slowly ever so slowly learning how to run this system optimally, but at the end of the day we need to remember our committment to each others development in terms of individual peer groups and career curves. Gagner wants to smash kane, and Hall wants to smash Seguin and Yakupov wants to smash his peers, we cannot forget that we are the support system for all of these dynamic goals which are simmering away somewhere beneath the surface of these mens personas, they are all competitors and winners at heart and MUST be given the chance to excell, it is as critical to this teams evolution as any other single factor and no one is willing to admit this or deal with it in a tangible manner. We need some swagger and we need to earn it by achieving landmark goals outside our locker room amongst our peers. This means calder Trophys and All-Star appearances and Team Canada appearances and trips to NHL Awards night, but the only way anyone will ever get to these spots to represent us all is if we grow a set and start fighting to put them there. We need to learn to celebrate our own assets and each other a lot more, we need to recognise when we have an assdet the system can showcase and we need to do so. For godssakes dont tell me this team has tried to set yakupov up consistantly so we could see his shot utilised consistantly as a weapon, no way no how folks, it just hasnt happened, and if Ralph tries to say so his nose needs to grow one inch. You see we are failing to recognise this opportunity and are failing to capitalise on it and Ralph can pull the coaching decision card but he CANNOT give a reasonable and sensical rationale for his actions that cannot be debunked useing Intuative Dynamic Analysis.

    Now that we finally have Yakupov with the right players maybe Ralph can stop trying to defend his own poor decisions and put his pride aside for the team long enough to put these three back in the 2nd line position where they belong. Ralph intentionally puts them on the 3rd line to hinder the success he has been told would manifest itself when they were united, give it up Ralph and stop trying to submarine the lines ability to feed you the BadMedicine you have coming, put em on the 2nd line and let them light it up, take your medicine like a man. And leave them there for christsakes.

    Laddy, its been a pleasure watching you for so many years, and yes pal you have earned the right to bust a move if you need to, you deserve the money now and have an obligation to yourself to take it, in fact you must do so. I know this organisation needs you and your loyalty more than they admit but truth be told they cant reverse themselves out of this dynamic unless they open up Katzs wallet wide. And that being what it is I would have to say things are really out of your hands and your agent can handle things from here, let your fiscal advisors help you now more than ever in your career. And remember the NHL is evolving into a league where standup defense will be critical and your style supports this particular style perfectly, you are the stay at home component that supports a standup hitter like every team will have on every d-pairing very very soon.

    Yak has recently become more physical and has also began cruising through shooting lanes and hot areas more spreading the defenses out using his sphere of influence, he is so good that he evolves immediatly if given the rope to do so, he is the type of player who has the ability to correct his mistakes within a few minutes if given the chance and if denied the chance he will internalise the pressure you moron managers. Sure sure, dont tell me , thats exactly why you are trying to keep the pressure off him right? It isnt a long term manipulation tacitc righhhht? The jig is up we are out of time and we need to ride these men for all they are worth and take every risk imaginable , the time is now not later, if I dont see Yakupov and Schultz getting prime minutes and shooting the puck tonight I am benching Ralph and his crew and flying Nelson and his boys in for a few games so the coaching staff can have a closer look at how things look from upstairs,ha ha ha ha.