It is little consolation given the Edmonton Oilers failed to qualify for the playoffs, but rookie sensation Nail Yakupov has been recognized for his fine play this month and was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for April.
Yakupov led all rookies in scoring during the month that saw him pot 11 goals and add 15 assists in just 14 games. He also registered his first NHL hat-trick in the season finale against the Vancouver Canucks, one of many to come in the future.
According to NHL.com, Yakupov beat out the Montreal Canadiens’ rookie Alex Galchenyuk who had 6 goals and 6 assists along with teammate Justin Schultz who put up 3 goals and 8 assists. The 19-year old Russian also edged out the Flames’ Sven Baertschi (3-8 – 11 in 10 games), Chicago’s Brandon Saad (4-4 – 8 in 13 games and the Stars Alex Chiasson (6-1 – 7 in 7 games. Yes, Yakupov was clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the top first year players this month
Yakupov’s name is surely to be involved in the discussion over the Calder Trophy for the top rookie of the season but it could be a case of too little too late. After a fine start to the season, last year’s first overall pick cooled off during the middle of the year before heating up for the final month of the season.
Will it be enough to propel Yakupov into being nominated for the Calder? The incredible finish did catapult Yakupov to the top of the rookie points scoring race where he finished with 17 goals and 14 assists, good for 31 points in all 48 games. According to NHL.com, Yakupov also led all rookies with 6 powerplay goals and in shooting percentage with an impressive 21.0%.
His 31 points were tied with Jonathan Huberdeau for the lead while Cory Conacher, now with the Ottawa Senators was third with 29 points. Justin Schultz tied for fifth with 27 points and did lead all rookie defenseman.