Lots of talk around town about Nail Yakupov. Some are worried he’ll stay in Russia and some wonder if he’ll make the team. The smart money says “don’t worry he’ll be in Canada soon” and “seriously? you’ve seen this movie before.”
Yakupov had a fine 22 games in the KHL, going 10-8-18 -4 with 33 pims. 76 shots on goal (3.45 per game) and 14 and a half minutes a game. He didn’t play in the game on January 6th and the next game is January 10th according to the KHL schedule. It sounds like some of the KHL NHLers (if you know what I mean) are still playing league games, which I think is fine as long as TC aren’t open here. If Nail Yakupov plays Thursday and gets to Edmonton in time for TC Sunday (which will probably be physicals) that’s fine, right?
The Oilers are no doubt in touch with Igor Larionov and until we hear otherwise I’d suggest this is much ado about nothing.
As for NHL readiness, I’m trying hard to understand why people would think Nail Yakupov is less NHL ready than Taylor Hall or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the months after they were drafted by the Oilers. This kid has already played in a very good pro league against men–something Hall and the Nuge didn’t do–and in fact scored 10 goals in 22 KHL games. Now, please understand I know there are good arguments against having these kids play year 1 in the NHL and burning a year of their entry level deals.
I know that many of the Oilogosphere’s best disagree with my view of when a prospect is ready (my view is covered here) and respect the opinion of those who believe the greater value is on the other end of the contract.
What I can’t agree with is what I’ve been hearing from some in Edmonton this week, from some of the fanbase I’m in touch with–that somehow Yakupov is less capable of climbing that mountain to the NHL as a teenager, less qualified than Nuge and Hall entering the show.
I would argue the opposite: Nail Yakupov’s KHL experience has to be counted heaviliy when assessing his NHL readiness. A pro league against men, and he’s performed well. What else is there to prove?