The game Friday night was soup for the soul. Nail Yakupov scoring a dynamite goal, Anton Lander delivering a pass that required terrific skill, Oscar Klefbom as last man standing at the doorstep (kind of like John Wayne in The Searchers) and every last one of them a possible arrow for the future. If the Oilers simply added those three to their already impressive young arsenal of NHL players? Music! We could talk about the team over summer as having three C options (Nuge, Lander, Gordon) and two scoring wingers (Hall, Eberle, Yakupov) and two actual NHL defensemen (Fayne, Klefbom). It’s not perfect but it’s a helluva lot better with than without. Right?
I was thinking about this yesterday while speaking to Bruce McCurdy on SSE. One way the Edmonton Oilers could instantly send a message to the fan base and absolutely give us confidence in the forensic movement? Sign Jeff Petry. Seriously. Signing Petry indicates the Oilers have their heads on straight, that the Perron deal wasn’t a dive into another rebuild but rather an effort to tweak the club and move more assets to the middle of the ice.
IF the Oilers sign Jeff Petry AND the three men above become regulars who can be counted on, the number of drafted Oilers who will be making a difference jumps markedly in a heartbeat:
- Defense: Jeff Petry, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse
- Center: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Anton Lander, Leon Draisaitl
- Left Wing: Taylor Hall
- Right Wing: Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov
The number jumps from 5 to 9, from 22% to 39% of the roster. It also reduces the number of ‘unproven rookie’ slots to just two (Nurse and Leon) pending the first-round selection.
QUICK HITS (HEY, YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR)
- Taylor Hall: “It’s so fun to win and it does make you forget about what place you are in the standings for a couple of days. For us, we need that. We need to be a relaxed group.”Source
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will represent Edmonton at the All-Star Game.
SAVING NAIL A BIG DAMN DEAL!
If the only thing Todd Nelson does is unlock Nail Yakupov between now and the end of the season, we should consider that to be Everest. More important than winning the lottery is getting the in-house talent driving on all eight pistons and the biggest problem is the young Russian. Let him loose and find him a comfort zone and this team will have two scoring lines.
One of the stories that has become part of the accepted verbal is that Nail has struggled all three seasons. He certainly did have some tough moments all three years but this one really did look like a ‘modern Patrik Stefan’ story waited at the end.
YAKUPOV PLAYER CARD
Yakupov’s shots on goal total is identical to a year ago but he’s off by one-half a point per 60 at evens and his shooting percentage is horrible. You can say ‘it’ll turn around’ but I submit to you a veteran NHL center like Derek Roy is vital and confidence is key with this young man. This comes down to communication, and Nelson seems to be helping the young man substantially.
Am I making things up to fit the inevitable improvement of shooting percentage? Or has the change in the weather combined with an actual NHL center returned the smile to Nail Yakupov?