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Russian Olympic scout: Edmonton Oilers’ Nail Yakupov “has no future”

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Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers

Learning to play well without the puck will help Nail Yakupov’s prospects. (Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins isn’t the only hockey authority who’s grown tired of Nail Yakupov’s selfish play.

Igor Kravchuk, who split 12 NHL seasons among six different teams, is in North America scouting NHL talent for Russia’s Olympic team. And like Eakins, he’s not happy with the first-overall pick of the 2012 draft.

Unlike Eakins, though, he’s under no pressure to sugarcoat his take.

“He has to make [up] his mind,” Kravchuk said this morning on Team 1200 radio in Ottawa. “If he’s not going to change his game, then he has no future.”

Please. Go on.

“Obviously, from what I see, his team game is really, really poor. He tries to do a lot of things by himself and he has absolutely no defense and that’s what really concerns [me] as a scout. But if he’s going to listen to what the coach says, if he’s going to change his game, then he’s got a future.”

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  • Published On Oct 16, 2013
  • Remembering the moments that defined the 2013 NHL season

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    Nail Yakupov channeled Theo Fleury in his tying goal against the Kings back in January. (Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

    Nail Yakupov channeled Theo Fleury in his tying goal against the Kings back in January. (Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    I always have the best intentions at the beginning of each season to make a running tab of the moments most worth remembering. And, much like my determination to get back into game shape, it hasn’t happened yet.

    Still, it wasn’t too hard to come up with a list now that we’re at season’s end. The games offered enough highlights–and lowlights–to fill a full-length schedule. Here are my favorites:

    The Yakupov Slide: With the goalie pulled and Edmonton trailing Los Angeles by one back in January, Nail Yakupov crafted the signature moment of his rookie season: batting a Taylor Hall rebound out of midair and putting it behind Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with just 4.7 seconds left on the clock. He took a lot of grief for his spontaneous Theo Fleury impression, but it was a beautiful tally at a key moment. That’s exactly the kind of goal that calls for an over-the-top celly (yep, celly). You want to follow a sport that’s had all the life sucked out of it? Watch the NFL.

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  • Published On Apr 26, 2013
  • Flyers return Laughton to Oshawa; more junior decisions to come

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    scott-laughton

    The Flyers’ Scott Laughton (left) recorded 10 shots in five games this season. (Elsa/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Matt Dumba got the news from the Wild this morning. Scott Laughton heard from the Flyers this afternoon.

    With their sixth games looming and the choice of burning a contract year to be made, Minnesota and Philadelphia brass chose to return the promising pair to their junior hockey teams today.

    Neither decision was a surprise. Dumba, the seventh overall pick in 2012 saddled with an unfortunate number was no surprise. He failed to get in a game, but heads back to Red Deer with a first-hand perspective on what it takes to get to the next level. “Just having this experience under my belt, I should be steps ahead of others guys throughout the [WHL],” he told Mike Russo of the Star-Tribune. “I’m going to go back there with that confidence and that swag to play my best game and be confident and play with poise and be good. Hopefully next year it sets me up well.”

    Laughton, made for a tougher decision after performing well in a five-game audition, but there was a sense that his development would be better served with heavier minutes in Oshawa.

    That leaves seven players waiting for the final decision on their fate. It’s not always an easy call. A player may look ready to contribute physically, but he might lack the emotional maturity to survive the grind. Conversely, a player may be ready, but there might not be an opportunity to get the ice time he needs for proper development.

    Here’s what to expect:

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  • Published On Jan 27, 2013
  • Top Line: Yakupov’s wild goal celebration, Teemu’s bobblehead, more

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    By Allan Muir

    • Nail Yakupov with the greatest goal celly in a long time highlighted an insane finish in Edmonton Thursday night. Oh, and the Cup champion Kings have yet to win a game.

    Keeping a good thing going will be key for an Anaheim team that’s trying to stay relevant in the Los Angeles market. Might also help if they could dig up a picture of Teemu Selanne to send to the manufacturer of his next bobblehead.

    • Colorado forward John Mitchell, after taking a puck to the forehead, “knew he was cut.” That’s good. Knowing you have a problem is always the first step to recovery.

