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.

"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.

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.

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. 

  • Reg Dunlop

    Good thing we didn’t flush away that 1st overall pick. Who needs a good teammate when you can have the Russian Rocket pt. 2. Does this further diminish his trade value?

  • Wax Man Riley

    “Have you felt a coach not trust you in your hockey career?”

    “No, Never.”

    Gregor and Rishaug is being such a D***s in the presser.

    Gregor: “You average 15 minutes a game this year. What do you want, 18?”

    Yak: “No, not the past few games”
    Rishaug corrected him and said he’s been averaging about 10 minutes the past few games, and Yak agreed with Rishaug.

  • Serious Gord

    “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.”

    Very true. And were I the 20 year old with talent running out my ears, I would want as much ice time as possible. While he obviously had a great abbreviated rookie year in the NHL, perhaps he should have been kept down in the AHL for that season. Hindsight is 20:20.

    The question now is:

    Should he go down to the AHL for the rest of the year where he can get boatloads of ice time and be able to work on his game removed from the limelight (and get a reminder of what no limelight feels like)?

    It is notable the contrast between Hockey and the most difficult sport to play – baseball. In baseball it is very common to send players down to AA and AAA for periods of time to work on their game. Even the very best pitchers (halladay) have had it happen.

    There is little shame in it in MLB.

    Not so much in the NHL.

    And that’s a shame…

    I wonder how Nail would react to such a move?

    My guess is that that would very much depend on how management handles it. Looking back on how Lowe has handled similar situations in the past, I would recommend Nail demand a trade immediately and save himself (and fans) the angst and agony.

  • Wax Man Riley

    He is crazy if he thinks he has been playing well. He turns the puck over, flys the d zone with out so much as looking @ Ovi in the slot. This kid needs at least half a season in okc .Not saying he is the only young player that needs to learn to play both sides of the puck but with out a doubt the most glaring example.

    • cpetruk

      This is probably his point. Its not like anyone on the team is actually out playing him, and deserves more ice time. He’s probably feeling like he’s being picked on.

      Now, thats not to say that if he really felt that way he could try working harder and forcing their hand to give him more ice time.

  • aeiouY

    easy there YAK. We have your back right now…. but with only 4 wins this year the crowd can shift on you fast.

    Slow your roll, and play better. All will be forgiven