Monday Mailbag – What will happen to Yakupov?

Mailbag 18

It’s that time of the week when our panel of geniuses answer all of life’s most difficult questions. You want to know what’s happening with the Oilers, and life in general, and the mailbag is here you help you figure it all out. It’s time to learn again!

1) Barrett asks – What do you think will happen with Nail Yakupov going forward? Would there be any market for this player? He is obviously not producing at the rate you would expect from a first overall pick and I wonder if his days in Edmonton are numbered.

Jonathan Willis:

It turns out that playing with Mark Letestu is not a great way to get on an offensive roll. Huh. Yakupov’s an interesting player, particularly because he played so well with McDavid earlier this year. If he ends up in the role again next season he may be a competent scorer at a modest $2.5 million price-point, so that has some value. Basically it comes down to whether that’s worth more or less than what Edmonton would get in trade. I don’t know that his days are numbered, though he certainly isn’t untouchable.

Robin Brownlee:

Yes, his days in Edmonton are numbered. Doesn’t produce enough to play in the top six and isn’t suited to a bottom six role. Complicating factor is his trade value is next-to-nothing right now.

Jeanshorts:

As much as I love Yak, I also agree that I think his days with the club are numbered. We talked about this with a friend of ours and we all kind of came to the conclusion that we can see his future being a decent complimentary player, just not with the Oilers. This same person also told us a story about talking to McLellan after a pre-camp skate, and McLellan commented that Yak “sure looked busy out there, huh?” Meaning he was doing a lot of bobbing and weaving and head fakes, but wasn’t accomplishing much, if anything. Which I think is his biggest problem: he tries to do too much while managing to do a lot of nothing at the same time.

The Oilers have done Yak no favours either though, constantly putting him on lines with guys like Mark Letestu and Anton Lander, so is it any wonder he hasn’t been able to find any kind of consistency offensively?

I can see a scenario in which he’s either traded, or the Oilers just straight up let him walk, and he finds a coach who is able to break through to him, and he has an okay career in an Andrew Cogliano type role in the bottom six. I can also see a scenario in which he finally goes back home to Russia and has a pretty decent time in the KHL too, which I can’t imagine would be the worst thing for him either.

Lowetide:

I think Todd McLellan and Peter Chiarelli have to figure out what role they are comfortable having him play, and if there isn’t one, they need to send him away. We have no way to know, beyond the fact he doesn’t have an established role at this time.

Matt Henderson:

I think his value is pretty low around the league. Considering how cheap he is and how well he looked with McDavid I would consider keeping him and moving others who have much higher value. What I think is more likely, however, is that the Oilers sell low on Yak.

Baggedmilk:

I love Yak and it pains me to say but I don’t think he’s destined to be an Oiler for much longer. He’s not a Chiarelli type guy, and he doesn’t seem to be in McLellan’s good books either. I think there’s a player there, but I don’t think it’ll come out in Edmonton. He’s going to be sold low, or walk away at the end of the deal and wind up somewhere else. It’s a shame. 

2) Alexandre asks – I know Justin Schultz is public enemy #1 around here but has he been as bad as the Internet leads me to believe? Which teams do you think might be interested in him come trade deadline time?

Jonathan Willis:

No, he’s not been as bad as internet chatter might lead you to believe. He’s basically a third-pair even-strength defenceman/power play specialist who a) gets asked to do more than he’s capable of doing and b) is in a nasty offensive dry spell. As for who might be interested, nobody should be. Christian Ehrhoff cleared waivers the other day and at this point he’s a better, cheaper version of the same player.

Robin Brownlee:

Doesn’t produce. Doesn’t defend. His confidence is non-existent. Teams? Who needs a player like that?

Jeanshorts:

No, he hasn’t been as bad as Twitter/the comments would lead you to believe. I mean, he’s been bad, don’t get me wrong, but it’s one of those things where he’ll be fine for 75% of his shifts, but then he goes out and Jultz’s and it either leads to a scoring chance or a goal, and that’s all anyone fixates on, because it’s so glaringly obvious. Much like Yak I think he’s another guy who could benefit from a change of scenery, and a new team that shelters him rather than constantly throwing him to the wolves no matter what.

