The Edmonton Oilers lost in St. Louis last night, but the big news came during the intermission of the TSN broadcast. Darren Dreger spent at least a minute telling a national audience about the Oilers and Yakupov.
- Dreger: “I would say it’s unlikely that he’s an Edmonton Oiler next season. So it makes sense that they’ll try and move him. They were trying to move him at various points this season. Word is out that Nail Yakupov is available. The problem is, no one really wants him. Certainly not for the value that the Edmonton Oilers are going to need to get back in return. And you can see why. He had opportunities in this game early on. He scored one goal in his last 11 games. He was on the ice late in the game when the Blues scored to tie the hockey game. He’s an NHL worst -30. He lacks commitment. He thinks that skill is enough to be an NHL player. And the unfortunate reality for Nail Yakupov is that, yes, he’s a skilled player, but not an elite level skill player. And until he finds a way to absorb the message, the market on Nail Yakupov isn’t going to be great. They might have to package him with a collection of assets to get something better in return.”
My thanks to David Staples for transcribing. Amazing. There’s a lot in that paragraph that sounds like fact, but also a generous helping of “I would say” and “word is out” in there. I do wonder if Dave Nonis is perhaps using his position as Leafs GM/Dreger confidant as a bully pulpit. We’ll never know, and I’m not making an accusation, but there’s some fairly specific things in there. Who knows, maybe the Oilers are fine with this kind of public flogging of their number one overall picks. How would I know? I’m just a fan. I would say there’s enough in that piece to openly wonder about the origins of this verbal, and word is out that insider information now involves very specific information on players. I have noticed this with Kadri and now Yakupov. Very interesting, indeed.
That’s Nick Libett (Red Wings) and Murray Wilson (Habs) 1970s. At that time, Detroit was a poor team, the lowest of the original six. The team had gotten old and then Ned Harkness killed everything else. Libett was Detroit’s best player for several years. Libett played for Detroit during a time no one was paying attention, so you’ve got to look long and hard to find anyone who remembers him. He was a good player, though. The one season they gave Libett a reasonable center (Marcel Dionne) he scored 31 goals.
The Red Wings have been a very good team for a long time. From 1970 through 1983, they made the playoffs only once. Since then, they’ve missed the playoffs twice and won 4 Stanleys. The golden era of Detroit hockey was 1950 to 1955, when the Red Wings won 4 Stanleys. Due to the increased number of teams and the difficulty of winning in the modern era, I believe the Red Wings of today represent the very best in franchise history.
Except. Except, today is not going well. We’ll see an injury-plagued Red Wing team tonight scratching for a playoff spot.
YOUTH IS WASTED ON ALL THE WRONG PEOPLE
I think we need to have a conversation about prospects and young players. Sometimes we all need a reminder about one true thing: young hockey players do not develop in a straight line. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is 20—TWENTY!—and he is currently on a line that does not contain Taylor Hall. Remember when we talked about Taylor Hall pushing the river? Well, Nuge and Eberle aren’t the players Hall is, we know this. It’s also true that RNH is 17 months younger than Hall. That’s a large item, ladies. And he plays a difficult position and is penalty killing along with his other chores.
You can choose to panic and write comments about Nuge going backwards as a player if you wish, this is a blog built for expression. However, I think it’s time for me to list a few home truths about the current Oilers.
- RNH is 20 and playing the best opposition on the planet. How many 20-year old centermen in the NHL face the same opposition?
- Jordan Eberle has never been a physical player. Instead of focusing on things he can’t do, it’s probably a better idea to enjoy the things he can do—like score goals. That’s a pretty difficult thing to do. And don’t tell me I’m ignoring the Eberle issues—I said many times that trading Hemsky is a bad idea because there’s no coverage now, and this is what we’re seeing.
- Taylor Hall is a wonderful player whose possession stats are out of whack with his career trajectory. The Oilers need to fix that—Tyler Dellow has been doing a wonderful job finding some answers there—but this player is absolutely golden.
- Martin Marincin looks like a million bucks early. A year from now, he may not look as good because young players don’t develop in a straight line. It’s important to remember how well he’s playing now. If he can do that consistently, the Oilers have one of their top 4D for the next decade.
- Oscar Klefbom is showing some very nice things. In both games he made some really good plays, knocking down pucks in the neutral zone, making deft passes and winning some battles with smarts. This is a nice player.
- Nail Yakupov is just a kid, folks. I think it is very easy to see ‘lack of commitment’ when the truth is ‘confusion’ about role and place. I encourage patience in regard to this player.
Anyway, I don’t want to sound like some grumpy old guy, but these are really fine young hockey players. I’ve seen Oiler fans turn on players, and expect Sam Gagner is the next one. It’s a damn shame, really. Somehow the clock in our brain only makes allowances for injuries for a limited time, and then we expect things to go back to normal. In Gagner’s case, the injury was so severe we have not seen that, and of course he is a flawed player. I’m hopeful Oiler fans don’t turn on the Nuge one day, but sadly our track record is very poor.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Friday! Lots of fun on today’s show, 10 this morning on TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, Big Mouth Sports.We’ll talk NHL GM meetings, Canada’s NHL teams playing poorly, changes at HNIC.
- Paul Almeida, Saturday Sports Extra. We’ll tee up the new show, which is into week four already tomorrow.
- Mark Spizzirri, Puckrant. The Red Wings are banged up and trying to get into the playoffs. We’ll get an update from Mark.
- Corey Graham, Oil Kings pbp. OK end the season with btb’s against Red Deer and another 50-win season is on the line. A great run.
- Michael Parkatti, Boys on the Bus. We’ll discuss last night’s game and I’ll ask Michael about the wisdom of trading Yakupov now.
- FC Edmonton, gearing up for their season with new players and a brand new kit.
- Jungle Jim Hunter, Paralympics—Russian dominance and disappointment in sledge hockey.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter and it’s going to be a blast!
A POINT OF INTEREST
There will be a free public lecture on hockey analytics at the University of Alberta on Wednesday March 26th at noon. The event will be hosted by the Communication & Technology Graduate Program at the downtown campus in Edmonton. The main objectives of the session are to introduce the key concepts of hockey analytics and some of the current methods to measure player and team performance. This session will also examine how the field of hockey analytics has grown and the role fans have played in its development. I’ll be speaking at the event to share my research as a student at the U of A. I’ll be joined by Michael Parkatti who will provide his insight and experience.
Further details about the event can be found here: Please share with anyone that you think might be interested. The event will also be available via Livestream.