Russian Olympic scout blasts Yakupov: ‘If he’s not going to change his game, he has no future’


These aren’t the best of times for Nail Yakupov.

After being a healthy scratch for consecutive games earlier in the week, Yakupov was put on blast by Russian Olympic scout Igor Kravchuk, currently analyzing NHLers in preparation for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

“He has to make up his mind, if he’s not going to change his game, then he has no future (in the NHL),” Kravchuk told TSN 1200 Radio Ottawa. “From what I see, his team game is really, really poor. He tries to do a lot of things by himself, he has absolutely no defense.

“That’s what really concerns us as scouts.”

Yakupov was one of the 35 players invited to Russia’s pre-Olympic camp held in late August. The 20-year-old, selected first overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is coming off a successful rookie campaign in which he led all first-year players in goals (17) and tied Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau in points, with 31.

That said, his sophomore campaign has been a disappointment.

New Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins scratched Yakupov for games in Toronto and Washington, saying the winger needed a “reset.”

Yakupov returned to the lineup for Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh but was ineffective, finishing minus-1 with just one shot on goal in 17:29 of action — this coming after he said “I’m not going to change,” adding, “I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift.”

Yakupov’s rocky second season in Edmonton has landed him in the middle of trade rumors. Last night, one surfaced out of Buffalo involving goalie Ryan Miller and forward Thomas Vanek.

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.