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. 

  • Randaman

    Eakins may have a longterm plan for this team but we are currently get creamed more than a barista at a Starbucks. Yaks cry for more ice time is something I applaud. Hear that sound? Its Yakupov giving a S#$% about this team. Wish I heard that from more of our leaders. He is frustrated at losing and wants to do more to stop it from happening. I’ll take that everyday and 2x on Sunday. Yak is not being selfish. He is saying what the other 22 guys in the room don’t have the balls to say publically. We suck and I don’t want this losing to continue. Whats the Klima quote. I can’t score from the bench. Another guy in the same mold. And all he did was score and wina Stanley Cup with the Oilers.

    Lets bs fly but whe someone speaks the truth I am going to go to the wall with the guy. Yak hates losing. He feels he can have a greater impact. At 4-11-2 we ain’t doing diddly. Let him walk the walk. Give him some rope. Pedal to the metal. I hope he proves all right. He is the guy we thought he was/is.

    • pkam

      Yak is averaging over 15 min per game over 17 games, and over 17 min over the first 13 games, and he has 3 pts in his 13 games and 4 pts in 17 games. So how much more ice time does he need to help the team win?

      Didn’t Ben Eager say similar thing too? “I can’t do much with 8 min per game.” I guess Ben Eager was right and he really wanted to help the team win so we should give him 20 min per game.

      Mark Acrobello had less min per game than Yak had in his 1st 13 games. Did Acrobello complain he is not having enough ice time? Oh right, he was averaging almost a point per game in his first 13 games.

      Hall and Eberle were getting about 16 min per game in their 1st year and did you hear them complain?

      • **

        your ice time average is out of context because Yakupov’s ice time has been greatly and gradually diminished over the last 6 games from a peak 21:34 to 10:54.

        Here are his ice times:

        10:46 (bottom)
        21:34 (peak)

        You are comparing a mature Arcobello, 25 years old, been through several pro seasons in other leagues, to Young Nail Yakupov, immature, still learning a language, his first full pro season. You are comparing apples with oranges. Remember how much leeway Hall and Nuge and Eberle and GAgner got when they were where Yakupov is now and then I dare you to tell me that Yak is not being given the short end of the stick.

        Taylor Hall first season:
        65 22 20 42points,plus/minus-9

        Jordan Eberle first season:
        69 18 25 43 -12

        62 18 34 52 -2


        79 13 36 49 -21

        YAkupov (games so far):

        65 19 16 35 -18

        average ice time (ES) on their first seasons:

        Hall: 15:26
        Ebs: 14:27
        Nuge: 14:33
        Yakupov: 12:34

        Yakupov has actually done a bit more with less ice time and given the fact that he played half a season, which cut his production short. HE might have had more points than everyone else given how well he ended last season.

        It is easier to throw hate at YAk for speaking his mind than to fact check and see if there is merit into what he is saying. This post goes to all you Yak haters out there who don’t even bother to check basic numbers before you throw your poison.

        • pkam

          I said the ice time of his first 13 game average 17 minutes and over 17 games average 15 minutes.

          Using the ice time you provided, if you add the ice time of his first 13 games, it totals 217:24, average 16:43. If you add all 17 games, it totals 262:59, average 15:28.

          So where is it out of context?

          Hall, Eberle and Nuge got more minutes in their rookie season because the Oilers were so bad those years that they were our best players even they were rookies. Even when they don’t perform, there is no quality players to compete the ice time with them.

          Now Eberle, Hall, RNH, Perron are eating the big minutes. If Yak doesn’t perform, then the other kids will get more minutes.

          I didn’t Acrobello to Yak. I just point out that Acrobello has to earn his ice time. Other than Gagner so far, nobody is getting free ice time.

          Do I think Gagner should get the free pass? No. I think he should be in the IR. I can’t remember which game but I remember his jaw hurt after taking a big hit to his shoulder. I don’t think he is 100% so I don’t understand why not only they play him, but play him a lot of tough minutes.

