23-Year-Old Right Wing – St. Louis Blues
Nail Yakupov Contract Information:
Signed to a two-year, $5 million contract extension with the Oilers in April of 2015.
Yakupov (knee) has "zero plans of returning to Russia" and fully expects to play in the NHL next season, Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest reports.
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Nail Yakupov: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Get on the Yakupov Express now. Do not let him pass in your draft, and see if you can trade for him in keeper formats. Yakupov has all the right tools to win the lottery to play alongside Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall, and that could equate to tons of points. Super fast and supremely talented, Yakupov may have underachieved to date, but he ended last season on the upswing and could parlay that surge into a full-on breakout. Before that happens, heíll need to demonstrate that he can at least be average in his own zone to stay with McDavid and Hall, but we think heís motivated to pull it off. Welcome to the reset on your career, Mr. Yakupov.
Yakupov has been an enigma in his first two seasons with Edmonton. The uber-talented forward only has 28 goals in 111 NHL games, after so much more was expected. Part of the problem could be his maturity. He was used to being the best player on every team he had ever played on, but he's just one fish in a lake of many in Edmonton. So far, he hasn't played substantial top-line minutes and hasnít seen much duty with the top power-play unit, either. That figures to continue this season, especially after the offseason acquisitions of Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell. The pressure is certainly on and he needs to get off to a hot start to quiet his critics. Otherwise, Yakupovís name could continue to be bandied about in trade rumors if he continues to disappoint.
Yakupov's first season in the NHL was an up and down one. While he did finish with 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games, he had stretches where he was absolutely invisible. Of course, that is to be expected from a pimple-faced, first-year player no matter how highly touted he is. The good news is that he should approach the 30-goal level this season and that's while toiling on the second line. He should be a second wing for most fantasy teams. Watch out if he ever gets a first-line gig.
Yakupov is yet another top overall pick that the Oilers have added to their already potent arsenal. Yakupov can skate like very few players (think Pavel Bure) and has a rocket for a shot. Passing and vision are also among his strengths. You want Yakupov on your team in dynasty or keeper leagues. The big question in re-draft leagues will be, does he begin the season with Edmonton? Smart money is yes as he will be given every opportunity to make the sqaud out of camp. But keep this in mind -- the Oilers don't have to force him as they have plenty of offensive talent to keep the fans happy. And even if he does play in the NHL from day one, he won't play on the top line ... not yet anyway. There's a slim chance they'll keep him in junior solely to keep his clock from running -- this team has a lot of young, expensive talent and they really need to balance their cap hits sooner rather than later.