Hall returns to the Oilers lineup vs. Flyers


Taylor Hall will return to the Oilers lineup tonight when Edmonton plays host to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hall has missed 23 games due to a foot injury.

The 23-year-old is expected to begin tonight’s game on a line with Anton Lander and Andrew Miller. He is also expected to see power play time alongside Nail Yakupov and Derek Roy.

Hall also missed five games in November due to a knee injury.

In 42 games this season Hall has 11 goals and 30 points.

Philadelphia won the only other meeting between the two clubs 4-1 on Nov. 4.

Is Nail Yakupov starting to figure things out?


Aside from being months away from grabbing yet another can’t-miss prospect, there haven’t been a lot of bright sides for the Edmonton Oilers to look on. Nail Yakupov’s last two months might be one point of optimism, though.

The team’s most wayward No. 1 overall pick has looked positively lost at times during his first three years in the NHL, inspiring at least some thoughts that maybe he was rushed to the top league. Even at 21, especially impatient observers probably were getting worried about the budding sniper.

While his possession stats argue that there’s still plenty of room for improvement, the top pick of the 2012 NHL Draft is at least starting to produce some offense lately.

Seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel?

He extended a five-game point streak last night with a goal and an assist, giving him three goals and three assists in that span. After only generating 12 points in his first 50 games this season, Yakupov now has 16 points in his last 20.

Again, it doesn’t take that long to find something to nitpick; Yakupov also has a -8 rating in his more positive last two months, giving him a -33 mark that matches last year’s troubling total. Many rightly dismiss plus/minus as a stat that often reflects the quality of one’s team (and/or linemates) more than anything else, yet more traditional-stats-minded people will use that to question how much progress the young Russian has really made.

Still, when you consider the fact that he only managed a goal in a 21-game span from November 13 – Dec. 30, generating a long stretch where he scores in almost every game is a breath of fresh air.

A feel-good story

It seems like he’s generating some positive press off of the ice, too.

There was a buzz created as word surfaced about Yakupov’s generosity toward a homeless man, but he just shrugged it off to QMI.

“I usually like to give money to homeless, guys sitting with animals, cats or dogs,” Yakupov said. “It’s a touching moment. I can’t just walk by. I always like to give them something to buy some food.”


Yakupov and the Oilers still have a long, long way to go, but at least there are finally some signs of progress for the struggling prospect.

PHT Morning Skate: (Video) Jets fans taunt Sharks over Thornton saga


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

During Winnipeg’s 5-2 victory over San Jose last night, Jets fans started a “Who’s your Captain” chant in light of the recent drama involving Joe Thornton and GM Doug Wilson:

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The Detroit Red Wings have some interest in re-signing trade deadline acquisition Marek Zidlicky. (NHL.com)

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez took another step towards return by participating in battle drills. (LA Kings Insider)

Nail Yakupov recently treated a homeless man that approached him while Yakupov was in his car to a $100 meal and then gave him the rest of the money he had on him in the hopes that the man could find a place to stay for the night. (Edmonton Journal)

Capitals coach Barry Trotz felt rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov was “our best player by a wide margin” on Monday. He’s been very effective in general lately. (CSN Washington)

Here are the highlights from the Sabres 2-1 shootout victory over the Bruins:

Speaking of Boston, Jeremy Roenick interviewed Patrice Bergeron to talk about superstitions, playing in Boston, and more:

PHT Morning Skate: How a hockey enforcer became a drug-dealing cop


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The tragic descent of Bryce Charpentier, a former minor league enforcer, who became a San Diego Police Officer and used his position to get and eventually deal drugs. (Vice Sports)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 fantasy hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $3,000. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Enter Now!

Columbus has been terrible in the first 20 minutes of its recent contests. (Columbus Dispatch)

Highlights from San Jose’s 2-1 shootout win over Pittsburgh:

In a possible nod to his future, Daniel Alfredsson was in Senators GM Bryan Murray’s box for Sunday’s game against Calgary. Alfredsson wanted to pick the brains of the scouting staff. (Ottawa Sun)

Nail Yakupov posed for a picture with the NHL’s first Russian referee, Evgeny Romasko. Paul Devorski is the one in more casual attire:

While we’re on the subject of Tweets, here’s a fun exchange between the Coyotes, Predators, and league:

Monique Lamoureux would love to have the opportunity to play in an outdoor game in the lead up to the Winter Classic. Her CWHL Boston Blades just won the Clarkson Cup against the Montreal Stars while the 2016 Winter Classic will feature the Canadiens and Bruins. (Puck Daddy)

Penguins forward Craig Adams was a healthy scratch again on Monday. Before that happened, the veteran of 937 NHL games said that while he obviously wants to play, he understands the situation. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

In Edmonton, Yakupov’s future seems bright again


It took a while, but Nail Yakupov seems to have figured out life as an Edmonton Oiler.

And what’s more, he wants to keep it going.

The oft-maligned winger, who Edmonton made the first overall selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, spent the first three years of his career battling expectations, healthy scratches and perceptions that maybe, just maybe, he didn’t want to be there.

This week, Yakupov — a pending RFA — put those latter concerns to rest.

“I’m still pretty young and I hope I’m going to be in this league for a long time. I want to play for the Edmonton Oilers,” Yakupov said, per the Edmonton Sun. “I want to work hard, especially for the guys who trust me and gave me support — MacT and Nelly — and we have a good group of players on the team.”

“MacT and Nelly” are, of course, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish and head coach Todd Nelson, who have played a significant role in Yakupov’s recent upswing, which has seen the 21-year-old — yes, Yakupov is still only 21 — score nine points in his last 13 games.

MacTavish went out midway through the season and acquired Derek Roy, who has centered Yakupov since joining the Oilers and proven to be the ideal veteran, playmaking fit (which is something of a surprise, given most had toe-tagged Roy after failed stints in Vancouver, St. Louis and Nashville.)

Nelson, meanwhile, rewarded Yakupov with a significant uptick in ice time, something that was an issue under previous head coach Dallas Eakins, and Yakupov seems to finally have faith in a head coach — his third in three years, it should be pointed out.

“He’s helped me a lot,” Yakupov said of Nelson. “I think he’s the guy who helped me the most.”

All of these good vibes bode well for Yakupov’s future in Edmonton, which will soon be a topic of discussion. He’s in the last of his three-year entry-level deal and, barring some dramatic turn of events, should be back with the Oilers next season.

But that said, the Yakupov camp isn’t ready to start talking figures.

“The season is getting into the final swing and there is no time to change the focus on contract talks,” Yakupov’s agent, Igor Larionov, told PHT via email this week. “Nail is playing great hockey for a while now and he doesn’t need any distraction at this moment.”

The strategy make sense, as Yakupov still needs to show how far removed he is from the “old” Yakupov. But make no mistake: Edmonton is happy, Yakupov is happy and it sure sounds like both sides are ready to explore the future together.

“We’ve gone this far,” MacTavish said. “We all have to see the end now.”