It looks like some folks are taking this opportunity (the Yak healthy scratching) to take their shots at the young Russian. I say wait just one damn minute! Yak City might be struggling, but he’s our guy and we’ve got his back!

Sometimes people just can’t see the truly beautiful because they are focused on the wrong thing. Case in point: an article by Allan Muir today for SI. Muir quotes Russian national scout (and former Oiler) Igor Kravchuk, who had some harsh words for our man Nail:

  • Kravchuk:Obviously, from what I see, his team game is really, really poor. He tries to do a lot of things by himself and he has absolutely no defense and that’s what really concerns [me] as a scout. But if he’s going to listen to what the coach says, if he’s going to change his game, then he’s got a future.”

These are tough words, but there’s some iron in them, too. Young Nail has been pressing, trying to stickhandle his way through an obstacle-course opposition often this season. His defensive play includes slow moving feet, a lack of awareness and we haven’t seen him haul ass on the back check every shift and that’s for sure. I have no issue with Kravchuk’s words, he’s a scout and was asked a question about Sochi and the Russian Olympic team. If he feels Nail isn’t playing well, that’s a warning sign for the young Russian. The issue for me comes with Muir’s framing of the issue:

  • Muir: Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins isn’t the only hockey authority who’s grown tired of Nail Yakupov’s selfish play.

I take issue with "selfish" in regard to Yakupov. This is a young man learning a new system and finding out (as the other young men on the Oilers are finding out, too) there’s a new leader in town and turnovers, bringing the puck back into the defensive zone, crazy passes cross ice to no one, and individual efforts will not be tolerated. Yakupov is balking at the idea, expressing his belief that’s he’s better deployed as an offensive player. He’s not refusing to make changes. 

Wake up call for the player? You bet. Stubborn? Sure. Selfish? I don’t see a lot of evidence, in Yakupov’s words and manner, and certainly not in Muir’s article. And I don’t see why we wouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt based on his own past.

  • Muir again: Eakins hoped to get his attention by benching him for a pair of recent games. Instead, a petulant Yakupov said, “I don’t really like playing without the puck, skate all the time and do forecheck and hit somebody every shift — I don’t think it’s my game.”

Petulant? It is certainly not the quote we’re used to hearing from media savvy youngsters, but I’m not convinced he’s being selfish here. I have to say this does not jive with my knowledge of the player. Perhaps Muir has encountered these things in Yakupov–he would certainly have access–but I think we have a right to ask the author for proof. I would also like to suggest that Yakupov–speaking in English–is probably more prone to using words that may not be ideal or politically correct without in fact having an agenda or being selfish. Agree?


The coach:

  • Eakins: "We just thought that he’d gotten to a spot of frustration where the kid’s passion is to score and he was just going to take it all on himself. You can’t do that. I don’t care how good you are, you can’t produce by yourself in this league — you have to use your linemates. It was more of a re-set button for him. He can come back fresh with a new perspective.”

This has been a tough couple of weeks for Nail Yakupov. I would hope that Oiler fans aren’t quick to pile on, and would remind them about Yakupov’s comments in regarding to playing with "my Captain" and other moments we’ve seen this year.

Yakupov arrived in this city with a boyish charm and a delightful passion for the game of hockey. Articles like this one are likely to make him more guarded in an effort to survive. And I believe that’s a damn shame.

  • Oilers Coffey

    Yakupov is ours Oilers Nation!
    He will break his mini slump and Celly all over his critics and haters!

    Shame Shame on those doubters!!!





  • vetinari

    There was doubts about his lack of defence when we drafted him . He needs to expand his game now more than he has . That should not be so difficult for a talent like him .

  • Mikey

    Yakupov is used to being able to just stick handle through the opposition and score. He’s still learning to navigate the NHL waters. Does he have a lot of work to do, especially when it comes to team play? You betcha, but he’s still basically a rookie and you don’t find too many rookies who come into this league without warts. Hall and Eberle certainly deserved their fair share of benchings in their first few seasons but a lack of depth on those teams prevented that from happening.