I can see a team like Tampa taking a real hard look at Schultz. According to reports Steve Yzerman has been a decent fan of his for a while, and with Jason Garrison going down to injury for at least three weeks he could be a fit as a bottom pairing puck mover as the Lighting try to hold onto a Wild Card spot. SCHULTZ FOR STAMKOS YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!

Lowetide:

Schultz is frustrating because he is a great skater, has good size and inside the offensive zone I believe he is an excellent playmaker. The rest of his game is wildly inconsistent. I think a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins would like him for two reasons: Low ask from the Oilers in trade, and he can play with skill.

Matt Henderson:

Most games he’s bad. In particular he’s bad at the things he’s supposed to be good at. Nobody said he could actually defend, but people STILL say he can move the puck and attack. He can do neither of those things very well either. Word from people like Pierre LeBrun is that there are teams that think they can fix him. Tampa Bay just lost Garrison for a few weeks. They might think about it. The Oilers should be looking for bubble teams or those with D injuries looking for a pure rental.

Baggedmilk:

No one is ever as bad as Twitter says they are. There are times where Justin Schultz does good things, but the problem is that it doesn’t happen nearly enough. I also don’t blame Justin Schultz for the way MacT overhyped him with the Norris potential comment, or with the weird contracts he signed. That being said, Schultz hasn’t been a very good NHL defenseman and that’s nobody’s fault but his own. 

3) David asks – Are you concerned that the Oilers never seem to have two scoring lines going at the same time? Leon Draisaitl and Taylor Hall have been quiet since Connor came back, and I would have thought the easier defensive matchups would have helped them?

Jonathan Willis:

What easier defence matchups? New Jersey didn’t match Andy Greene, its go-to-workhorse against McDavid; it matched him up against Hall and Draisaitl. Ditto for the Islanders and Travis Hamonic. Toronto has Morgan Rielly out against McDavid, though, so we will see the shift going forward (this was written on Friday, so it doesn’t address the weekend games). And any easier defence matchups are more than undone by reductions in ice-time , particularly on the power play. Connor McDavid came back on Feb. 2. Immediately prior to his return, Hall had played 20+ minutes/game in 12 of his previous 19 contests. He hasn’t done it once in the six games since.

Robin Brownlee:

Who wouldn’t be concerned? Didn’t expect them to stay as hot as they were but you don’t want to see them go this cold, either. Having two lines that other coaches have to worry about is a big advantage when it comes to match-ups and the Oilers don’t have that right now.

Jeanshorts:

I’m more confused than concerned. Like, I understand that guys are going to go through hot and cold streaks and for whatever reason those hot streaks don’t tend to line up together. But it’s amazing how it seems that EVERY TIME one line gets hot, all three other lines just fall down a hole. I feel like a lot of it is due to the fact that pretty much all of the Oilers top guys are still under the age of 25, so they’re going to be more inconsistent due to still maturing as an NHL player, but you have to think AT SOME POINT the Oilers would stumble backwards into having at least two lines going at the same time.

Lowetide:

A lot of Edmonton’s problems are in regard to injury. A top six F that includes Hall, Pouliot, Nuge, McDavid, Eberle and Leon will kill you.

Matt Henderson:

I’m not super concerned just yet, but it sure as heck would be nice. It sort of reinforces for me how it would be premature to trade RNH leaving two inexperienced kids as the top 2 Cs.  Hall is too good to stay in a funk for a long time. I just want to see this team healthy for an extended time before I really panic about anything.

Baggedmilk:

I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about Taylor Hall playing with Mark Letestu on Saturday night. Trade Nuge? No thank you. 

4) Cynthia asks – What has been a bigger issue for the players that have been around for a while – the constant losing or the carousel of head coaches?

Jonathan Willis:

One begets the other. Rephrasing your question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Robin Brownlee:

Both are issues, but I see the constant changes behind the bench as the bigger problem.

Jeanshorts:

I think it’s a combination of both. Obviously the losing is probably a bigger part. As we’ve seen with some guys over the years once the season hits a certain point and the team continually loses they just kind of check out and count down the days until they can restart and look toward the next season. But at the same time while that is happening they also look at the coach and go, “Well if a new guy is coming in in a few months what’s even the point of listening to a game plan or learning systems?” and then we get what we had up until McLellan showed up: guys all over the ice doing a million different things and not a trace of any kind of system or continuity in place. Having McLellan here bringing consistency (and a legit coaching staff with results to back it up) will go a long way to correcting the constant losing.

