With Taylor Hall out for an estimated two-to-four weeks, the Edmonton Oilers need other forwards to step up. So far, it appears that this will mean elevated roles for Nail Yakupov and David Perron, in particular.
Looking at Saturday’s shift charts, Yakupov received the first audition with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Perron, meanwhile, scored his first goal of the 2014-15.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson noted significant ice time increases for both players, especially Yakupov; the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NHL Draft received almost six more minutes than his previous high this season.
While the Oilers are notably weak down the middle, they actually boast a host of options on the wing. Yakupov, Eberle and Perron are the most obvious examples as first-line wingers without Hall, yet head coach Dallas Eakins could consider other alignments as well. Perhaps he’ll want to add a possession-friendly winger such as Benoit Pouliot or Teddy Purcell to the top line?
None of these scenarios truly dull the pain of losing their best player and general wrecking ball winger. Still, for a team that continues to struggle to compete, perhaps it would be beneficial to see more from guys like Yakupov?
(Besides, Yakupov could make himself a nice chunk of change if he plays well in the last year of his entry-level contract.)