    The difference between Yakupov and some other talented players who’s games are rough around the edges? Yakupov is Russian. Last I checked so are Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Fedorov.

  • Mikey

    Play Yak. Give him a decent go or it may not bode well for us in regards to Slepsyev and Yakimov ever coming over. The Oilers have invested in Russians and I would hate for Edmonton to be seen as a non-viable option to the KHL

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    You dont often get a combination of talent and passion like the Yak. The Oiler faithful have been notorious for running talented, but flawed players out of town.

    I think the wanting of a winner by the fanbase is so large, that the pressure on all of these players to perform is incredible. The fact we are talking about a major trade, at this point in the season is major overreaction. Seasons can be broken down into segments…and this segment has not gone well, so far.

    The oilers have the talent, it takes awhile to come together, especially under their 15th or 91st coach in 5 years.

    I love the way Perron and Hemsky are playing. Perron was a major steal. Too many other players seem to be trying to put their team on their back and win the game in a single shift.

    Give everyone a break, its a long season. I am hating the losing as much as anyone, but take a deep breath, look around and realize, you are just sitting in your livingroom, local waterhole or entertainment complex on Game day 6,7,8 or whatever and get stop you finger from wavering over the panic button, because nothing good comes from panicking.

  • The smartest thing MacT and co could do at the momentis tell the entire fan base to take a breath. Seriously, the fact that the Oilers are openly shopping for a goalie right now is ridiculous. The goaltending has been brutal, down right terrible, but are we going to judge a season on 4 bad games by dubnyk and Eakins turning to a backup that hasnt played well either?
    Come on Lowetide, its not the time to sell anything, not that you were saying sell Yakupov. Trading for a goalie now is not going to be the answer for the Oil as the price for anyone with a better career save% than dubnyk will be stupid high.
    Lets put this into perspective. It’s been 7 bad games, but the fancy stats say this team is already much improved in creating and limiting scoring chances despite Eakins questionable system. This has been done without RNH for a few games and Sam Gagner for all of them. Eakins essentially plays only 3 lines, and the 4th line instead of being made up of servicible NHL players has a face puncher, a coaches son (we all know how good they are) and a Mike Brown….
    This teams problem have PRIMARILY been goaltending, but this is something that SHOULD turn around.
    Trading a player that broke STEVEN STAMKOS’S rookie scoring record in Sarnia and led the OILERS in goal scoring last year after 5 bad games and two – albiet questionable – healthy scratches would be boarder line Dave Nonis.
    IF im MacT I realize two things. First of all your going to get David Clarkson’d and over pay out the ying yang for a better goalie right now (remember that supposed offer for Schneider). You wait, you come out and state that you have confidence in Dubnyk and the team and you hold your cards until christmas.
    The Second thing is, you realize the league is different this year with the new wild card/divisional alignment. There is less conference play, less 4 point games. A bad start (by my eye) doesn’t look as bad as it could be in the past playoff format.
    Let’s see how this team looks healthy (after 20 games) and when Eakins figures out that playing your top forwards 25 minutes a night is going to have diminishing returns on there offensive outputs in the third period.
    This team finally has offensive depth. This team has 2 new D men, one still learning the North American game.
    Im usually a pessimist, but I say wait. Patience Oilersnation. Things are going to get better. Especially when Yakupov starts to click with RNH and those red lights start going off like crazy.

    • OttawaOilFan

      You aee in serious denial man. And for proof just look at whats going on in Cokorado and Calgary

      We need something to change the dynamic of this team and I think a trade is just what the doctor ordered

  • LT
    It can’t be lost on you that most of the trolls on this site aren’t even close to being legitimate Oiler fans. Hence the negativity. Notice they hide behind anonymous sobriquets when they vent their collective spleens.

  • geoilersgist

    Despite only having 3 points I think we’ve played quite well. The goaltending will improve, likely significantly based on past performance, and the team defence will as well as they get comfortable with the systems. A few less turnovers, a few more timely saves, and a lot more Yak city and we won’t know what to complain about.

