Nail Yakupov has impressed the socks right off my feet this season. Seriously, they are gone. I have no idea where their ultimate destination will be but they were last seen heading to the horizon at an incredible speed.
YEAR ONE IN THE CAN
Look at the stats for yak at the end of his first season. Leads the team in goals after pumping 11 past the poor tendys in the final 14 games. And even more impressively he did it with little help. With most of his teammates hit a wall doing about 2 km/h with a dozen games left the kid just kept scoring and scoring and scoring.
And celebrating like a King.
Is Yakupov riding a hot streak or has he continued to iterate like Skynet and is getting smarter by the day? It will take a few more seasons to be sure but his late season surge has certainly given us excellent fuel for our annual "This is why the Oilers will dominate" line of thinking that plagues us all each off season.
THE BIG FOUR IN YEAR ONE
Look at the rookie seasons of the big four. Only the Princely Nuge posted a better PPG than Hall/Yakupov who somehow tied in their inaugural campaigns. But Yakupov gets the GPG title, when he accustomed himself to the NHL pace of play he found a second gear that saw him blow past basically everyone – both on the OIlers and in the Calder Trophy scoring race. His compete level gained steam as the season ran out of gas and the goals poured in.
Yakupov is going to be a massive – if not the biggest – piece of the team next year I’d wager and he has been arguably the highlight this year too. If there are 3 highlights to the 2013 Lockout Shortened Disaster they have to be Yak sliding across Rexall Ice and showing the three regal fingers in the air like he just don’t care after his hatty. The third highlight was the absolute obliteration of the Flames 8-2. Oh Flames. How screwed are you guys this offseason?
IT’S ALL BRAND NEW TO ME
In his first year as an Oiler Yakupov has done some really interesting things I have never seen despite my 24/7 obsession with the Oilers since I was old enough to work the remote control. Firstly this business of kissing the Oilers crest when he scores is intoxicating. Long a play for footballers around the world it shows some real panache and respect for the logo. Think you would have seen Robbie Schremp planting one on his jersey post goal?
Secondly we love Yak’s cellys despite the flack he has taken from commentators and opposing players alike. His glass smashing antics aren’t coming from a place of cockiness or showboating. Instead it seems to be pure joy – joy to be playing in the best league in the world. Joy to be able to smash into the glass at 100 mph and know the fans are smashing back from the other side. Joy to be potting goals for the Edmonton Oilers.
That everyone should be chucking up threes.
Finally one of 64’s first moves as a man on Kay-Z’s payroll was to bring his Mom and Sisters to town to live.That’s not exactly something we have seen around these parts during the past generation is it? Right out of the gate the kid has made Edmonton his family home.
Nail Yakupov is a legend in the making. There is no other possible outcome.
Big ups to @JustinBruyere for the brilliant instagram treatment on the opening pic of this article.