It’s a familiar story, a player’s junior number is not available with their NHL team. What is a kid to do? Of course, he picks something different. For Nail Yakupov his familiar number 10 from the Sarnia Sting is currently in use by Shawn Horcoff, who is also the team captain. And so, according to reports from the Perry Pearn’s 3 on 3 tournament where Yakupov is currently representing the Oilers along with Ladislav Smid, Darcy Hordichuk and Tyler Fedun, we learn that Yakupov will be sporting the number 64. If you can’t remember the last time an Oiler wore 64 you’re forgiven, but most Oiler fans do remember one particular player who did.
The question has been on everyone’s minds for years; are Nail Yakupov and other high profile Russian born players a flight risk? Repeatedly Yakupov has answered no. But as circumstances around the NHL have changed, the question has continued to pop up. Still, Yakupov has said nothing other than “I want to play in the NHL.”
Well, one RFA that is. With the contract extensions signed for defenceman Alex Plante and centreman Chris VandeVelde Thursday morning, the Oilers only have the much talked about Linus Omark left to sign. Or move. But the suggestion that this team may be done making moves couldn’t possibly be an accurate reflection of the state of the team. Whether or not moves actually come through however, will be what remains to be seen.
The wait was worth it. The deal is done. And the 2012 first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov has signed his entry level deal with the Edmonton Oilers. The deal is of course, completely as expected, the standard 3 year entry level deal with this year’s maximum allowable salary ($925,000) and bonuses (performance $2,850,000 and signing $92,500) all adding up to a cap hit of $3,775,000. And while Yakupov is now the third first overall pick signed by the Oilers in as many years, he is the one most likely to hit his targets and earn his bonuses, simply because he has a better team around him than poor Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
I may be the only person thinking this, but the Oilers re-signing centreman Sam Gagner may have been one of the bigger “meh” moves of the summer. Yes, Gagner has played 366 NHL games and is only 23 (in August). Yes, Gagner also had an 8 point night last season. But what of his not just cold, but ice cold 20 plus game streak?
Daniil Zharkov may have been drafted last in the third round, but he has the confidence of a first rounder. And not just any first rounder, Zharkov is friends with Nail Yakupov and is going to make it his goal in life to be better than his new rival. Oh, and he also has a great sense of humour. Even if he doesn’t make the team for another few years, he may be a new fan favourite.
It may not sound like a top tourist destination, but Columbus Ohio was calling my name this spring. The Edmonton Oilers were playing an afternoon game Sunday March 26th in the Nationwide Arena, and although a battle for the basement may not sound entirely enticing, perhaps that old saying that misery loves company held true. None the less, like all of the arenas I have seen so far in my travels, Nationwide holds its charms and so do the people.
The NHL does not have a lot of racial diversity, but that is something that is slowly changing. With their first 3rd round pick the Edmonton Oilers selected Jujkar Khaira, an East Indian playing in the BCJHL. And while it may not have seemed like a big deal to Khaira, it did to the many South Asians who play hockey in Edmonton. As reported by Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun, Khaira’s was the second most requested autograph at the Oilers’ development camp after Nail Yakupov. But it wasn’t Khaira’s heritage that has got him to this point, but rather his hockey skills.
“We done good” the Oilers’ second round pick Mitch Moroz said of his Oil Kings team at this year’s NHL entry draft. Three of the top 32 players selected were from the WHL champion Oil Kings team, and Griffin Reinhart being picked at #4 set a new team record.
But as happy as Moroz can be for his teammates, he was at a loss for words to describe his delight at being selected 32nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers.
There are several benefits for writing for someone like Paul. The biggest has to be that since we write online and not for a newspaper with their 9pm and 11pm deadlines we can share news, even old news, and opinions when it works for us.
And so even though the draft was a couple of weeks ago I can still at this point write up something on the players that the Oilers took. This is especially helpful since I am on vacation but I know that the dog days are summer can seem especially long and hockeyless. The Oilers may have selected these players in late June, but they are no less exciting, interesting or Oilers by mid July. I hope that you are enjoying your summer and that you might get some enjoyment from the odd articles that will be popping up in the next two weeks.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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