  • I mentioned I’d like to see the Oilers move some assets (maybe even Yakupov) to land a rock on the blue line.. still stand by that. However, it has nothing to do with this supposed selfish Yakupov. I have nothing against him, and think he’s going to be a great player. I do think that he’s hanging on to the puck far too long, and could stand to play the team-defense game a bit more, but I don’t consider it a problem. It should be something that is easy to fix.

    Much of the media likes to dump on Oilers, never mind Russian Oilers any chance they can get. As far as Kravchuk’s comments… well… his comments and what he is “seeing” are probably heavily biased by Nail’s recent comments. And really, I didn’t like them either. We can try and spin them all they want, but I don’t think it was the right thing to say at all. I’m willing to let it all slide partly on the basis that it could just be “lost in translation” and partly because he’s young. Again, it should be easily rectifiable.

    I will say too, previous interviews with Yak haven’t given me the impression that he’s a hot dog or solo player or anything like that. Maybe the heat of the moment had him upset and saying things he now regrets.. I don’t know. But again, not too worried about it.

    Lastly, anytime someone talks about trading a player, even if it’s a good solid trade addressing a need, we’re “running the player out of town”… it isn’t that at all. I love Nail Yakupov here and would be content to see him stay.. but there are important needs on this team (for me, I say a #1D), and that stuff won’t fix itself by sending N. Schultz and a broken forward the other way.

  • geoilersgist

    I’m starting to wonder if Yak is missing Gags as they seemed to play well together last year .If McT makes a trade that improves the team ( ie wins the trade ) then anyone is tradeable including Hall or a J. Schultz .A good example is Perron for Magnus & a 2nd . We probably win the first couple of years and still have a reasonably young player . You can’t trade one of the newer young players for an aging goalie or “D” man and expect to win that trade . Hopefully McT & Eakins believe in what there doing and don’t jump out of the frying pan into the fire .


    I’ve REALLY hated how Yak has played this year.

    I WILL give him the benefit of the doubt. Last year I seen how good of a player he is, we all did.

    He is OUR player and as fans we need to have his back.

  • I thought the unfair Russian stereotype was in full effect, until Sept. 21st (video still up on the Oilers website, go have a look) Yak scored pre-season on a beauty pass from Jujhar Khaira, and skated right by Khaira over to the boards to hot dog his easy one-timer, didn’t acknowledge the nice pass at all from the kid who was going back to junior.

    That didn’t bother anyone else?

      • Nothing, I just felt like any criticism of him was based on the Russian stereotype of being lazy and selfish, but I think maybe we’re seeing a glimpse that at this point in his career, regardless of nationality, it might be true for him. I assume he’ll grow out of it like most young players.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    I have been on the road for two weeks so I haven’t been able to watch any games. But if you want to trade hemsky, and want to get a decent return, he needs top 6 minutes, which means yak goes to the third line. It means different responsibilities for yak which could (in the long run) make him a more well-rounded player. But it also means moving yak out of his comfort zone while the oilers build up hemsky’s trade value. It’s a challenge obviously.

    He got to the nhl by playing one way, and now they are asking him to change that and move away (at least for now) from what made him successful. So he’s having a bit of a tough time with that. Big deal. He still hasn’t broke 80 games in the nhl so maybe patience is in order? What am i missing?


    I have been on the road for two weeks so I haven’t been able to watch any games. But if you want to trade hemsky, and want to get a decent return, he needs top 6 minutes, which means yak goes to the third line. It means different responsibilities for yak which could (in the long run) make him a more well-rounded player. But it also means moving yak out of his comfort zone while the oilers build up hemsky’s trade value. It’s a challenge obviously.

    He got to the nhl by playing one way, and now they are asking him to change that and move away (at least for now) from what made him successful. So he’s having a bit of a tough time with that. Big deal. He still hasn’t broke 80 games in the nhl so maybe patience is in order? What am i missing?

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Pie in the sky. Lets trade for number 1 dman. What kind of koolaid are people drinking. Get your head out of your butts because there is not a single GM in the league who is going to give up a Nuber 1 dman for Yakupov or Eberle or whomever else the pundits wish to put forth as trade bait.