Lowetide:

I suspect one inspires the other.

Matt Henderson:

Both? Either? They’re kind of related. I think losing undermines the confidence of these kinds of high-end athletes who just don’t have a history of dealing with losses. I also think having 5-6 different voices in your head when you’re back-checking probably isn’t helpful either.

Baggedmilk:

I think the coaching carousel has been a huge problem for the Oilers. Not only did they play for a lot of coaches, they played for the wrong coaches. I look forward to seeing Todd McLellan around for a while. 

5) Oil Fan in Van asks – Who is the most annoying fanbase in professional sports and why?

Jonathan Willis:

Definitely Ancient Rome. It may be that the Republic was doomed anyway, but first Sulla and later Julius rather effectively used gladiatorial games as methods for furthering their own political ambitions, ambitions which hastened the decline of and ultimately destroyed the Republic.

Robin Brownlee:

Vancouver fans. They riot and hurt each other when their team loses.

Jeanshorts:

I’m going to go with Oiler fans. There are those people out there who are NEVER happy, no matter what. McDavid scores five points in a game? “YEAH WELL IT’S JUST THE LEAFS WAKE ME UP WHEN IT’S A GOOD NHL TEAM” as if scoring five points in an NHL game at NINETEEN is a thing that people do regularly.

There’s also the woe-is-me why can’t anything good EVER happen to the Oilers, as if they haven’t been gifted FOUR first overall picks in the last six years, ALONG WITH the fact that those 80’s Dynasty teams were arguably some of the best teams in NHL history, and won FIVE cups within a large majority of the fan bases lifetime (those five cups also put the Oilers franchise in the top five most cup wins OF ALL TIME by the way). OH HEY GANG, DID I MENTION WE HAD WAYNE FREAKING GRETZKY PLAY FOR US AND SET ALL SORTS OF UNTOUCHABLE RECORDS WHILE WEARING AN ORANGE AND BLUE JERSEY? You know how many fan bases would KILL for that??

Then there’s the constant Wheel Of Blame® that hasn’t stopped spinning since 2011. Team is losing? 

TAYLOR HALL IS A CANCER IN THE ROOM! Hall is in the top 5 in NHL scoring? WELL THEN NOW IT’S NUGE’S FAULT HE’S TOO SMALL AND WILL NEVER BE A TOP 6 CENTER! Lather, rinse, repeat, gouge my own eyes out.

The team has rightfully been the laughing stock of the league for closing in on almost a decade now. And a large segment of the fan base has made this unbearable stretch of garbage hockey even more unbearable. And if you’re offended by this and think I’m talking about you then you’re EXACTLY who I’m talking about! Now go on and waste company time telling me how much I suck in the comments!

Lowetide:

Ahh, well. Hmmm. I think all fanbases have good and bad, and would add you may be living close to the champions in this area. 🙂

Matt Henderson:

I’m split between Yankee fans and Canucks fans. Cheering for either team is like cheering for Bradley Cooper’s character in Wedding Crashers. The Yankees will buy their place in Baseball history until the Federation of Planets abolishes currency. The Canucks are going to Canuck forever and always until time as we know it ends and the Universe collapses on itself. Fans cheering for either are obviously malfunctioning in some perverse way.

Baggedmilk:

Canucks fans love to trash their own city, but then again so do Habs fans. Calgary fans are annoying based on their willingness to wear those horrible jerseys alone. That being said, Leafs fans are the most annoying because they’re everywhere despite the fact that their team hasn’t won’t anything since before most of them were born. 

  • Randaman

    Everybody is missing one HUGE element on this ongoing Yak debate.

    How does he fit and is he liked in the room? Does his all over the place style make him undesireable to play with?

    I would be willing to bet that these are big issues. Who would you rather piss off? McDavid, Hall or Yak.

    I know who I trade.

    Signed, unsubstantiated speculation

    • This “in the room” BS is just that. BS.

      There’s not a single commenter here who could substantiate whether or not any Oilers player is affecting the team dynamic. NOT ONE. And no, I won’t accept “Did you see the sideways glance Hall gave Yak after that blown pass? YAK IS OBVIOUSLY POISONING THE ROOM DERP!”

