Bogdan Yakimov bolted the Oilers over the holidays, the transaction finally up late this afternoon on the AHL’s (often newsmaking) transactions page. What might this mean for his future as an Oiler? Well, it isn’t good but it might not be the end of the line.
There is a very long list of ‘one-hit wonders’ among Oilers draft selections over the years, defined as selections who came up for one game before heading to lesser leagues to ply their trade. Bogdan Yakimov might be the most talented of all, and his quick exit halfway through the entry-level deal is a surprise and a disappointment.
Condors Coach Gerry Fleming: “He felt it was a chance or an opportunity to make
the national team (for the World Championship) so he went back. It was
unfortunate for us to lose him but he felt he needed to go back to give
himself the best opportunity.” Source
This is not encouraging—NHL teams use the AHL as a development league but also as an extended backup roster—and the world’s best hockey league doesn’t like surprises. In recent seasons, we have seen Teemu Hartikainen leave for the KHL and Toni Rajala ask for—and receive—his release from the organization. Both of those moves were off-season items and one got the feeling management was fine with both transactions:
Ralph Krueger just after Hartikainen’s final Oiler games: “He’s
trying to figure out what a gritty, strong power forward does and
what’s connected to that. What’s important for him is to continue to
manage the puck in all three zones.”
— TrendinginSweden (@SwedenTrending) September 17, 2015
Rajala’s situation was very weird, Edmonton bought him out after a strong season in the minors and a request to play in Europe by the player. I wrote about it here.
— John Rennison (@JLRenn) January 11, 2015
WHAT CAN THE OILERS DO?
Options are limited but Edmonton does have a few chess moves. They own the rights to Yakimov, and he has a year left on his entry level deal. The Oilers could trade his rights, or wait for his return, but I would think the ideal option is to have him return to Bakersfield in the fall, as one of the possible callups.
WAS THAT THE PROBLEM?
It might have been. Edmonton has sent for help numerous times this season, with the Condors sending Andrew Miller, Iiro Pakarinen, Leon Draisaitl and Jujhar Khaira north. If Yakimov was still in Bakersfield tonight, and a call came for a replacement for Pakarinen, would it be Yak 2.0? Probably not, I would guess Anton Slepyshev or Kale Kessy.
We don’t know the issue really, public reasons can often be cover for personal reasons or issues about playing time and opportunity. I dislike getting into areas unknown and hate the idea of casting aspersions. The bottom line is that the player is gone, and the team did not suspend him, preferring instead to ‘reassign’ him.
This isn’t over. But it might be.