    • “I love him more.” “No, I love him more!” Ray Bourque is the latest to go gaga over Justin Bieber
    Boston rookie Dougie Hamilton , the teen sensation who looks waaay better in black and gold than he did earlier this month in red and white.

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  • Published On Jan 25, 2013
  • Game Night: Edmonton at Vancouver

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    Cory Schneider

    Cory Schneider allowed five goals in 14 minutes in his first season-opening start. (Jeff Vinick/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Game of the night: Oilers at Canucks, 9 p.m. EST. Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz and the impossibly young Edmonton Oilers make their season debut tonight in Vancouver, where a goalie controversy smolders after Cory Schneider’s ascension from beloved backup to team-leading starter went a little less smoothly than planned. Not that he was a sieve in Saturday’s 7-3 loss to Anaheim, exactly, but the three goals he allowed on four second period shots gave off a distinct, Hardy Astrom-like odor. To be fair, the blame should be pinned equally on the other 18 Canucks who morphed into traffic cones every time Teemu Selanne touched the puck, but that’s not the way it works, is it? No word on tonight’s starter yet after Roberto Luongo was equally sketchy in relief, but coaching logic suggests you throw Schneider back to the wolves. This is his team now, and he needs a chance to grab the reins.

    The Oilers had more players active in the lockout than any other team, so they should be ready to come out of the gate fast. Of course, they started 8-2-2 last year and they still managed to find their way into the cellar. Yakupov and Schultz will be the center of attention in their NHL debuts. Schultz was the AHL’s best player with 48 points and a surprisingly composed defensive game, but he still has a lot to learn on the back end. His gaffes could cancel out his creativity in the early going. Yakupov, who alternated between dull and listless at the World Junior Championships last month, will skate on a stout second line with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, behind a stacked first unit of Taylor Hall, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. They’ll produce, but the question is how well they’ll defend. Edmonton needs Ryan Whitney to be a beast to keep the Canucks in check. We’ll see about that.

    Prediction: 5-4 Vancouver

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  • Published On Jan 20, 2013
  • NHL season will be worth the wait

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    Flyers fans

    Hockey starved Flyers fans get to open the season by welcoming the hated Penguins. (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Yeah, I heard you last September. “Wake me up when the lockout’s over,” you said.

    No one’s blaming you for nodding off while the finger-pointing, name calling, line-in-the-sand-drawing lawyers cost us nearly four months of NHL hockey. In fact, I got a little blurry myself listening to all that talk about  cap escalators and salary variance and rose ceremonies, but here I am with that call you’ve been waiting for. Time to rub the sleep out of your eyes, pull the team sweater out of mothballs, settle into that lucky couch groove and pop the top on your favorite frosty beverage. (And while you’re waiting for the first puck ro drop, some suggested reading..)

    The abbreviated 2013 NHL season finally begins Saturday afternoon. And it’s gonna be a good one. (Kings raise banner in style.)

    Make that really good. The 48-games-in-99-days, intra-conference schedule isn’t just “better than nothing.” This impossibly compressed timeline actually magnifies the importance of every moment, every slump, every streak, every injury. With so much on the line and no margin for error, it even makes an Islanders game worth watching. On a Tuesday. In February.

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  • Published On Jan 18, 2013
  • Oilers arena saga just another part of life in the crazy NHL

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    Fans in Edmonton have every right to be outraged by the threat of losing Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and company to another city just as the Oilers begin to blossom. (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    In some ways, it’s very difficult to know what to make of the Oilers’ ownership. There are probably 20 NHL teams — and maybe more — that would love to have the fan base that Edmonton enjoys and a group of civic leaders who’ve been willing to shell out some big bucks to keep the club happy. But that may not be good enough. The team’s owner seem to be in the process of backing away from the deal he reached with the city on a new arena and is ostensibly looking elsewhere, perhaps Seattle, for something he thinks is better.

    Many believe it is a bluff, designed to get more concessions from Edmonton thrown into the pot for the arena. It sure seems that way, although you can’t really be sure.

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  • Published On Sep 26, 2012


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