RANDOM THOUGHTS…UPDATE ON YAKUPOV

The day after the Oilers picked up a well-deserved victory,  the Oilers recalled Linus Omark just in case there weren’t enough things to debate in Oilersnation.

Before we get to Omark, here are thoughts from last night.

  • I thought Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had his best game in a long time. He was all around the puck, and once he works on his one-timer he might start putting up three point games. Until Taylor Hall returns, RNH is the guy who will lead the Oilers offensively.
     
  • Hemsky was also very good. He was excellent on the PP, and should have had a few assists if guys could have finished. He made a great defensive play that led to Taylor Fedun’s first NHL goal (NSOGDP). I only saw one play where Hemsky struggled playing the left side, in his own zone along the boards, but it didn’t result in a scoring chance or extended time in the zone, so it wasn’t a big deal. I know many people want to run Hemsky out of town, but he is a legitimate NHL forward.
     
  • Fedun struggled early in the first period, mainly adjusting to the speed, but he got better as the game went on and he made many smart, heady plays. Little things like faking a shot, taking a stride and getting it on net, as well as some nice outlet passes. The goal was fitting, considering what he’s gone through to get to the NHL. I see Fedun as a younger version of Nick Schultz. Not big, not a great skater, but smart with the puck and reliable. Schultz was a very steady player for the Wild, and Fedun might become that guy for the Oilers.
     
  • The best part about Fedun is that it was a positive story. Sports focuses on the negative too often, and it was nice to see Fedun score. Regardless of how long his NHL career lasts, that moment when he scored must have felt incredible. You couldn’t have written a more believable script. I know it was against Florida, but a win and a feel good story needs to be celebrated. You can’t constantly focus on the negative.
     
  • The Oilers PP looked very good last night, especially the RNH unit. They had great puck movement, and Philip Larsen filled in nicely for Justin Schultz. RNH and Eberle should have scored on the first PP, but the team did go 1-for-3, and they scored when it mattered most, in OT. The biggest difference was guys weren’t standing still as much as they had been earlier this year. They have the ability to make great passes, and if they can get the PK players moving around like they did last night, then we should start seeing more goals with the man advantage.
     
  • Arcobello finally scored, and he could have had a hat-trick. He has a good sense of how to find the soft spots in the defensive zone coverage, and now that he’s finally scored I wonder if he’ll go on a bit of a goal scoring streak. He’s had some excellent chances all season, but couldn’t finish. Scoring the game winner in OT should give him a huge boost of goal-scoring confidence.
     
  • Devan Dubnyk…He was steady, and made some great saves, but he gave up an awful third goal. Luckily the Oilers won in OT, or the Nation would be furious today. That is a shot Dubnyk has to save. No excuses. It is strange how he can look so good for every moment of the game, but then have one major lapse in focus and allow a bad goal. He has to find a way to eliminate those lapses from his game or he’s never going to be considered a reliable number one goalie.
     
  • Ben Eager is slowly getting back to not engaging in the games. While Luke Gazdic is finishing checks all over the ice, Eager is just skating around. In order for him to be effective he has to be mentally engaged. When David Perron and Taylor Hall return and bump some guys down the lineup, Eager will likely come out.
     
  • Boyd Gordon continues to have an excellent season. He set a career high with three points last night; he was 68% in the dot and solid defensively. He makes smart, simple plays all over the ice, and hopefully his younger teammates start to recognize that those small plays can be big difference makers in a game.
     
  • I liked Eakins decision to go with four forwards in OT on the game winning goal. Larsen had just come off the ice, and none of the other D-men have great offensive instincts. Hemsky and Arcobello made a subtle play to switch places, and put Arcobello in a better shooting lane and it worked. Give Eakins credit for putting the right guys on the ice.
     
  • I don’t buy into the recent trend of a player’s struggles having to due with who he is playing with. If Jeff Petry has a bad game, like he did last night, some suggest it is somehow Andrew Ference’s fault. Nail Yakupov struggles were due to his linemates, although after he played with RNH and Eberle his fortunes didn’t change. The onus is on the individual player to play well regardless of who he is playing with.

    Gordon and Arcobello have produced regardless of who they play with. Petry was very good early in the season, even though Smid struggled at times. I could understand if someone said putting Eberle or Yakupov with Gazdic and Acton could hinder their offence, but regardless of who they play with in the top-nine any player should be able to generate chances.

    Hemsky switched to the left side, for the first time in years and he didn’t struggle. I believe it is okay to hold the player accountable for his play, and not want to blame his linemates or D partner.

OMARK RETURNS…

  • I’m not sure why he’s become such a lightning rod for debate, but twitter was alive with Oilers fans commenting on Omark. Many of his supporters feel like he’s been unfairly picked on. I don’t buy that theory, but I also was a bit surprised that Anton Lander got recalled ahead of him last week. I hope Omark plays well, but he isn’t better than Eberle, Yakupov, Perron, Hemsky, Hall or even Arcobello at this point.

