The following is Nail Yakupov’s response to being asked, again, about his defensive game (from TSN):
Yakupov: Every day I’m talking to media just all about defense, so I don’t want to talk about this. Sometimes it just piss me off. So, let’s do something different. Let’s talk about different things.
Reporter: What pisses you off? I don’t understand what you’re saying.
Yakupov: Everyone asking me about defense. I’m not defensive and I like to play forward. OK, let’s do another question.
So that was fun.
Interestingly enough, the defense question was a roundabout way of discussing offense — specifically, Yakupov’s lack of it. The former first overall pick has just one goal and three points through eight games this year and, while nobody’s saying he’s going to win the Selke, there have been signs of defensive improvement, leading some to believe his offensive production might’ve taken a hit due to increased focus on the defensive side of things.
Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins recently praised Yakupov’s improved awareness and reading of the game.
“He’s not vacating the dangerous areas early,” he explained, per the Edmonton Journal. “Where he’d be getting ready to head off before we had the puck, he’s been right on point in a lot of situations this year.”