With all the problems the Edmonton Oilers have had this season, Nail Yakupov’s struggles have been overshadowed, but unless something changes he will regress offensively for the third straight season. The former 2012 first overall pick has just four goals and eight points in 34 games this season.
“I’m doing everything right,” Yakupov insisted, per the Edmonton Sun.
“I can say I do everything right. I work 100%. I’m not cheating (defensively). I’m not doing any bad stuff.”
He added that while he obviously would like to get more points, he doesn’t “want to get crazy” over it.
Of course this wasn’t what the Oilers envisioned when they drafted him, but it’s too early to dismiss him as a major bust despite the evidence pointing towards it. He is still just 21 years old and to paint his struggles in another light, he is actually tied for the career high in goals (32) and ranks second in points (63) among players from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Is the sample size small? Obviously, but that’s kind of the point.
It’s also worth noting that his offensive struggles haven’t come in isolation. The Oilers as a team have been remarkably bad offensively and everyone from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle on down has underperformed. New bench boss Todd Nelson is hoping a system change will help spark the team and Yakupov in particular.
“We’re trying to create more offense as a team and he’s a guy who can provide that for us,” said Nelson. “You have to get into a position where he can shoot the puck. We have to keep on working with him, going into the scoring areas.
“And with the system we’re implementing, it should open up everybody. He’s just like every other player, we have to put these guys more in a position to succeed.”
Edmonton will play Arizona on Tuesday as the Oilers try to win for just the second time in 20 games.