The Nail Yakupov story isn’t exactly the Bourne Supremacy but it does give us something to talk about these days. Some of the things being said about Nail and the paperwork are unfai, and some are just flat out wrong.
In and article called “Money and Paperwork” Damien Cox gives his views on the Yakupov situation. I’m going to quote the item that was an issue for me and then we’ll discuss:
- He was a top-notch player last year in the CHL, but hardly the best player in Canada, nothing even close to what, say, Taylor Hall was with Windsor in his draft year. Particularly from a team standpoint, Yakupov left people wanting more, and another season of being a dominant player in Sarnia or some other OHL outpost wouldn’t necessarily be bad for him.
I think we can agree that Taylor Hall played on a superior team, and that “team standpoint” has a lot to do with the quality of the team. Sarnia’s club doesn’t compare to Windsor’s team in Hall’s two junior seasons, and that would seem to be a fairly easy thing to prove (so I won’t pursue further).
The item about “hardly the best player in Canada” and the Taylor Hall mention is interesting because it is likely a popular opinion. Is it true?
The first thing we have to do is talk about the knee injury. Yakupov performed like a house on fire before, not so much after:
- Before: 26, 21-32-53 2.04ppg
- After: 16, 10-6-16 1.00ppg
We know he’s healthy, the long term future is bright but in this single snapshot we have a player who did not come back at the same level of ability. Fair?
DESJARDINS NHLE (per 82gp)
- Taylor Hall 17-29-46
- Nail Yakupov 18-22-40
The healthy Nail described above would have had a slightly better NHLE, and overall he’s shy of Taylor Hall in his draft season.
- Taylor Hall EV 57, 22-33-55 (.965)
- Nail Yakupov EV 42, 18-22-40 (.953)
Nail Yakupov’s Sting scored 2.34 EV goals per game (159/68) and Hall’s Spitfires 3.30 EV goals per game (225/68).Since their scoring numbers are similar and Hall’s Windsor club is wildly superior at evens (a goal a game better, lordy) I would say Yakupov’s totals are superior. They were both in on about 25% of their teams even strength goals, but that doesn’t account for Nail’s 42 gp compared to Hall’s 57.
Yakupov may never perform at a superior level in any discipline from this day forth, but allowing for the fact that we don’t have TOI I would suggest the young Russian was the superior EV offensive player in their respective draft years. By enough that we can see it.
- Taylor Hall PP 57, 14-32-46 (.807)
- Nail Yakupov PP 42, 12-16-28 (.667)
Hall has the clear edge here, both in boxcars and points-per game. Hall’s Spitfires were once again better in this area (95 goals in 68 games) and Yakpuov’s Sting (77 goals in 68 games) couldn’t match the firepower. They were in on about the same percentage of team goals when you factor in games missed.
Hall gets the edge on the powerplay. I don’t know that it is as wide a gap as the numbers suggest placed side by side. That Windsor team had far more firepower, and it should and did show up with the man advantage.
- Taylor Hall PK 57, 4-1-5 (.087)
- Nail Yakupov PK 42, 1-0-1 (.024)
Hall’s Spitfies scored 11, Nail’s Sting 7. I don’t know what to say except Hall should be on the Oilers PK.
These are both really good players. I think when you factor in quality of team there’s a case to be made that Yakupov was a better junior scorer. Certainly before the injury. I don”t know that Yakupov can push back defenders like Hall and we’ll have to see about who he finds chem with, but this young man is another elite level talent based on the numbers.
The only legit argument for Yakupov belonging back in junior comes if you believe his performance after the injury was a reflection of his ability as opposed to a reflection of his health at the time. I don’t subscribe to that theory.
Damien Cox suggested Nail was “not close” to Taylor Hall in his draft year. I would argue Yakupov was superior before the injury–despite playing on an inferior team–and just shy overall. Factoring in his 16-year old season, putting Yakupov back in Sarnia would benefit Sarnia ownership and little else.
I don’t see a hockey reason to send him back.