    He doesn’t fit long-term in Edmonton. That doesn’t make him a bad player; it just means he is in an organization that can’t use him. I suspect he’ll be highly motivated to play well, because he is showcasing himself for the other 29 teams in the NHL. If I was him, I wouldn’t re-sign in Edmonton at the end of the season either. He wants to be on a team that can use his skill.

    He’s earned this call up and I hope he plays well. OKC head coach, Todd Nelson said this about Omark, "He has matured as a player and a person this year. He is working much harder in practice and he is having more fun around the rink. He’s been very good for us."

    I hope tomorrow’s game goes into a shootout and Omark does another spin-o-rama at centre before scoring on the Lightning. I never understood why they whined about it the first time, so it would be great if he did it again. 

    No official word if Omark’s recall was due to another injury or not, but you wonder. He does give them 13 healthy forwards though, so maybe just a reward for good play.
     

  • UPDATED…. Lots of chatter than Omark will replace Yakupov in lineup. That is interesting, but it also had me thinking about another option.

    I think (don’t have CBA handy) that due to his age, 20, Yakupov is eligible to go to OKC, not just to juniors. So, would that be something the Oilers consider, for a short stint or a bit longer? It is just a thought. Many from the 2003 draft played in the minors, and maybe it is just a coincidence, but that draft class has produced the most high-end players of any draft in the last 20 years.

    Do you think the Oilers should consider letting Yakupov flourish in the AHL, if he was eligible to go down?

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RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

    • Zarny

      LOL…no kidding.

      Wsh was the worst team in the league last year after 12 games under Oates at 3-8-1. Ovechkin only had 5 G in the first 16 games.

      They finished 27-18-3 and won their division.

      Now that kind of turnaround for the Oil is unlikely; but they’ll be better.

      • Word to the Bird

        You’re missing the point. People are crapping because our chances to make the playoffs grow further and further out of reach as time goes on; quite the milestone considering we’re only a month in.

        • Zarny

          LOL…the chance to make the playoffs is gone my friend.

          I know. It sucks.

          But it’s ok. Playoffs were always best case scenario. It’s not the end of the world.

          They weren’t going to win the Cup anyway.

          MacT was serious. Bold moves are required before this team could ever hope to win 16 playoff games. Contenders are built on depth. The Oilers are the antithesis of depth.

          This year is about the kids learning how to play 200 ft hockey and answering questions like is Devan Dubnyk good enough.

          Playoffs would be a bonus so they could see how much better they need to be.

          • Word to the Bird

            I’m not one to argue with that; I never thought that they’d make the playoffs in the first place. At least we can take comfort in hearing that MacT would prefer to take a marginal step back and allow the team to gel before making a knee jerk trade for the sake of trading. That is a good thing right?

      • DSF

        The Oilers are the only team in the WC with a losing record against the EC….4-7-1.

        Their record against the much tougher WC is 0-3-1.

        They’ve beaten NJD in a shootout, Ottawa in a game where they were outshot 36-21, Montreal and Florida in OT.

        The mountain gets a lot steeper in the near future.

        • Zarny

          Steeper mountain but they’ll get healthy. This is a team that needs everyone to even compete. They’ve only got 3 NHL lines.

          They won’t make playoffs but they won’t finish 29th or 30th. They’ll end up 10th or 11th in WC.

          Unless they don’t get healthy. Then it’s going to be ugly.

          • Serious Gord

            They are the most injured team over the last seven years.

            Small size and lack of physicality are two primary causes. Those two elements still exist so you can expect the injury rates to stay high. It is not simply bad luck. It is a symptom – not a cause – of this weak team.

  • DSF

    Here’s how the last 10 forwards picked at the top of their draft class have done in their second season:

    2002 – Rick Nash – 41G 16A 57P .71PPG

    2003 – Eric Staal – 30G 40A 70P .85PPG

    2004 – Alex Ovechkin – 46G 46A 92P 1.12PPG (21 years old)

    2005 – Sidney Crosby – 36G 84A 120P 1.52PPG

    2006 – Jordan Staal – 12G 16A 28P .34PPG (Toews, Backstrom, Kessel drafted right behind him)

    2007 – Patrick Kane – 25G 45A 70P .88PPG

    2008 – Steven Stamkos – 51G 44A 95P 1.16PPG

    2009 – John Tavares – 28G 38A 67P .85PPG

    2010 – Taylor Hall – 27G 26A 53P .87PPG

    2011 – Ryan Nugent Hopkins – 4G 20A 24P .60PPG

    2012- Nail Yakupov 1G 2A 3P .21PPG

    The only player of that group who is anywhere near his scoring is Jordan Staal who was given the #3C position behind Crosby and Malkin and told to play defense.

    While I’m sure Yakupov’s performance will improve, you can’t use age or lack of experience to mask his dreadful performance unless you are willing to admit he should not have been drafted #1 overall.

    • DSF

      Bottom line is Yakupov has played a grand total of 62 games in his career. Comparing all these other players stats after they have had 2 complete seasons of experience. And conveniently omitting that obvious fact from your statistical analysis. Gives me the impression that you have an agenda and a bias.

