During this period of his career, Nail Yakupov seems like one of those all-or-nothing goal scorers.* So far, it’s been all-nothing, so Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins decided to scratch him for Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
One can understand why Eakins benched the 20-year-old. He doesn’t have a goal or an assist in four games so far this season, and he’s not the kind of defensive specialist who will dominate play even when he isn’t lighting up the scoreboard.
Yakupov tied Jonathan Huberdeau for the rookie scoring lead with 31 points last season, including 17 goals. Even then, he was a little streaky, scoring a nice five points in seven games in January, then being limited to 11 games in 27 games in the middle of the season before an explosive end (15 points in 14 games) to finish 2013.
This might be a good thing for the fiery Russian, as long as it doesn’t hurt his self-confidence. (He doesn’t seem lacking in that category, generally speaking.)
* – The ones who accomplish the rare feat of scoring more goals than assists.