In the world of instant analysis, Nail Yakupov’s slot in the batting order of the Oiler cluster won’t be known for a year or two. We can guess though, and my bet is it’ll be high up in the order.
Fancy stats tell us Taylor Hall is 20 and driving the bus a little in the best league on the planet. The Nuge is a powerplay witch (source: Tyler Dellow) and Jordan Eberle is some kind of wonderful with his release and picking corners.
If Yakupov can play LW that might open up all kinds of opportunities, including moving Taylor Hall to center. Using the Ralph Krueger ‘pairing chart’ we talked about the other day (while adding Horcoff-Smyth for the tough minutes/zone start line) we get something like this:
I have the ‘pairs’ in slots one and two, with Hall and the others sliding along as needed. Hall could be used on a line with Gagner-Hemsky and face tough opponents with good zone starts, or he could join the Nuge and Ebs for a big time skill line.
The 4 wingers that include Jones, Eager, Hartikainen and Paajarvi are at this point outside the top 9 with one exception–my guess is that Jones owns the spot currently and will entering training camp.
Edmonton has too many forwards. Nail Yakupov’s signing makes the coaching decisions easier and more inviting, but the job of culling the herd remains to be done.