This evening, Jason Gregor broke the news that Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a trade that we all seemed to know was coming. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Peter Chiarelli sent former first overall, Nail Yakupov, to the St. Louis Blues for Zach Pochiro. We can (and will) argue about the trade return for weeks to come, but today I wanted to write a letter to say goodbye to the rascally Russian that started off with so much promise.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below



Dear Nail,

First off, I want to say that I’m sorry that things didn’t work out between us. Our relationship started off so well, but then really seemed to crash and burn in a hurry. After Dallas Eakins benched you in the first week of your second season, we all saw how much it affected you and your confidence never really seemed to recover. I watched you struggle to find your way, and I saw you lose the joy of playing the game that had always been there. I think you’d admit that a lot of what happened here (or didn’t happen here) is your fault, but that doesn’t mean that some of this mess isn’t on the Oilers too. 

I know you had a rough ride with Dallas Eakins — I think we all did. I imagine how frustrating it must have been, going from working for a positive guy like Ralph Kreuger to a drill sergeant with a flowing coif like Dallas. I bet there were times when you just wanted to order two desserts but the fun-police-mountain-bike-racer-coach guy would look down on you, and lecture you,“I picked some fresh cattail. The roots are perfectly edible. Enjoy.” (I bet I’m close, right?) I’d bet that the only times you were able to sneak in a brownie was when you were at home, or while he was keeping busy with useless shit like getting rid of the ping-pong table and talking about chopping wood. I bet that whole year and a half was tough. Your play suffered, the team suffered, and the downward spiral started to get out of control.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I’ve been told by people that have met you that you really are a great person, and that’s what makes this even tougher. I desperately wanted you to succeed here, and that never changed. I remember doing fist pumps on the day you were drafted; I remember laughing hysterically as you slid down the ice on your knees after the tying goal against LA; I remember finding out about how you paid for a homeless man to have a meal and a place to stay, and the only reason the story got out is because someone saw you do it. If the character of a human could be translated into NHL success you would already be up there with the greats. I truly believe that.

Over the last four years we had a few good times, but I don’t think there’s anyone that would say they’re truly satisfied with how things ended up. We both wanted you to be the guy that would score that big goal, but it didn’t happen often enough. I know how badly you wanted to be the sniper that would be the deadly weapon to put the Oilers back into the post season, but, I guess, it wasn’t meant to be. I think you know that you needed to play better, and I hope that this trade will help you figure out whatever it takes to get you playing to your potential. I hope that you go to St. Louis with an open mind, and that your new coach is willing to give you the fresh start and the rope that you need get your career back on track. 

I look back on the day you slipped the Oilers jersey over your head for the first time and wonder how things could have gone so wrong. Regardless of what happened, today is a sad day and it’s tough to see you go. I’ll do my best to remember the good times we shared rather than the tailspin you couldn’t quite pull yourself out of. That said, I wish you best and hope that this new opportunity in St. Louis is exactly what you need to kickstart the career you have always dreamed of having. Whatever happens, I’ll be watching and cheering for you. All the best.

Your friend,



In return, the Oilers receive ECHL prospect Zach Pochiro and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2017. If Nail Yakupov can score 15 goals or more for St. Louis this year the 3rd round pick will turn into a 2nd rounder. Needless to say, I don’t think anyone can be overly satisfied by how the Yakupov era has turned out for the Oilers, and that includes the return. Getting an ECHL player and a conditional pick for a former first overall pick seems like trading in a Mercedes for a 1989 Ford Tercel, but that’s where we’re at today.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Here’s a taste of the reaction from Twitter:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It looks like the Oilers have also signed Kris Russell according to Elliotte Friedman


Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2012-13 Edmonton Oilers NHL 48 17 14 31 24 -4
2013-14 Edmonton Oilers NHL 63 11 13 24 36 -33
2014-15 Edmonton Oilers NHL 81 14 19 33 18 -35
2015-16 Edmonton Oilers NHL 60 8 15 23 24 -16
NHL Totals 252 50 61 111 102

  • callinthe cobra

    people were whining about getting rid of the losing culture. well hes doing it, now just to see if it works. Only eberle and rnh left. If things dont turn around they will be gone by the end of the year

  • That's My Point

    Now Oilers just need to get rid of Eberle.

    Come on media and fans; you can do it.

    He’s too soft, can’t back check etc etc………..

    Every year gotta ride someone outta town.

    Schultz, Magnus, Yak… it should be Eberle.

  • CMG30

    And so another chapter comes to a close.

    Trading Nail for a bag of pucks stings because he represents the sacrifice for an entire season of futility…

    But he never really fit into whatever it was the Oilers were trying to do. (One suspect’s even the Oil didn’t know what they were trying to do) He had a passion for the game that was infectious but was never able to translate it into becoming an effective NHL player. Half that’s on the team for never playing him to his strengths, only his weaknesses. The other half is on the player for seemingly being unable to learn the consistency and responsibility that players need to have to be in the NHL.

    Best of luck Nail! By all accounts you were a decent fellow, I’ll be cheering for you wherever you go!

  • DannyGallivan

    We gave him 4 yrs and it did not work. Where you were drafted is irrelevant when you get 4 yrs of actual NHL experience. The time was right to move on. Chia tried a number of options and that was the best he could get.

    I wish him only the best.

  • Amac97

    If I’m looking to hire someone with professional experience (say 4 years perhaps), then I care about their professional experience; not that they were honor students in high school.
    People need to get over that Yak was a first overall pick. His value is based on his last 4 years in the NHL. Yes it sucks that he has been such a bust, but it is time for everyone involved to move on. I think the Oilers will be better for it.