Nail Yakupov wants more icetime. He wants to help his teammates win. He also feels his head coach doesn’t trust him. Yakupov spoke with the media after practice today, and it was clear he was frustrated. As he should be. Losing stinks, and I’d hope every Oiler is frustrated.

Yakupov is usually very quiet and reserved with the media, but today he spoke with conviction and passion.

He was asked about his agent’s, Igor Larionov, comments about a possible trade.

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"I know where he is coming from, we have to do something. I don’t see any trust towards me now. I’m playing lower and lower minutes, and I just want to help my team win every game. I haven’t had much chance to to that, and it pretty hard to watch the game from the bench when my teammates are fighting for puck and points, because I know I can do the same thing.

"I don’t want to say anything bad, but I just want to say that I want to be here. I love the city. I’d love to play with these players. We have a great staff and the atmosphere in games is great. I want to be part of the Oilers," said Yakupov.

When asked how he felt he’s played defensively he responded with this:

"I’ve played good. I’ve always played like that. I watch everyone play the same. I don’t think that question is for me, it is for the coach. I play good," Yakupov said.

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When asked if he asked his agent to go public he responded with a smile, "I don’t know, that is a tough question. I can’t say anything now. Maybe we will see if something changes in a couple of days."


He was asked directly if he has asked for a trade.

"I wasn’t asking for a trade. I don’t want to say anything bad, but I heard something (trade rumour) in the summer, something at the start of the season and then two weeks ago, but we’ll see…who knows. I just want to play. I don’t want to play nine or five minutes. I think I can play more and I think I can help my teammates to get points. We need points.

"I’m 20 years old and I think this is a  very important year for me learning to play hockey. Sometimes players who are sitting a lot when they are 19 or 20 years old they stop playing hockey. I just want to play. We will see if that ( lack of icetime) is going to be more and more, and if not we will have to figure out something," said Yakupov.


Yakupov is clearly frustrated. He wants to play more, and you can’t blame him for that. Was this the best way to go about it? Probably not, but he isn’t the first professional player to go public with his frustrations about a lack of playing time.

When Eakins spoke after Yakupov he wasn’t upset at all. He said he understood Yakupov’s frustration, but he said he has seen Yakupov working hard to improve his game. He also said that he won’t change how he coaches because Yakupov went public with his frustrations.

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The most interesting thing to me was when Yakupov said he heard trade rumours in the summer. I can’t recall any rumours then, but maybe the Oilers were shopping him. 

I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Igor Larionov meets with Craig MacTavish later this week. 

  • 2004Z06

    I think the biggest issue with this situation is Yak is not on a level playing field here. Taylor Hall, RNH, Eberle, Gagner, J Schultz have all been turnover machines this year. They are all amongst the worst in the league +/- yet not one of them has been sat. Eakins preached accountability regardless of age or money or draft order.

    All are accountable for this debacle, not just Yak.

    • pkam

      Hall, Eberle, etc put up points, does Yak? If you are a liability in defense and not an asset in offense, should the coach bench those who at least contribute in offense to give you the ice time you want?

      • DSF

        Sure he should bench Yak. He’ll just want out of Edmonton. That’s the kind of win-win you are looking for though?

        Does he have a sense of entitlement? Of course he does… he was picked 1st overall. At least he doesn’t through temper tantrums like Hall does on the ice. That’s just pathetic.

        • pkam

          So because he is 1st overall, he is entitled to more ice time and doesn’t have to earn it?

          Because he may wants out of town, then we have to bend backwards to please him and give him anything he wants?

          Is this the message you want to send to the rest of the team? Is this the accountability you ask from the management and coaching staff?

          If I remember correctly, Stamkos was benched in 2009. What a stupid move by Tampa, they were driving the best sniper out of town.

      • 2004Z06

        Fair point, but that is not what Eakins was preaching at the beginning of the year when he made his comment.

        Accountability for effort, and playing on both sides of the puck.

        I will give Hall and RNH credit for at least getting on their horse to get back to help defend.

        • pkam

          Can Eakins bench the whole team, or even half the team? Only if he can and he didn’t then your argument is valid.

          Everyone is jumping on Eakins regarding Gagner. Gagner only played 6 games so far and with a broken jaw. Yak at least got 17 minutes average for 13 games before his ice time was cut. How is Eakins not fair to Yak?