  • Randaman

    @Willis

    JShultz a PP specialist bahahaha do you even look at the PPG or PPA this guy is a joke everywhere and anytime he is on the ice. The play dies on his unenthusiastic stick.

    Remember Jultzing is a real thing now!

  • Randaman

    Yes, BM, Oilers fans are disgustingly whiney brats, and thanks for saying so. We run guys out of town, we wail grief, we get over-excited anticipating, and we constantly defend guys who cannot begin to play 60 minutes of non-KHL hockey (I’m looking at YOU, Nail). Sit back, enjoy the McDavid ride, and STOP CRYING LIKE LITTLE BABIES. Support the damn team when they play well, and use some simple human decency when they don’t!

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Remember when fans were feeling that CHIA should sign Schlemko on the cheap and just not offer Jutlz a contract or ship him to AHL…

    All Oilers Nation Bloggers felt that was horrible idea and that Jultz should be given a chance and that he showed well in Preseason blah blah..

    Schlemko has 16 points (7 goals) brings the exact same thing Shultz does at $625,000.

    Shultz has nine points, 3 goals and costs $3.9 mill.

    I hope CHIA has some master plan here… He didn’t buy out Niktin and Ferrence.. So I hope he has something in mind… he missed an opportunity to improve the team THIS year.

    Maybe he is going to sign Stamkos and deal Hall and Nuge for the defense-men we need. Who knows…

    But with only Yandle, Hamuis, Goligoski, Campbell, Quincy, and Coburn being the top Dmen available through UFA… My hopes are not that high in improving this team next year through free agency.

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Henderson got it right with readers to letting Nuge go. Drai and mcdavid are good but very under experianced. As good as they are there at other nuances in the NHL game only learned through experiance. KEEP NUGE. Even if you wanted to trade him, he won’t get what we all want.

    • You say that like nuge is some sort of battle tested veteran that’s seen it all and can show these guys some tricks of the trade.

      In reality nuge is a young kid himself that’s never seen post season play and has a lot to work on his game as well

  • Yak only has himself and his agent to blame for the situation he’s in. Coming out of Junior they said if he goes back to junior he was going back to Russia. He should of been sent to junior to learn the defensive side of the game as he couldn’t have gone to the AHL. Yak should have spent another year in junior and then a year in the AHL. His coach’s from atom all the way to junior never taught him anything about playing in his own end of the ice or did Yak just refuse to listen and spent all his time hanging out at the red line. I see Yak as being one of those drill killers that drive coaches crazy, has no hockey IQ. Time to cut bait and move on.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Dominatio To Follow

    CLB needs to dump salary, attendance is down to under 13k a game.

    Hartnell(3×4.25mil) for Yakupov(2×2.5mil) would work for both teams.

    Schultz and his 4 mil in cap space will be off the books next season.

    Good luck to him, I’m sure he will have a great AHL career.

  • Word to the Bird

    Miami Heat fans during the Lebron era were awful too. So incredibly obvious they were bandwagoners, and no respect for D-wade at all once James came in!

  • Spydyr

    Anyone remember when Yak was a rookie? Scored his first goal and hes leaping into the glass, wild enthusiasm. and everyone loved i. who did that remind you of? Ovechkin. I’m NOT saying Yak is comparable in talent, of course he isnt. but he was fun to watch, Washington fans LOVE Ovechkin, they put up with his defensive short comings knowing that could be developed. You Cant Teach Talent! on a much smaller scale i believed Yak could bring that excitement, he didnt look that bad with McDavid. But he got screwed over by bad coaches. Yeah i think hes done here too, too bad.

  • Spydyr

    If the Oilers plan to trade yak, then they should play him with McDavid the rest of the way. I think they know enough to know McDavid and Eberle are a good fit, so they should be pumping his tires with the best tire pumper in the league.

    When Purcell is traded, Eberle can nice time with hall and Leon, and maybe help them out of their slump.

    It’s crazy to play yak on the fourth line if a trade is in the plans.

  • Positive Ray of Sunshine

    Dear Willis:

    The egg came first – by hundreds of millions of years. All chickens come from eggs but not all eggs turn into chickens.

    Gladiators were slaves and therefore not really professional athletes.