In terms of sophomore slumps, it seemed Nail Yakupov went from one low point to another last season for the Edmonton Oilers.
The former first overall pick from 2012 scored only 11 goals and 24 points in 63 games in 2013-14 with the Oilers, having also dealt with being a healthy scratch and concussion issues and an ankle injury at the end of February that experienced a setback in April.
It never seemed him and rookie head coach Dallas Eakins were on the same page, either. Eakins tried to put to rest any notion that the relationship between him and Yakupov had been strained this past season.
“My relationship with Nail is a great one,” Eakins told The Fan 590’s Greg Brady and Andrew Walker, as per Sportsnet.ca.
“That’s why I kind of chuckle with the way it gets drawn out in the media. You take a kid out of the lineup and suddenly there’s a big fight going on. Well, there’s no fight. Nail understood what was going on.”
So, there’s that. But it will still be interesting to see what happens this off-season with the 20-year-old Yakupov, who has one more year remaining on his entry-level contract with the Oilers.
In the middle of March, with the end of the regular season in sight and toward the end of a difficult season overall for the Oilers, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that it appeared unlikely Yakupov would be back in Edmonton for next season.