      Steven Stamkos had 18pts in his first 45 games
      Nail Yakupov had 30pts in his first 45 games.
      See how i did that? Looked for a stat that proves my point and conveniently left out the rest of the logic.

      You may be right and Yakupov might turn out to be a bust. Or less of a player then some have projected. But if you are going to compare him to how other players performed during their 80-160 games of their career.. Then lets use Yakupov’s 80-160 games. It would only makes sense.

  • Yak to the AHL for a stint could be good. He’s clearly still learning, and he’s costing the oilers with many bonehead plays.

    he has too much talent not to figure things out, but I think it’s best he figures it out in OKC the, come back,to,the show

  • Admiral Ackbar

    DSF, your Yak hatred is rather obvious but this isn’t guilty until proven innocent, you can’t call him a bust yet. The kid is young and may very well have a long, prosperous career. A season and a half surely isn’t enough to pass judgment.

    You’re predicting DSF. You’re looking for evidence to support your conclusions but no opinion on Yak is credible due to a lack of evidence.

    Usually you’re more objective than this….

    • DSF

      I don’t hate Yakupov.

      Lots of things to like about the kid.

      But I don’t think he’s going to be the player that most Oiler fans think he will be.

      Dominant players emerge early with very, very few exceptions.

      For the record, I don’t think the Oilers should trade him because his value right now is very low and because we’re not quite sure what he is going to be yet.

      But this conversation started when some poster tried to compare him to Stamkos.

      He’s no Stamkos.

      • Admiral Ackbar

        Of course he’s no Stamkos, why keep comparing him to all the other stars??
        There was no Stamkos available that year.
        Nail was the best of what we had to choose from.
        Alex Galchenyuk is basically tied with Nail right now in points and games played.
        No one else from that draft year is close.
        It was the best pick available except maybe young Tommy Hertl.

          • Chaz

            I say Yak does it. Let’s bet. If he doesn’t I vow not to comment on this site for the remainder of the season. If he does get 5G 7A for 12 Points in the next 17 games then you agree not to comment until after the last game of the season. No goofy stuff like alias user names either. The loser can still read the stories and comments but can’t comment himself, cross his heart hope to die.

            Bet?

    • pkam

      Funny you mention Matt Duchene.

      If I remember correctly, 2 years ago he was called out by his coach and was scratched too. Avs ended up signing him to a bridge contract because they weren’t sure about him and weren’t ready to commit to him long term. And this was after two pretty good NHL seasons and 160 NHL games.

      I am pretty sure if Duchene was an Oilers, you would have been here at that time telling us how terrible Duchene was and even Jordan Schroeder will be a better pick than him.

  • DSF

    I hope that Eager comes out of the lineup. Our 4th line is just brutal and Eager looks uninterested out there. Eager is of no use to an NHL team if he is just going through the motions. I would probably move Ryan Jones to that line. I like Jones’ game right now but I think he fits well on a fourth line and he can make that line better.

    • Serious Gord

      Ever since he got concussed in the Joey Moss Cup game by his own team mate a couple years ago he’s never been the same. GD shame too, he used to have a real mean streak.

      • NsxZero

        Doesn’t that just make you shake your head. Losing the old Ben Eager in an exhibition match with your own team mates. I remember being at the game and it was a hit behind his own net and thinking nothing of it. That’s hockey I guess.

  • Citizen David

    To my eye Yakupov looks like he has first overall talent but is extremely confused out there. Not on the same page as the rest of the team. And what’s with the lack of setting him up on the one timer? That thing is a missile. Until a year or two ago Stamkos scored 80% (not actual just making a point) of his goals from the same spot using his one timer. Get Yak the puck near the net. He’ll start putting it in.

  • DSF

    Jeff Angus ‏@anguscertified 25m

    Closest Pavel Bure comp today. RT @jtbourne: My lord Matt Duchene is exceptional. He’s officially in Patrick Kane’s “fun to watch” echelon.

  • Rdubb

    Gregor,
    I to would like to see Nail go down to OKC & spend a good month or about 12-15 games down there under a different voice(s) and against lesser competition.
    It is my opinion that if Nail doesn’t pull his head out of his butt soon his NHL career could be over sooner rather than later, & even the Russian scout for Sochi said the same.
    For some unknown reason, Nail is being severely hard headed and is not willing to listen his coaches or his fellow players who I assume are trying to get him to play in the “team system” and all Nail seems to be worried about is Nail.
    I personally was worried when the Oilers drafted him 1st because of his “lone wolf” play in juniors & felt that the Oil would have been much better off drafting Galchenyuk even though he only played a handful of games that season, plus, he’d have filled a hole that the Oilers hand…
    Just my thoughts, what do you think?
    Peck

  • DSF

    The whole team sucks send them all down trade, them all it his fault no its his.

    Oilers have tons of talent its the couches that need to be changed. They have no idea how to run the ship, from the back end to the front end……….