Anytime a team is doing poorly, there are always going to be rumours that rise about certain players. Sometimes after some negative body language, sometimes after a slump. In this case, Nail Yakupov’s head is on the block everywhere you look after being benched for two straight games early this week. Are the rumours validated by the sudden lack of playing time?
This is a young russian hockey player who loves to play, loves to score and loves doing it in front of his Canadian crowd. He’s hit somewhat of a sophomore slump, paired with the fact that this team hasn’t been giving him consistent chances to succeed. Earlier in the year, the production of Ales Hemsky worked as a curtain to hide Yakupov’s point-less games, but no longer. The team is losing and Yakupov has given the team the least so far.
So I have to say the rumours are unwarranted, mostly for the reasoning that you just don’t trade a player at his worst. You don’t trade a first overall pick, either. These are some serious laws of conduct here. The Oilers can’t give up on a player that hasn’t even played 60 games for them. What they need is to find him a spark, get him hot and ride his production for a little while. Whether it be spending more time in practice or showing him how to play the two way game, helping him take his focus off his lack of goal production and loosening the grip on his stick, or lighting a fire under his ass and sitting him again, this team needs to spark Yakupov, not trade him.
Pundits everywhere will spin rumours until the cows come home, but the truth is that you don’t need to be a genius to know that you don’t give up on your horses after the first lap of it’s first race. This team will need Yakupov moving forward.