          • **

            I took the ice time from the NHL site. I combined the numbers from this season and last season.I didn’t just add them, you have to multiply the proportion of games from each season by the total number of games (65) and then multiply that by each average ice time provided by the NHL website. Your numbers are out of context because you are averaging this season. It is like saying someone is not starving to death because he has eaten an average of 500 grams of beef over 10 days, when the reality is that person ate 2 kgs of beef the first five days and then nothing on the last 5.

          • pkam

            You’re right, I am talking about his ice this season. Yak didn’t complain his ice time last season. Did he?

            The fact is his ice time has up this season until the last 4 games. He has about 17 minutes per game for 13 games and he put up 1 pt. Even Eakins cut his ice time in the last 4 games, his average ice time with Eakins is still over 15 minutes per game.

            So the coach gave you 13 games at 17 minutes per game and you put up 1 pt, what is the coach going to say when the other players question why they put up more points and better +/- per 60 minutes were not given more ice time?

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    Maybe Yakupov has anger at not getting ice time because he thought he might get on the Russian team for the olympics. But that dream is basically dead and he’s taking aim at anyone in authority

  • pkam

    Eakins is an ego maniac and has been hell belt from day 1 to show how smart he is. Exhibit A through E…

    The swarm defense…
    Using PP specialists to kill penalties…
    Playing players returning from injury half the game…
    Utilizing Yak on the 4th friggin line with plumbers…
    Having Sam (0 for November) Gagner take a draw in your own end with 30 seconds left when down by 1…

    I could go on…

    It’s all insane.

    He’s trying to re-invent the game and the results speak for themselves. Eakins – YOU ARE NOT SCOTTY FRIGGIN BOWMAN! Get over yourself.

    The destruction of Yak hopefully will be the impetus to finally get MacT to realize his mistake and rid the Oilers of Eakins before there is rioting down Jasper Ave.

  • BleedOil4Life

    Yak needs to take the frustration he had in Chicago and keep it going.
    Smash people
    Get out there and at like you are only getting 10 mins a night but want more
    Prove you want it because if you do…this team will win more games

  • BleedOil4Life

    He heard 3 rumours so it sounds like Larionov is plugged in. Sounding to me like its Philly or NYR base on the timing he stated. I hope MacT has some rabbits hidden cuz this is making him look bad and he better find a way to turn this around.

    What a freaking sideshow our once proud team has become. Embarrassing.

    • DSF

      The Oilers during the KLowe years have consistently had ridiculous drama and BS.

      There was the Lowe – Burke fiasco, the Heatley fiasco, the Souray fiasco, the Ryan Smyth trade over 100 000 fiasco, the Comrie fiasco, the Hossa fiasco, and of course, the Pronger fiasco.

      Now, we have the Yakupov fiasco. This organization is a joke and the loyal fans for this once respected team, deserve far better.

  • BleedOil4Life

    Do you really care if your RW on the first line can’t play defense?

    LaFleur, Bossy, Stamkos, and Yakupov need to score GOALS.

    Lafleur played with Lemaire who was great defensively.

    Bossy played with Trottier who was just great.

    Find a combination in the top six that gets this kid scoring and play to his advantage.

    Hall. RNH. Yakupov
    Perron Arco. Ebs

    Make a competitive group.

    What 20 year old is going to get better playing on you fourth line with basically AHL player for 5 minutes a night?

  • BleedOil4Life

    “he said”, she said”, etc, this is really getting to be an embarrassing side show for the organization. Losing, indifferent play, blender linmates, more airmiles to OKC than needed.. Who the …..k is running his Gong Show? The JOKE OF THE NHL!!!! Its a shame getting all those lotto drafts and this is where it ends up.

    Edmonton media must fear losing the free lunch… call like it is…. LOWE!! It starts from the top… Cant count Katz he;s been hiding under a rock all his life.

  • **


    Yakupov is not a very good defensive player.
    Yakupov was drafted for being an exceptional offensive player.

    EAkins said in the summer he would get to know his players by meeting one on one, having water cooler conversations, things like that.
    Eakins said today that he hasn’t spoken with Yakupov one on one about his lack of ice time or his level of trust in him.