          • camdog

            Sam is a veteran of 420 NHL games. How how many more seasons do we give him before we know what we got?

            I guess Mact has promised him that he wouldn’t trade him this season and I think the no trade clause kicks in for next season. So I guess that’s 2 more years?

          • 2004Z06

            My argument is valid based on what this coach was preaching earlier this year.

            “Can the coach bench the whole team, or even half the team?”

            Really? I need to explain how this works?

            The Oilers have played 19 games this year. Yak was benched for 2, Smyth for 1.

            That leaves 16 other opportunities to sit a player. None of those opportunities were utilized.

            Gagner is a horrible centerman, always has been. His plus/minus, face off % , fore-checking ability and defensive play are atrocious and not improving over the last 6 years.

            I like his effort and he certainly has some offensive upside, but he is and always has been better off on the wing. Injury or no injury.

          • pkam

            If you think Eakins should bench everyone not defensively responsible enough, that is your opinion. I do not agree for 2 reasons.

            First, if you bench one player every game, pretty soon benching doesn’t send the message anymore and you lose one of your option to motivate or discipline your player.

            Second, you don’t bench your top point producers unless he is a real defensive disaster. Benching your top point producers send a message to the whole team that I don’t care if you can help the team win, if you are not doing what I ask of you, you are not playing for me. I think this is referred to as overcoaching.

            If you think Gagner is horrible centerman and Eakins should figure that out after 6 games. I don’t know why 4 coaches, some with extensive NHL experience, haven’t and some of them are even after over an NHL season. I just know that I am not more knowledgeable than any of these 5 coaches.

          • Rdubb

            I feel that the reason that these 5 other coaches didn’t play Gagner on the wing is because they didn’t really have anyone else to put there, or did they?
            After reading Gregor’s reply I went back and looked @ the roster for the past 5 seasons and that the Oilers really never any other options at Centre, & if I am not mistaken, Sam was put there out of a need, maybe you can answer that one better than I, but that is how I see it.
            Now, after a handful of games of watching Gagner & Arcobello @ Centre, Eakins should have a better idea of who is better suited for that position, & from the games I have seen both live & on TV, Arcobello is by far a clear cut favorite, much higher fo%, & if I am not mistaken again, I do believe his corsi #’s are much better than Sam’s when both play Centre.
            So why not give it a try, do something to jump start this struggling offense, who knows, maybe Sam will bust out because he’ll no longer have as much defensive responsibility and can worry more his playmaking skills. Hall took one for the team when the needed it, and now Sam must, if he is really a team leader?

  • 2004Z06

    Bob Stauffer sent a tweet somewhere around games 5-7 saying something to the effect of that if we are at the bottom after game 20 then there is reason for fans to legitimately get upset with the Oilers.

    Now he is tweeting garbage like “the team is getting better. Let’s compare to some stats from last year like shot differential and face off percentage”. How many points do we get for shot differential and face off percentage? Yes these are baby steps in the right direction… but is the the kind of progress you were expecting 4 years into the rebuild??

    Are you serious right now? We’ve waited 8 damn years for a return to the post season and you have the audacity to insult us with BS stats like that?

    I don’t want to lose any of our key players like Hall, Eberle, RNH, Schultz or Yakupov but this team isn’t good. We are getting schooled game in and game out and it’s the 10 minutes of skilled hockey we play that even keeps us remotely in any of the games we play.

    4 (or 5) wins in the first 20 games played should be a wake up call. 25% of the season will be played and we are on pace for 16-20 wins this season.

    Let’s just sit back and keep watching this derained train continue it’s path of destruction. After all, according to Stauffer we are a better team this year.

  • Serious Gord

    PROBLEM FOUND ? Onus on MacT. to correct it before things get further out of hand .

    MANAGING THE CAP – Taken from coppernblue article by gew_rocks . Defence – first pairing usually has 10% minimum with average being $15% , max.17% – we are at $8% only . That’s a huge problem with a bad defence to begin with .Ridding of Smid very questionable . Goalie is 6% minimum, Ave.8% , and max.11% . We are once again way under budget at 5% . Forwards we are okay except for being at max 15% third line .

    As one can see , when you scrimpout on goalie and defence you put an inordinant amount of pressure on forwards to over compensate their offensive games to accommodate the two worst areas of our hockey club -goalie and defence . Results show just that do they not ? Ridding of Hemsky and Smtyh might help alleviate that problem before allowing our youth to flee . Seems like MacT. the bulk of the problems here believe it or not .

