Dallas Eakins announced this morning that Roman Horak will draw in to the lineup against Phoenix Tuesday night, and that Nail Yakupov will sit. Let’s take these one at a time.
Nail Yakupov is going to be a great NHL player. I’ll bet you a 2-4 (one person only) he eventually scores 40 goals in a season. The kid loves to score goals, he owns a dynamite shot and he’s going to figure out the ‘less is more’ method sooner than later (he doesn’t have to stickhandle through the world, just pass the puck tape to tape and he can do that all day) and I’m pretty certain Craig MacTavish and Dallas Eakins aren’t going to fail him.
There are two problems as I see it:
- The Oilers aren’t using him properly
- Nail either isn’t learning his lessons or refuses to apply them
So, what we have here is a failure to communicate. A public one, so that makes people uncomfortable but that’s all it is. The Oilers and their youth have been having these spats forever—Paul Coffey and Glen Sather never spoke the same language even though it was English—and it may or may not work out. The problem (explained beautifully by the coach) is the Oilers are at a point that they’re going to have to sit effective players to keep Yakupov in the lineup.
And they can’t afford to bleed anymore.
So, we’re here. Nail has promised to stop trying to stickhandle through the world and Dallas Eakins has promised to give him power-play time when he shows he can do what’s been asked of him. You may feel that’s unfair, but 30 years ago Nail would be at the terminal gates reading about Oklahoma’s Welcome Wagon. It’s about what it’s always been about: Survival. Dallas Eakins and Nail Yakupov need each other, and today had to happen sooner or later.
It’s part of learning, for both of them.
I liked Horak in Calgary and do think he might be a “two-way winger” option for the Oilers. He’s young enough to have a career, and if he gets a chance to play with real skill then maybe he can throw in enough offense to hang with the gunners. That’s not the role I see him in, but starting there is fine.
For me, this is a “possible Pisani” on the way to the “Peca-Pisani” the Oilers need so badly. Eventually, I’d love to see him 3line with Gordon-Hemsky and it’s very important to get that role filled sometime before the end of the century. Surely we all remember the importance of a Pisani, and recent candidates (Petrell most recently) have been found wanting.
I don’t know that Roman Horak can fill that role, but his resume suggests he’s a candidate of some note. That’s more than Tambellini managed, and here’s hoping it works.
(Horak photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)