    Eakins said in the summer it would not matter contract status, or age, everyone would be accountable.
    Eakins has 7 players at the bottom of the plus/minus stats. Yaks with -14, Hemsky and Nuge with -12, Petry -11, Schultz -10, Gagner -9. Who is the only player being sent to the fourth line and being scratched not once but twice and getting his ice time greatly diminished?: Yakupov.

    Steven Stamkos stats for his first season (79 games):
    11:58 average ice time per game
    23G, 23A, 46 points, plus/minus -13 (keep in mind he is a center with more defensive responsibility)

    Nail Yakupov’s stats for his first combined 65 games:
    12:34 average ice time per game
    19G, 16A, 35 points, plus/minus -18 ( this is the combined total of two seasons, with a long break in the summer that could be argued impacted the continuity of Yakupov’s development, given how he closed last season, he might have had more points by this time had he played those 65 games continuously. )

    Anyone who reads this please tell me:

    A) if Yakupov is being given fair treatment, given how long a leash Ebs Hall Nuge Gagner and Hemsky have had on season’s past ( I know it is a different coach but he should be aware of these things).

    B) If Yakupov’s numbers compared to another 1st overall who turned out to be an elite player are that far off course to be trying to run the guy out of town.

    Ps: I don’t like the plus/minus stat, I think it is extremely flawed, but I have seen it on Edmonton media as an indictment of Yakupov so that is why I included it.

    PPS: Jussi JOkinen was traded mid season to make room for Stamkos to play more minutes because that management believed Stamkos was the future even though Jokinen was having a great season and wanted to put him in a legitimate position to succeed.

  • Randaman

    I’m an oilers fanatic. So anybody with a heart must feel at least an ounce of pity for me. This year has been bad break after bad break. First our goalies became sieves (more so than normal) which lost us 3 or 4 for sure wins. Then the team had 8 starters out with injury, eight! Which lost some wins. And then they completely gave up. The team isn’t going to win a championship but healthy and a few breaks here and there and they would never have spiraled to where they are now. Its a disaster. I never loved yakupov, his talent is undeniable, but watching him “fight” in the corners for the puck is a joke. He doesn’t want to get his nose dirty 9 times out of 10, which is why he isn’t getting on the ice. The most frustrating thing is that that 1 out of 10 time he becomes super man and beats 2 people for the puck and makes a great play. He can do it but won’t. I have lost patience with him, now imagine if you played with him and saw him just fake an effort and then deal with the fact that he thinks he should just get more ice time. He isn’t a bust and will be good but he has to buy in and so far hasn’t. His agent is clearly an idiot. If he thinks that by more or less trying to make it apparent his client would leave its basically saying that he doesn’t want to play in edmonton. Congratz, now you have made a mutual benefit trade that much harder for the oilers (thus making it less likely)and you have alienated your client from his fan base who is already pissy, and rightfully so. I would have assumed that this guy knew nothing about hockey or professional sports but i know better. I think he was trying to force the time on ice issue for his client but made a stupid rookie mistake. I honestly think this could end very poorly for the oilers. Which would sum up the season so far. Enigmatic russians? I scoffed last year when some people said it. I also said that the oilers would challenge for a playoff spot this year. I clearly don’t know my butt from a hole in the ground. Please send the entire oilers team down to the ahl for a conditioning stint so we can get our confidence back. PS I think bryzgolov is actually going to be good in edmonton. PPS Dammit, I haven’t learned anything. sincerely sleepiness in Regina, via Edmonton.

  • Spydyr

    Hey Yak,so you want more ice time huh?Why don’t you try the old fashion way and earn it.Instead of whining in the media.He is just another young entitled or so he thinks kid.What ever happened to hard work and earning something instead of having it handed to you?

  • Space Cowboy

    There are a whole bunch of players on this team I would bench right now because of indifference defensively. The only difference being that some of them are at least scoring. You can’t bench everybody.

  • Space Cowboy

    What all the fuss is? Comrade Yak speaks of which is true. I too do this kind of talk. When my teammates do not skate hard back, then no fault they score goals in my net.

