Darren Dreger used some pretty strong words last week in regard to Yak City, and the hits just keep coming today. This time, Hall of Fame writer Jim Matheson picked up his musket (well, Smith-Corona) and commenced to chopping down that wonderful tree from Nizhnekamsk.
THE MATHESON RAP!
- Do they work with him and take several steps back, consider him just a project like any other draft pick — not the first name called — and hope he finds some hockey sense to go with his hockey skill?
- Or do they seriously investigate trading a 20-year-old with 111 games on his NHL resume?
- Or do the Oilers suck it up with Yakupov and admit he’s nowhere near two other former first overall picks, John Tavares and Steve Stamkos, who had growing pains as rookies but got significantly better. In Stamkos’s case, way better in Year 2.
- Yakupov has a heckuva shot, he has a flare for the dramatic, he wants the puck, but will he ever get the requisite hockey savvy? I remember asking Scotty Bowman once what he looked for in a player: He liked skill, but he definitely had hockey sense and character high up in his priorities.
- Here’s the book on Yakupov: Blistering wrist shot, but not an easy player to play with. Quick, not really a give-and-go player; there’s not a lot of subtlety to his game.
NAIL YAKUPOV PLAYER CARD (EXTRA SKATER)
This is not a hopeless scenario. Yakupov’s boxcars are off, but look at the shooting percentage! 21% is a monster, and of course 9% is too harsh. If Yakupov was sitting at 15% shooting percentage, he would be on the verge of 20 goals (18) and Matty wouldn’t be worrying over him.
- 5×5/60 12-13: 2.20
- 5×5/60 13-14: 1.49
- 5×4/60 12-13: 4.20
- 5×4/60 13-14: 2.72
- Corsi On 12-13: -15.22
- Corsi On 13-14: -11.93
- Corsi Rel 12-13: -5.1
- Corsi Rel 13-14: +0.6
The BTN tells us he’s well off the pace offensively, a lot of at-bats this year are groundouts and nothing rhymes. There is some good news in the shot differential, but we know it’s a process and he’s miles from being a push player at evens.
We can say with authority that Nail Yakupov has not been quick to learn the NHL game as it pertains to play away from the puck, and that makes him not at all unusual among young forwards. He does not score well in a direct comparison to Hall or Nuge at the same age, but he also has some things those two do not possess in his arsenal. I worry about his agent, about his foot speed and about his aptitude. The Oilers may need to be a little extra patient with him.
There are worse things to observe in a prospect. Indifference, laziness, lollygagging. I would suggest time and time and time is needed, and patience and patience and patience is necessary.
I know this much: the Edmonton Oilers drafted Nail Yakupov. His future is in their hands. If the situation is as Matty presents, then trading Yakupov may be under consideration. History teaches that giving up on #1 overall picks 20 months after you drafted them means there has been an incredible fracture in the relationship and massively lowered expectations as a result.
I cannot believe we’ve arrived at that place today.