Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will lead Team Canada into WJ action this Christmas, having played in a men’s league (AHL) as prep. Nail Yakupov has also been facing top flight competition in the KHL, and flourishing. If the Russian outperforms the Burnaby kid, should we be surprised?

RNH is 19, 8-12-20 +7 in OKC, with plenty of pretty PP passes included in the boxcars. Yakupov has slowed after a blistering KHL start and stands at 22, 10-8-18 -4. Both are solid seasons at the quarter pole (or so), but if we absolutely had to choose between the two seasons–which one would you choose? Before you decide, lets talk about NHL equivalencies. Ordinarily, I’d use the tried and true Gabe Desjardins’ model from 2004–because it tracked things over a number of years and I think gave us a good idea about range of expectation.

However, the AHL and KHL are much different leagues this season. So, for that reason I’m using .55 for the AHL and .65 for the KHL as my guidelines. NOTE: Please feel free to add input and advice in this regard, I’m sincere in saying I have no attachment to any governor beyond attempting to get a fair number.

  • Nuge NHLE 82, 19-28-47
  • Yakupov NHLE 82, 24-20-44

Pretty close, and no matter the numbers we use I think it is worth considering that Yakupov’s offense may equal or surpass the Nuge’s based on the current season.  I’ve seen enough of the AHL to know it’s a terrific league in 2012-13, but would guess that the KHL is a tougher league based on quality and age.

So, how close is Nail to the Nuge in terms of expected offense? During the RE series last summer I suggested there was a significant gap, but that was based on opportunity and the possibility Yakupov would be playing limited minutes (especially early on).

Now? I’m not so sure. That’s an exceptional season Yakupov is crafting in the Russian winter.

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12 Responses to "NAIL V NUGE AT WJ’S"

  1. Dipstick says:

    Has Nail already left his KHL team to train with the Russian team?

  2. Lowetide says:

    I believe so

    although we’ll find out tomorrow when Neftekhimik is back in action.

  3. Melman says:

    I’m sure it came up (i likely missed it), but it seems to me prior to this past weekend, OKC’s big slide came right after RNH left town. Yes they should be good anyways, but the impact was pretty significant.

  4. hunter1909 says:

    I don’t know how else to say this: players like Yakupov seem to be born around every twenty years(Kharlamov/Bure as comparisons). No one teaches them anything, unless they want to learn what they’re being pitched.

    Hopefully MacT can work on him. MacT worked wonders with Rob Schremp.

  5. jp says:

    Agreed the offense from Nail and RNH this year has been very close. Aside from what you’ve already mentioned, I think it’s fair to say that RNH has probably also benefited from higher quality linemates (Eberle/Hall/Hartikainen almost exclusively). Likely more TOI and PP push as well. In that light the younger Yakupov may well be clearly outperforming RNH. This is not a bad thing!

  6. JohnnyRocket says:

    I think we’re looking at two different creatures here. I think Yak is an opportunistic sniper and the Nuge is a playmaker, conceding that both have unheralded skills in both areas.

    I’m not sure that the conversation on which kid will score more is relevant. We have so much firepower that time on ice is gong to be a factor (think of the minutes Hossa and Sharp got on Chicago’s run to the Cup).

    I also think that the chemistry between players will affect scoring levels. We can’t know lines or pairings. Will Nuge and Yak develop a St. Louis-Stamkos-like chemistry? Will Yak and Hall form an unholy wrecking ball of duo that plays power vs. power allowing Eberle easier to rack up points.

    Goodness, it will be fun to watch.

  7. Oilanderp says:

    Yak has an unfair advantage: they play 80s NHL defence in the KHL.*


  8. DeadmanWaking says:

    Another way to look at this. If Brian Boucher snaps awake from his Butch Coolidge pregame nap with his frontal lobes throbbing with gamma waves, who do you want out there in 1OT to sift one through the mission-impossible corner pocket?

    Yakupov bearing down mano-a-mano with the laser release? Or Nugent with the pinball wizard cross-crease pass through a forest of sticks?

