Yakupov: ‘I love this city and I want to play for this team’

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Despite what his agent said yesterday, Nail Yakupov says he doesn’t want to be traded. He wants to play for the Edmonton Oilers.

“I just want to help my team win every game,” the 20-year-old said today, per the club’s Twitter account. “I love this city and I want to play for this team.”

As mentioned, that flies somewhat in the face of remarks his agent, Igor Larionov, made in an interview with ESPN.

“We’re willing to make a move,” Larionov said. “Any team. That happens and that’s part of life.”

Then again, Yakupov wasn’t entirely acquiescent in his comments today. He wants to play more than the 10 or 11 minutes he’s been logging in recent games, and he thinks he deserves to.

The first overall pick in the 2012 draft, Yakupov has been the subject of intense trade speculation as both he and the Oilers have struggled out of the gate. Suffice to say, his agent’s comments only added to that speculation.

Our take? Even if Larionov was only being realistic — after all, trades do happen in pro sports — he didn’t exactly make Yakupov sound committed to the Oilers. And for a kid whose “team game” has been called “really, really poor,” well, parallels are bound to be drawn.

Edmonton hosts Dallas tomorrow.