    We will be good comrades in cold Siber….er Edmonton.

  • Randaman

    20 years old. First full season and playing like absolute garbage, yet still on the NHL roster and getting good minutes. For this he creates a media side show and starts making demands.

    Get this prima donna cancerous wench off the team ASAP !!

  • DSF

    Some observations:

    As many of you will recall, I believed, and still do, that the Oilers should have drafted Galchenyuk. Whenever it’s close you should always draft the centre and it was close.

    Having said that, anyone who doesn’t think there is a double standard at work need look no further than the abysmal defensive play of Justin Schultz.

    While Schultz’s rookie season looked, on the surface, like a decent one, he gave up far more than he scored at even strength…finishing the season at -17…288th in the league among defensemen.

    He averaged 21:26 TOI/G.

    This season, before he was injured, he was actually playing much worse.

    While he was on pace for a 40 point season, he was also on pace for MINUS 58.

    Now, Justin Schultz is not 20…he’s 23 and despite playing 4 years in NCAA hockey, he can’t play defense AT ALL.

    How did Eakins respond to his putrid defensive play?

    This season, his average TOI/G is 22:01.

    That folks is a double standard.

    • GVBlackhawk

      And now Eakins is doing the same thing with Larsen. He has been abysmal in the defensive zone, but that is good enough for first or second defensive minutes on the team.

    • D-Unit

      I still can’t figure out what all the hype was about Schultz. Everyone seemed to wet themselves with excitement that a free agent, who never played an NHL game picked the Oilers. Seemed obvious that there must have been some baggage or issues, that he was a rookie free agent.
      Then the Oilers give him a contract that like he was a first overall pick. Why?
      My next fear is what they will do with him as an RFA. Probably want to give him a raise, which he hasn’t earned. This will be a big telling item for MacTin my opinion.

    • D-Unit

      I still can’t figure out what all the hype was about Schultz. Everyone seemed to wet themselves with excitement that a free agent, who never played an NHL game picked the Oilers. Seemed obvious that there must have been some baggage or issues, that he was a rookie free agent.
      Then the Oilers give him a contract that like he was a first overall pick. Why?
      My next fear is what they will do with him as an RFA. Probably want to give him a raise, which he hasn’t earned. This will be a big telling item for MacTin my opinion.

      • **

        You mean the J Schultz who was the best college player prior to turning pro? The J Schultz who was better than any defenseman available in the draft that year as he was 4 years older? The J Schultz who made the AHL look like a junior B league? That J Schultz? The Oilers have amazing talent. They just don’t have enough veteran leadership to hone it properly. Coaches can’t be held fully responsible – it takes peer support and mentors. J Schultz is a great offensive hockey player. He is exactly as advertised and exactly what we need. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough of our ‘other’ needs filled for it to make a difference.

        • D-Unit

          Cause in the system the Oilers never had enough Soft D-men?
          College does not equal NHL. AHL Does not equal NHL.
          Oilers scouting is pretty terrible, but when you pick #1 3 years in a row, you don’t really need to work on it.
          Agree the Oil need veteran leadership. As well, Advertisements are very often misleading…as I believe is the case here.

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    I never believed Yakupov should have been the overall number one draft pick from the start. I felt the Oilers should have never drafted him period as we had enough of those types on our roster at the time, they should have drafted for the deficiencies needed on their roster at the time/and or trade that pick for roster guys we needed bad.

    I definitely blame this once proud organization for where we are now, I blame them more for this current situation with the bungling ways of the coach and management.

    But Yak, if you wanted me on your side, you and your agent should not said what you said to the media, and / or play that card at this time during a very low, vulnerable phase of these bad times the whole Oiler Franchise is experiencing.

    You have now played the “What about me card”, you have essentially self centered yourself and put yourself above the rest of your teammates. Pointing out efforts and accountability about your teammates to the media instead of your management first says a lot about who you are.

    Stop being so one dimensional on the ice, and now in the dressing room with the media, you now do not reflect being a number one draft pick! Right now, I sure would not want you on my team or be your team mate.

