Well, THAT was something. Nail Yakupov–the guy who wasn’t a clear cut #1 overall–certainly thrilled mass audiences with his hockey. Imagine watching this guy for the next 20 years. Amazing.
NAIL YAKUPOV 12-13
5×5 points per 60: 2.20 (3rd among regular forwards)
5×4 points per 60: 4.20 (5th among regular forwards)
Qual Comp: 7th toughest among regular forwards (second-third line opp)
Qual Team: 7th best teammates among regular forwards
Corsi Rel: -5.1(11th best among regular forwards, -15.22 CorsiON)
Zone Start: 51.1% (6th easiest among regular forwards)
Zone Finish: 51.0% (6th best among regular forwards)
Shots on goal/percentage: 81/20.99% (1st among F’s>70 shots)
Boxcars: 48, 17-14-31
Plus Minus: -4 on a team that was -15
- What do these numbers tell us? Terrific young player who was impressive at 5×5 scoring. That shooting percentage is on top of a big mountain and he’s going to come down quite a distance next season and his PDO will correct too (unless someone can prove PDO can be repeated). Man, what a hockey player.
- Why was there any doubt about his going #1? I think teams are leery of Russians, mostly because of the KHL but also a general belief that he was less developed as a player than Hall or Nugent-Hopkins.
- Is that true? He’s a rover, no doubt. Highly creative winger with tremendous skill and a Russian cannon.
- How close was he to your RE? We’ll do the top 6F here in a couple of days, but I had him 45, 11-15-26 so he passed that by a little bit.
- You like him? Love him. LOVE him. All skill and neurons and and an itchy trigger finger. Plus he has swagger! Yakupov can’t help himself, he’s like Elvis in 1956–they’re only allowed to shoot him from the waist up!
- What were the questions about him before the season started? In the summer RE, I wrote: “How fast IS he? Can he blow by defenders like Hall? How strong is he on the puck? Is that shot for real? I expect the answers to be yes all down the line but hockey is a game of degree. How many feet faster is Hall than Yakupov? Or is it vice versa?”
- What are the answers? Well, his shot is all world, it’s terrifying. He’s fast enough, although Hall has the edge in straightaway speed. Very strong on the puck, and more physical than we were led to believe. He’s kind of a Coke Machine at 5.11, 190, and as he matures it’ll be interesting to see how much he can impact the game in that area. Not that it should every be a priority, but separating player from puck should be a skill he’ll conquer.
- Can he be better than Hall or Nuge? Based on his first season, yes. A lot of chatter about Yakupov’s play away from the puck, but coach Krueger mentioned early in the year that they were letting him run and working on the finer details as time went along. He’s got work to do, but Hall was drafted two years earlier, was a more finished product and HE’S got work to do as well. These are all still just kids.
- Did he show progress? Oh hell yes. Coach Krueger in early April: “There are a few things that happen if we go back 11 games and one of them was definitely Nail growing up in such a quick period of time. He’s very responsible without the puck, you can see him making strong decisions, he was the first forward back on multiple occasions (Monday). He plays physical, takes multiple responsibilities defensively. He’s been getting smarter with the puck and more patient. He’s understanding the difference between simple plays versus opportunity and that’s all showing up. We’re excited for a kid that age, what he’s done here in these two and a half months, it certainly shows us that we have an exciting future with Nail.”
- Who did he play well with? The ‘close-zone adjusted 5×5′ graph says Gagner and Hemsky, but I talked with Tyler Dellow yesterday and we kind of threw around the idea that he might be better off with a more defensive center (kind of a Horcoff to Yakupov’s Hemsky).
- Why didn’t Krueger play him more? At even strength, Yakupovs’ 12 minutes trails 6 other forwards and Hall’s total by 3 minutes. I think both should be playing more at evens. Yakupov’s 2:28 on the PP is reasonable although I suspect he gets a push there next season.
- He didn’t even get a look at the Calder. My understanding is that the writers have to send in their ballots early to beat the deadline, so Yakupov’s final run (6-0-6 +6 in his final three games) probably never happened on the ballot. Crazy but true, I think they should change that rule, even if it means the first week of the playoffs rolls by without the ballots getting time stamped.
The Lowdown with Lowetide hits the airwaves at 10 this morning on Team 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Michael Parkatti from Boys on the Bus. We’ll talk Hall’s snub, Yak’s snub, PDO and the Oilers this summer.
- David Staples from the Cult of Hockey and the Edmonton Journal. We’ll talk arena, Oilers and MacT.
- Chris O’Leary from the Edmonton Journal. We’ll talk Eskimos, CFL draft and Oil Kings.
- Oliver Gabriel from the Springfield Falcons. Former Portland Winterhawk will give us insight into the current team.
Questions and comments welcome, Lowetide_ on twitter or text 101260. Hope you can tune in!