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The Puck Stops Here

Nail Yakupov’s Progress

One story this season is disappointment regarding the progress of 2012 first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov.  He was the top scoring rookie in the lockout shortened 2013 season with 31 points.  There were questions about his defence but it was pretty clear that he could score.  Big things were expected for the 2013/14 season.  They haven't happened yet.  Through 32 games he has only five goals and 11 points and a league worst -21 +/- rating.  There have even been rumors that the struggling Oilers are considering trading him.

Yakupov has now appeared in 80 NHL games.  This is roughly one regular season under normal circumstances.  Yakupov has 42 points in his first 80 games.  That isn't a bad showing for a teenager in the NHL.  He still has defensive issues but with time those problems could be solved.  As comparables there are recent first overall draft picks Steve Stamkos (2008) who put up 46 points in 79 games and John Tavares (2009) who put up 54 points in 82 games.  These players are both among the best in the NHL.  Yakupov is behind them, but not by a significant margin.  He is behind them offensively and also defensively but it isn't impossible to imagine him making progress like they did.

It is always difficult to project the career of a teenager in the NHL.  Most players who are good enough to make the league at such a young age go on to have significant careers.  Yakupov will likely be no different.  Young players are often heartbreaking.  It takes them awhile to develop into full-fledged NHLers.  They will look out of place until they do.  They have a big learning curve to climb.  Until they succeed there is a market to trade them.  They are not (yet) working out in the NHL and others see their potential and willing to pay for the chance to have them develop with their club. 

I think Nail Yakupov is a good investment for any team.  He will likely be a very good hockey player.  He has issues right now, but time and hard work will likely fix them.  The Edmonton Oilers want to be the team that still has his rights when he works out.  Should Yakupov be traded it will likely be a serious mistake.

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com