    • pkam

      If salary is the problem, there is a simple solution. Petry and Schultz contracts are up this year. Just sign them to 7M and problem solved.

      The Oilers management had been trying to land a top pairing D for a couple of years. Rumors were Tambellini approached the agent of Weber and Suter and neither of them were interested to come to Edmonton. And we all know Edmonton was on the list that JaBo will not go to.

      Perhaps you can force another GM and top pairing to come to Edmonton. I am sure MacT will pay fair market salary or even overpay to sign one.

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    My god… you Edmonton fans are still drinking the coolaide huh?

    Listen to some of the garbage some of you are saying about Yakupov.

    The Oilers are a mess…

  • Word to the Bird

    Everyone needs to stop with the “Yak gets ripped but the other kids don’t”. Sure, the kids make mistakes, but they’re getting points. Bench them? Bench the only people on our team who can score?! Look at the stats sheet! Why would you bench our top 3 scorers, no matter how bad they’re giving up the puck? Yakupov makes the same mistakes, but I can count the amount of points he has on one hand. So sure it’s not completely justified but Eakins does have a point.

  • pkam

    While some fans here are bashing the coach and defending Yak, let’s look at what happen to this year 1st overall Nathan Mackinnon.

    Mackinnon also played 17 games averages about 15 minutes (14:55 from NHL.com) per game mostly on the 3rd line. He has 11 pts and +6. 3 of those 17 games he got less than 11 minutes. Other than the ppg and +/-, all other stats are very similar.

    He ties at 5th in scoring but 10th in ice time amongst all forwards. Yak is 9th in scoring and 9th in ice time amongst all Oilers forwards.

    Who do you think deserve more ice time? Did we hear Mackinnon complain about lack of ice time?

    • Word to the Bird

      If one or two players are making mistakes then those players should be blamed but if most if not all the players are making mistakes I would blame the one coach who is new. Eakins.

  • Word to the Bird

    IN A NUTSHELL :Forwards taking the fall for an understaffed goalie and defensive spending . That’s a managerial oversite of which the forwards are being unjustly brutalized for . Fix the backend and just watch how fast these kids will progress .

  • **

    Terry Jones:
    “It’s almost impossible to not interpret this as a player with the worst plus-minus in the NHL — whose defensive play is one of the biggest reasons the team is off to such a shameful start — showing an almost unprecedented sense of entitlement.”

    Then the response from Tyler Dellow at mc79hockey dot com:

    “It turns out you can check this in like three minutes. Overall, the Oilers are 30th in 5v5 GA/60. When Yakupov isn’t on the ice, they rise all the way up to 29th in the NHL. Just like the 1995 New Jersey Devils!

    Also of note: when Sam Gagner’s on the ice at 5v5, the Oilers are allowing a smooth 5.77 GA/60 at 5v5. RNH is getting hammered to the tune of 4.28 5v5 GA/60. There are a lot of culprits here. Singling a guy out unfairly doesn’t really do much to build your case that he has a perverse case of entitlement.”

    Terry Jone’s comment is just an example of the double standard and bias against non canadian players that some media have.

  • Rob...

    Maybe I’ve missed it, but Yak has made some nice plays to pass to Ryan Smyth lately only to see him unable to take the pass or otherwise squander the opportunity.

    How much of Yak’s frustration is related to doing his damnest to resist his urge to try to deke 3 players to take the puck to the net, but passing to the open man just isn’t an option with who he’s currently forced to play with?

  • Rob...

    Now that Yak has spoke out,how long before others start doing the same?I see bad things coming if Mact does not start doing something fast,everyone has been patient and now it is time for bold!

  • TKB2677

    Here is a question for anyone that likes to say “poor Yakupov, Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Schultz give the puck away and they aren’t punished, why should he”.

    What is Yakupov doing to help the team win? You are correct when you say that Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Schultz are pretty bad in the give away department. However, they PRODUCE. Not only is Yakupov playing crap defense and giving the puck away, he isn’t producing ANY offence.

    If he was scoring goals and putting up points but still getting the same “treatment”, then there is absolutely a case that he isn’t getting the same rope as the fab 4. But he isn’t scoring.

    SO if he isn’t scoring and a disaster in his own zone, what is he doing to help the team? NOTHING.
    So if he is doing nothing to help the team, why does he deserve more playing time?