On Friday, following the deal, Yakupov had his say: “I think it’s awesome, I don’t know what winning is.”
On Saturday, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli offered his thoughts on why Yakupov was no longer a fit in Edmonton, which has traded two of its former first overall picks — Yakupov and, in June, Taylor Hall — in just a few months.
“I don’t know if it’s fair for me to assess why it didn’t work out just by looking at one year,” said Chiarelli, as per video from the Oilers’ Twitter account.
“But I could see there wasn’t a fit. Again … he’s a young player who has skill and talent. From what I saw the year before to what I saw this past year, I thought his game diluted. His strengths — I didn’t think (he was) playing to his strengths. There are other areas of his game that can improve and need to improve.”
Last season, Yakupov, who spent some time on a line with Connor McDavid, played in 60 games for the Oilers, scoring only eight goals and 23 points. But his struggles in Edmonton began long before last season.
“By the time we had arrived here, the new coaching staff and stuff, it was infected already. He had a lot of the past baggage that he was carrying with him,” said head coach Todd McLellan, as per the Edmonton Journal.
“We tried to get him going and it worked for awhile with Connor, and then both their injuries derailed that. People wonder, well, why didn’t you put him back there? Because we didn’t. And Ebs created a bond with Connor that we thought was going to be better. It’s as simple as that.”