As we look forward to a summer of activity by the Edmonton Oilers, I think one of the key areas might be communication. Nail Yakupov was a rookie two years ago, Dallas Eakins went through the experience this year. Maybe they’ll never click, maybe Yakupov will score 30 goals a year in another NHL city. I keep coming back to Eakins being a bright guy, and understanding that people with Yak’s God-given skills don’t come along every day.
It seems to me a smart coach would understand what he has, make allowances for the shortfalls of the kid, and put him in a position to succeed. That’s always the way of successful teams, isn’t it obvious? Unless there’s something I’m missing, this Oilers team should spend part of the offseason:
- formulating ways to feature Yakupov more on the power play
- finding him a center who is suitable, like Horcoff was for Hall and Eberle when they were kids
- understanding his limitations without the puck are because of inexperience and not being familiar, as opposed to laziness or a stubborn way.
The deeper I get into this spring, the more I wonder about Dallas Eakins and Nail Yakupov. They may never be tight, but they sure as hell need each other. I think the coach needs to find a way to make Nail Yakupov a bigger part of the team.
Even with his imperfections. Dallas Eakins’ career in Edmonton may depend on it.