    MacT is not GM because he is a dumbass. Neither are the 29 other GMs.

    Name me the number 1 dman who you think a GM will give up for a Yakupov or an Eberle. Pietrangelo? Doughty?Weber? Fat chance.

    Pipe dream are filled with the stuff of imagination. You can wish all you want but that is not going to make it happen. Ever.

    This team has been moving forward in a rebuild mode for the past 4 years and the fan base is neither stupid or immature. There is a level of hockey intelligence that is here in Edmonton that understands what is needed to win a championship.

    MacT has had a short time to mold this team. We are further ahead today then when we had Mr Dithers as GM. While we all cried for Monahan and Nichushkin this year MacT did the smart thing and drafted Nurse. A kid with the skills to be a true Number 1 dman in several years. Not today. Not this week and not this year. You don’t truly know that you got a stud until he goes out and performs on the ice in the kind of situations that are demanded of a number 1.

    We’ll have to wait. Be patient. Bide our time. Enjoy the process. Rome was not built overnight.

    • Old School G

      But we need to dream right now! Just to reuse some information that I came across last night. I agree with what you’re saying but this Zidlicky trade proves that top end D men can be acquired without giving up one of our young guns. This trade makes a lot of sense to me as a comparable and the Oilers are a team that could pull it off current day.

      In 2012 Zidlicky was traded from Minnesota to New Jersey for:

      Kurtis Foster – he played for us once right? D Nick Palmieri – 24 Year Old Prospect RW
      Stephane Vielleux – depth energy forward LW
      2nd Round Pick of that Draft, conditional 3rd Round Pick of the Next Year’s Draft.

      Add in whichever players/prospects you want but the Oilers can and should be able to afford giving up similar type players and prospects for a top pairing D man, it’s been seven years, remember what Pronger did for us?

      • Wax Man Riley

        Pronger was had for Brewer, Woywitka(??) and Doug Lynch I believe.

        Exactly….. who???

        Ol’ 6-rings was on fire that day. Best trade ever made by my books.

        Actually, that ’06, 6-rings was on fire with Rolli, Spacek, Pecca, Pronger, etc….

        What in the ef happened??


    lots of coddling here for a second year player, with tons of talent/passion.

    lots of pitchforks for guy who’s had a real bad stretch but over term has been as consistent as could ask, considering the team infront of him.


  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Yak, time to be a man and suck it up. Get on the third line, learn how to play the other side of the puck.. didn’t hurt Datsyuk, he didn’t start on the top six.

  • Oil Fan in Ottawa

    Did I set a record with 123 props? haha

    I’m glad there’s a lot of support for Yakcity! He’s a good kid with a wealth of talent!

    Yakcity bitch!

  • RMGS

    “He knows what he is, and is going to have to learn what he can be. That’s a gap in experience, in knowledge.

    Not a gap in character.”

    LT, this sums things up perfectly.

  • RomZ

    Yaks is a trenmendous asset and one day will be a good hockey player. As a fan I desparetely want him to have sustained success..

    The comments from Kravchuck should be considered by Yakupov as he seems genunie in his criticsm. He wants Yaks to be a good player, and in the best league in the world you have to learn how to play with other players. Yaks is a soloist who plays a team game……….when he learns how to use his team mates effectively, look out!

    Any player who passes up a scoring opportunity or play when it is there……to rag the puck around and do nothing with it except to dangle, will soon have no teammates backing him up. I hope for Yaks sake he figures this out now.

    Eakins was right in benching him so that he can gain a fresh prespective on this matter.

  • OttawaOilFan

    According to Nick Kypreos, the Oilers organization has deemed Yakupov an “expendable young player”. Ya, right. Kyper… One to many blows to the head me thinks !

  • Admiral Ackbar

    The kid kissed his Oiler’s crest in front of 16,000 strong. He’s got heart. He’s got talent to burn. He needs to learn to use his teammates more, no surprises there. He is NOT selfish.
    Whoever things that has never been a young man before.

    Grow up.