Nail Yakupov to be scratched again

 

Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins announced this morning that Nail Yakupov will be a healthy scratch against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.

The Player

Nail Yakupov hasn’t been good enough this season.

His stats line shows that (39GP – 6G – 8A – 14PTS, minus-25), and the fact that he’s getting badly outplayed in the most sheltered minutes available is a real problem. The plus/minus exaggerates things (last year at five-on-five Yakupov’s on-ice save percentage was 0.923; this year it’s 0.868, and one would need to be delusional to think those numbers accurately reflect the state of Yakupov’s defensive game in those two seasons) but he’s been getting out-shot and out-chanced despite getting primarily offensive zone time.

He remains a phenomenally talented player, the guy who led both his team and all NHL rookies in goal-scoring last season. He’s fast and aggressive and has a shot that is already one of the best in the game. But he needs to dramatically improve his overall play to be a useful NHL’er.

The Coach

Dallas Eakins, understandably, feels that Yakupov needs to be better if he’s going to earn more ice-time, and that he can’t just keep gifting him with minutes if the results aren’t there.

“You’ve got to earn it,” he says in the video above. “You have to do a number of things on the ice every day. Every day. It can never change. We cannot give things to people. You have to earn them.”

Eakins further said he’d spoken to Yakupov for “40 to 45 minutes” about the scratch, and that he and the player had a “definite plan moving forward.”

Naturally, the coach is going to take some criticism for the scratch, as he took some criticism for sticking Yakupov on the fourth line and slashing the player’s power play role. It’s impossible not to recognize the talent that the Oilers have in that player, and naturally fans want to see him placed in a position to succeed.

Eakins, though, seems clearly focused on the big picture. A scratch here or there isn’t a big deal; Yakupov’s performance this season isn’t even the primary problem. Yakupov is the kind of player who has the talent to play a pivotal role for the Oilers for the next decade or more. The problem Eakins faces is turning him into the best possible player for that next decade, and if that means making unpopular decisions in a season that (like so many others) was lost before the halfway mark, that’s what it means.

Yakupov entered the NHL and had instant chemistry with his first head coach, Ralph Krueger. His enthusiasm was obvious and infectious and a bright point in an otherwise unmemorable season. But it’s worth remembering it for what it was – that despite Yakupov’s point totals, his line was out-shot game-in and game-out, and that all too often he seemed to be floating around on the ice with no clear idea of where he was supposed to be.

Perhaps Krueger would have been able to correct that with time, or perhaps not. Now the responsibility falls to Eakins. Improving Yakupov’s game might be the single most important thing Eakins does this season as Edmonton’s coach, and given that he’s previously compared Yakupov’s problems to the early struggles of people like Steven Stamkos and Joe Thornton it’s a good bet he knows it.

Recently by Jonathan Willis



  • Nuge&Connorvs.Sam&Sean

    Thank god we scratched Yakupov. Might as well ship him out now for more toughness and guys who try really really hard but are ultimately useless like Luke Gazdic!!!

  • Nuge&Connorvs.Sam&Sean

    And the first first overall pick out of town is: #64!!

    Good luck signing the other Russians. But, alas, I am just a center ice fan, so what do i know??

  • **

    إذا yakupov كان لها هذا الأداء نفسه تحت أي مدرب آخر في NHL تظن أنها سوف babying له، ونأمل أن يحصل على أفضل؟ أشك في ذلك.

    لا أرى لماذا الناس ينقط خارجا على بعض الحب القاسي للyakupov. وقال انه لن يصبح لاعبا أفضل من خلال وجود من السهل مسيرته بأكملها.

    وعلى الناس أن تكف عن الشكوى حول كيفية Gagner لا يحصل خدش. إيكنز يعرف رئيس عمال هو مشكوك في 2C هامشية ويعرف كيف موهوب وجيد yakupov هو ذلك عقد لهم نفس المستوى لا معنى له.

    • **

      @BC Bear:

      if yakupov was having this same performance under any other coach in the NHL do you think they would be babying him and hope that he gets better? Doubt it.

      Don’t see why people are freaking out over some tough love for yakupov. He’s not going to become a better player by having it easy his whole career.

      And people have to stop complaining about how Gagner doesn’t get scratched. Eakins knows Ganger is a questionable a marginal 2C and he knows how talented and good yakupov is so to hold them to the same standard doesn’t make sense.”

      Why do you repost in a different language?, are you one of those people who live half way accross the world and get paid to post comments online?, and you just forgot to translate your post?

  • 6zeppelin6

    Yak is just an easy target for Eakins. Lots of players deserved to be benched this year but most of them make too much money.

    Barely playing and benching Yak may also be part of a bigger plan to keep his 2nd contract cheaper. We definitely can’t afford another 6M/season forward. The season is already done, so might as well keep Yak off the scoresheet as much as possible so he has no ammo during discussions of an extension after this season.

  • Arius Mumin

    Eakins is a joke.

    I wish one of those females with microphones in front of him had a set of testicles to actually ask a real question. I would really like to know more about this earned ice time and acountability Eakins speaks of, but everything has to be taken at face value and never questioned.

    I am not an idiot and I do not believe Yak and Igor to be. I hope Yak demands a trade, get traded for the lowest possible value, then grows to be an elite on an actual NHL team and haunts Eakins corny ass for the rest of his corny career.

  • Slapshot

    Eakins is an idiot,

    “I need him to score” how in the hell will he score with 6 minutes of ice on the 4th line.

    If I here him say fitness level once more ill puke look what fitness level has got us last in the west.

  • **

    Yakupov is going to end up asking for a trade, sent to a contender, end up having a great career, meanwhile the Oilers will still be bottom five for the next 4 years. Eakins is not going to take this team anywhere.

    • A-Mc

      Yakupov will likely never get sent to a contender. Contenders roll four responsible lines. With responsible people. Yakupov is not a responsible player. In fact very irresponsible.

      The biggest problem Yakupov has, along with numerous posters here, is, he’s nowhere near as good as he, or you believes he is. Another Tyler Seguin. Wants to be “the star”. Good competitive teams don’t care who gets the points. They play to win as a team. If they are trying to build a team here, and I do believe they are, he don’t fit right now.

      I also believe he’s heading back to the KHL if he doesn’t get treated as the baby he is.

      I am not a big fan of Eakins, but I am a supporter of this move. Keep him out for a few games. If he still hasen’t decided to play a team game, move his ass. We need people who believe in competing as a group.

      Make that bold move. If you can find a partener to dance with.

      • **

        Whether your work a drill press, or play pro hockey, you want to be treated fairly by your employer. Some of us see that there are others who are equally worthy of having a seat in popcorn row.

        Yakupov uprooted his whole family to come to NA. Unless he has no other choice, he isn’t going to the KHL.

        I am worried we are going down the same path that the Oilers went down with Miro Satan, amongst others, except Yak is a better player than Miro.

  • BC BOY

    if yakupov was having this same performance under any other coach in the NHL do you think they would be babying him and hope that he gets better? Doubt it.

    Don’t see why people are freaking out over some tough love for yakupov. He’s not going to become a better player by having it easy his whole career.

    And people have to stop complaining about how Gagner doesn’t get scratched. Eakins knows Ganger is a questionable a marginal 2C and he knows how talented and good yakupov is so to hold them to the same standard doesn’t make sense.