Yakupov: ‘It’s pretty cold on the bench’


After playing a season-low 6:29 in Edmonton’s 6-2 win over Winnipeg prior to the holiday break, Nail Yakupov is looking to get back to a healthy dose of playing time — if only to stay warm.

“I can’t say it was good,” Yakupov told the Edmonton Journal. “I want to play more. It’s pretty cold on the bench, but I have to work in practice and find more minutes.”

Even though the 20-year-old scored two points (1G, 1A) against the Jets, head coach Dallas Eakins had him bolted to the pine for the majority of the night. Yakupov played two shifts in the first period, two in the second, then four in the final frame — when the game was basically settled — that prompted questions of Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish.

Specifically, should the Oilers have considered sending Yakupov to AHL Oklahoma City over the holiday break, like they did with Magnus Paajarvi during his sophomore campaign?

No way, said MacT, adding “I don’t think it’s going to serve him well.”

The Oilers take on Alberta rivals Calgary at the Saddledome tonight. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of minutes Yakupov gets against a team he’s had great success against, scoring three goals and five points in six career games against the Flames.

Sharks name Pavelski captain; Thornton, Couture alternates

Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton
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Joe Pavelski is the new captain of the San Jose Sharks. The club made the announcement today via Twitter.

The former captain, Joe Thornton, will be an alternate captain, along with Logan Couture.

Pavelski, 31, was the Sharks’ leading scorer last season, finishing with 37 goals and 33 assists. He’s also signed through 2018-19, so giving him the ‘C’ makes sense from a long-term stability perspective.

Couture, 26, is also signed through 2018-19, while Thornton, 36, only has two years left on his contract.

The Sharks had four alternate captains (Thornton, Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) in 2014-15, but no captain.

Related: DeBoer says Sharks will have a captain next season

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.