When it comes to the Edmonton Oilers, it seems everyone is looking "long term." Ralph Krueger is taking the longer view in regard to Nail Yakupov’s development, and Ladislav Smid is willing to stay with the Oilers–wants to–but also wants the security of a long term deal. Does Ralph have it right? Is Laddy worth a long term deal?

Ralph Krueger is taking things slow with Nail Yakupov. Is it a good idea? Yakupov is a tremendously talented young player, but he’s been sitting during most games with the score close in the third period.

Despite being a #1 overall selection, Yakupov is a long way from being the most used rookie in the NHL:


There are a lot of players getting more TOI per game than Yakupov, and I’d guess most of it comes in the third period. Why would Ralph do this? Well, one logical conclusion would be that young Nail is not familiar enough with many of the disciplines of the NHL game to execute them consistently. Thus coach Krueger goes with Lennart Petrell (or, unfortunately last night, Mike Brown) or Ryan Smyth when he tightens the bench. I have no quarrel with it, a lot of what  Yakupov is experiencing now might have to do with previous coaching styles and tactics. Not every #1 overall selection arrives in the NHL as capable as Taylor Hall, and Yakupov’s potential can only be helped by bringing him along at a pace that matches his development.

Backing off the Yak in terms of playing time may also protect him from injury, something the Oilers were unable to do with Hall and the Nuge.

I’m fine with sitting Yakupov in the third period, but would prefer the Oilers had a very capable veteran–someone who won’t take a penalty–in the role to replace him. I don’t expect this will be an issue next season.


We talked about the importance of signing Ladislav Smid not long ago, and it’s good news to know the Oilers have started negotiations with the young veteran. Smid would be one of the very valuable free agents this summer if it gets that far, and Edmonton is extremely vulnerable at the position. Quoting Edmonton Sun’s Robert Tychkowski in an article from yesterday:

  • “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an unrestricted free agent,” he said, adding he’s looking for a four- or five-year deal. “I’ve worked hard for it. I would like to be here, when you see the talent and the future of this team, it’s very bright. I’d like to be here but it’s a business. A business for them and a business for me, as well. I would prefer to stay here. We’ll see what’s going to happen."

My guess is he gets signed, but there might be some sticker shock among the fanbase. Smid’s holding some nice cards.


The time for rebuilding is done, and the time for team building is here. The actions of Ralph Krueger on the ice–being perhaps overly patient with Yakupov–and the actions of the management trio off the ice in regard to Smid, will be a major story of the spring and summer and the team build.

We wait.

Lowetide at High Noon is on Team 1260 today (noon to 2pm Edmonton time) featuring:

  • Rob Vollman from ESPN and Hockey Prospectus. We’ll talk about his brilliant player usage charts and specifically look at the Oilers. Their big blue bubbles (good) are in the "two way sector" and are youngsters, and their big red bubbles (bad) are in the less sheltered sector and are older, more mature players.

  • Scott Taylor from Winnipeg. Scott is a legendary writer and personality and always good for insight and a hearty laugh. We’ll discuss our national obsession: knocking the Leafs out of the playoffs. Also, some Jets talk (they are a strange team) and I’ll ask some deadline questions.
  • Michael Parkatti from Boys On the Bus is doing outstanding work and we’ll talk about some of the innovative ideas and findings he is bringing to the Oilogosphere.
  • David Staples from Cult of Hockey. We’ll talk about the Oilers and their playoff chances, look at the trade deadline and I’ll ask about Ryan Whitney’s recent improvement.
  • Jason Strudwick from Team 1260 will give us insight into the Oilers and this stretch run. I’ll ask about Horcoff’s future, Krueger’s 3rd period decisions and what the Oilers have to do in order to close the deal on games like last night.
  • Kent Simpson from the Team 1260 Oil Kings pbp team. The OK won their 50th game last night, that’s two seasons in a row. I’ll ask Kent about the differences between the two teams and we’ll talk Lazar, Moroz, Gernat and others.

Hope you can join me, should be fun.

  • RexLibris

    The Smid contract (presumably 5 years, $4.5 million per) may, as you say, have some sticker shock for fans in the first year.

    However, like Gilbert’s contract, with Smid’s gradual improvement and the likely increase of the salary cap, within four or five years it would probably be in the range of market value.

    Provided the term is there, I’m okay with the dollar figure as shot-blocking defensemen usually have a stable market value in the event the team ever needs to jettison his cap hit in favour of another player.

  • T__Bone88

    I can’t see Smid getting more than 4 million a year. 3.25-3.75 million is more the range he will be in. Although Smid is one of the best defensemen on the team, blocking shots and being good on the PK shouldn’t warrant more than 4 million a year. If he produced more points then yes he is worth 4 million, and not playing a single playoff game does not work in his favor. Similar players like Boychuk, Salvador and Jackman don’t have a cap hit over 3.5 million.

    • Lowetide

      It’s one of the questions I’m going to ask Mr. Vollman. How far ahead of the other centers do you have to be in order to be the ONLY guys in the quadrant?

      THAT’S heavy lifting.

  • Lowetide

    It is lame to see how krueger is using yak. Fourth line . Sitting periods. I don’t know how anyone can expect this kid to produce. He is talented, no doubt. He needs to be leaned on a little. Builds character

    • We’re so used to seeing young first-year players abused with way more minutes and ice time than they should realistically be given *cough, Gagner, cough* that when a new guy gets handled the way most other teams do it, we think it’s a bench management issue.

      “Play the young guys! Beat ’em up and put ’em away wet every damn game!”


      • Quicksilver ballet

        Let me fix that for you David….

        “Play the young guys! cuz they’re already so much damn better than the retreaded veterans in place here!”


  • book¡e

    So, you think Smid will be signed? You should talk to that other Lowetide over at Alan Mitchell’s site because just two days ago he said that Smid is already gone, it’s done.

    For the record, I agree with you and think the other lowetide is a little overly dramatic at times.

    • Lowetide

      lol. There’s still a chance they don’t sign him, he could be looking for $4.5M times 5 and that’s a tough pill. However, both Lowetide’s are enouraged by Rob T’s Sun article.