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

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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.