    I think if we’re in a series against a goalie with the agility of a cat, you want Yak out there to wire his smoke grenades. If the goalie has a red hot glove hand, you want Nugent out there with the six option touch-pass to make him dance like a spastic puppet (any goalie with a red hot spastic-puppet glove hand is headed for the Conn Smythe).

    Horses for courses. Forks for crustaceans.

    A guy like Nugent can make the other team zebra-shy 5 on 5. If Yakupov turns into Pavel Bure on the PK, he might keep the other team’s PP pointman sober and respectful and reluctant to drive in from the perimeter.

    If you’ve got five guys who each bring something completely different, so that the other coach is worried five different ways, eventually something must give.

    Sergey Karjakin: “Dreams come true!”

    This interview is fascinating because the interviewer (Evgeny Atarov) unabashedly grinds Karjakin for having everything it takes except for the killer instinct of a born champion. Karjakin pushes back and won’t bite with enviable backbone. I really enjoyed the dynamic of Karjakin ruthlessly slamming the door on one assertion after another that he lacks the killer instinct. Watch him size up another prodigy, but one who came to the game late rather than lacing up his first pair of skates as three year old:

    Е.А.: In your view is Caruana a kind of computer in the flesh?

    S.K.: I think the computer has a very strong influence on his play, but it influences it in a good sense. Caruana very often plays according to the first line, and in a game he can do that for 10-15 moves in a row. That’s very unpleasant for opponents.

    Е.А.: What emotions do you experience when you look at games like Caruana – Kramnik in Dortmund, when the Italian began to produce his “computer series” out of nothing, and his opponent simply couldn’t withstand that accuracy?

    S.K.: Yes, that game made a strange impression. White didn’t get anything out of the opening, after which Caruana simply tried to maintain the tension, Kramnik made a couple of mistakes and that ultimately led to the Italian’s victory. In actual fact the ability to maintain the tension in a complex position is a sign of great mastery. If he can do something like that against Kramnik then it means playing Caruana won’t be so straightforward.

    Yakupov is likely to mature into a world class pressure point. Nugent is already there setting up off the half-wall. I get more excited about the sum than the difference.

  9. Truth says:

    According to Corey Pronman’s twitter Zharkov has made the Russian WJC team. So it will be Nuge vs Yak and Zharkov, although I think we all know who will be making the bigger impact for the Russians. Good to see him make the team, plus another guy to keep an eye on.

  10. Truth says:


    Hopefully MacTcan work on him. MacT worked wonders with Rob Schremp.

    I would hope Yak would be offended by this. Schremp is not an NHL player, Yak was consensus 1st overall. I am a little bit concerned Yakupov is more of the Ovechkin type. “Me, me, me,” as Grapes would argue. But if he turns out to match Ovechkin in skill I really don’t care.

  11. billium83 says:

    Still so happy we took Nail over Murray. The kid is great, producing a ton of offense in a tough league, and he’s still super young. I know we already have a few guys like this on the team, but so what. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. Having talent like this to build with secondary and ancillary players is way better then having a team of third liners, trying desperately to overpay for a high profile free agent to come here and save the team. Those secondary guys are way easier to get, and will want to come here and play when they see the talented core they get to be on a line with.

    In this contest I would give the edge to Nail, but only because the talent on his team doesn’t seem to be as stacked as Nuge’s. Yak has had some huge games where he stepped up big time to face some big names like Kovalev. He’s dropped off a little lately, but I still can’t wait till all the talent comes together on the big club. Kruger is going to have a tough time finding the best combinations with all the talent. Mostly I can’t wait to see Hall and Nail on the same line, doing the exact same thing: being dangerous as all hell.

  12. Rocknrolla says:

    Take a look at this graph.

    The WJC all stars….some pretty good company here.

    Also pretty cool that we have 4 captains of their teams

    I think the oil will put up 2 more here this year, could have been 3 with Klefbom. But either way you slice it, we have some of the best young talent in the world all on one team. Another signal we are on the right track folks…

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