  • DSF

    You can slice it any way you want, Dallas Eakins talks a great game but that whole bs of “accountability” “compete” and yet not practising what he preaches is what has gotten this room in trouble. Is Managenemt 101. The moment you lack consistency in how you treat everyone is the moment you lose respect from your staff (team). Yuk sees how other so called vets crapping the bed as bad as he’s and yet, they don’t get benched or ice time hasn’t suffered. DE is the problem and the moment McT admits he made a mistake, the sooner this team gets on track.

  • Batfink

    Accountability? Try starting at the top. Why should anybody be held accountable after the crap the management has put them through? Smid dealt for magic beans, a coach who never takes responsibility for the team’s poor play and is a snake oil salesman, other players clearly not doing their bit. Until they have unimpeachable integrity in senior positions on and off the ice leading by example, then we are going nowhere. This team NEEDS leadership, not purile dishing out of ice time to favourites, nor the sand bagging of the types of player with the character we need (Smid).

  • DSF

    The fans need to start being more vocal about demanding Lowe’s resignation. MacTavish’s too, since he only became GM not out of merit, but out of patronage. And come to think of it, fire Eakins too, since hiring a him was the mistake of a GM who did not deserve to make that decision in the first place.

    Also, the journalists need to grow a pair of balls and start calling a spade a spade. I`m tired of reading palliative pieces from journalists who skirt around the issues so they don`t lose their access to hot scoops.

    Next game fans should start chanting `fire Lowe,` or stage a collective walk-out.

  • DSF

    C’mon, anyone with a set of eyes and a functioning brain stem can see that Yakupov without the puck is nothing but a cherry picker.

    And no one likes a cherry picker.

    Especially, on the blue collar journeyman hardworking Eakins and Craig 4thLine grinder and hustler MacTavish’s watch!

    This is all nothing but a clash of minds. And the stupid thing is the waste of talent and the reduction of value in an asset through this stupidity.

    Just who is acting entitled here? *

    * Thinks of Souray saw off.

  • DSF

    Frankly, I hope for his sake Yakupov leaves this circus. Watch him go to a reputable franchise and light it up.

    Then I hope it prompts an exodus of our talent who want to play elsewhere. Maybe that`ll break the resolve of Katz.

    Once a competent management structure comes in, it will take years for them to undo the mess these losers have made.

  • **

    Calm down folks. Everybody involved has to take a deep breath on this ones. The kid is frustrated and it might be best for everyone that he blew off some steam. Yes, his defensive play has been unacceptable, but he has a lot of company, especially Justin Schultz, as DSF correctly points out.

    If Yak has to earn his ice time What about Gagner, Hall, Hemsky and Justin Schultz? Hall’s offensive contribution helps obviously, but he is still a major offender defensively. Nuge and Arcobello bust their butts in both ends, why can’t the other top six players. Eberle and Perron are okay, but could also play better on the defensive end.

    Last season they worked hard with Yak and he got to be a far more complete player as the year went along. Where has all that gone?

    I think it is pretty obvious by this point that Eakins isn’t exactly a strategic genius. My cat could pick better line combinations and his defensive system design has been a series of busts. Putting Gagner at center for his first game back and matching him up against the red hot Kessel line was a very predictable shocker, just to name one example.

    Remember one more thing about Yak. He is a Russian and they have a hockey league. If things become intolerable here he has an easy option. He is going to have to dig down and play a far more complete game, but if he can sit and watch or be shifted down to the 4th line so can others. How about a concession which is just common sense anyway. Put Yak on the first PP unit. He’s got the best shot on the team by a mile and every one else on the unit is a pass first guy. Let that cannon rip. And give him some extra shifts on the top three lines if you play on the 4th. its not like we have anything to lose. Except a proud, gifted but flawed young player who will be a star somewhere eventually.

  • GVBlackhawk

    We need a better second line centre that plays both ends of the ice. We need that so guys like yakupov have more free reign to utilize their strengths rather than grossly expose their weaknesses. See ya gagner.