Why Waiting To Sign Yakupov Makes Perfect Sense


The Oilers should be, especially if the first round of CBA proposals, which included this ELC section set forth by the NHL has any legs. Under the current agreement (article 8), certain ELC deals expire after 3 years of service in the NHL. Now, we all remember the offer sheet the Oilers gave to Dustin Penner back in 2007, who had just completed his entry level deal to become a RFA & if you didn’t than here it is. Kevin Lowe received a lot of flack from this, mostly coming from former Ducks GM Brian Burke who blamed Lowe for single handedly raising the salary structure for players coming out of their entry level deals (as described in Article 8 of the current CBA) which, according to Burke, caused every GM to panic when the time came to sign their own players before reaching RFA status. Luckily for the Oilers, they won’t have to worry about this for the next 3 or possibly 5 years if this portion of the deal is accepted.

Locking in any young  player for the first 5 years of his career would definitely be a huge boost for every NHL team. Not only would it save teams millions of dollars it would allow GMs to utilize the salary cap for a longer term. So it would absolutely beneficial for the Oilers & the other 29 teams to hold onto these young players for a longer period of time. Let’s face it, not all players develop at the same rate so in some instances teams don’t really know what kind of player they have after 3yrs, so by extendeding the ELC by 1 or 2 years should allow for some flexibilty for each team in regards to developing prospects. Unfortunately, we also know that the NHLPA is a money driven union & I’m all but certain they will balk at this term but still hopeful they can meet in the middle by possibly agreeing to a 4 year ELC which looks fair. Either way this shouldn’t be a huge issue in the grand scheme of the CBA but it will sure become an interesting topic of discussion in the future if any extensions are made.

So given this info of how the NHL would like to have ELCs re-structured, it makes perfect sense as to why the Oilers should hold off on signing Yakupov until a new agreement is reached…or does it? Remember all of those members of the media & numerous scouting groups who pegged Nail as a potential Russian to run to the KHL for more money?  Then, there were those who argued, with merit that Yakupov chose to play in the CHL over the KHL in the 1st place, including Nail’s agent Igor Larionov in this piece from the Edmonton Journal.

"“Do you foresee a scenario in which Nail would go to the KHL or can you guarantee to Oiler fans that won’t happen?” Stauffer asked.“You know what,” Larionov said, then chuckled. “There’s nothing in this life guaranteed but I know he would stay. Like two years ago, Kuznetsov, for example, drafted by Washington Capitals in the first round so he decided to stay and going for the money, and I told the press like last week when I was in Moscow for funeral of Vladimir Krutov, I told them I think it’s a big mistake because he should be playing here in North America and Nail took a different path. So he came here to CHL to play two years and he studied the games at the North American level and the North American style and he speaks English now he’s ready to move to the next level. So that’s only one league exists for him, the National Hockey League, nothing else.”"

Let’s keep in mind, that quote was nearly a month ago & there was no way that anyone (outside of the NHL)  could have known an  extended ELC would be in play right now. Could Larionov use this as leverage in negotiating the 1st contract for Yakupov moving forward, of course but let’s hope not. One would think it should be in the back of the minds of Oilers management moving forward & the Canadiens management group as well with Galchenyuk in the fold there when it comes to eventually signing these players.  In regards to Yakupov & the so called “Russian Factor“, fear not Oilers fans, he reminded us that he’s Muslim, not Russian which sure helped to put all Oilers fans alike & their minds at ease!

Whew, that’s a relief right? Sort of but not really. This is still a negotiating process so like it or not & regardless of Yakupov’s origin there are many variables to look at moving forward here in regards to the signing of this player to a contract. Back in June, the “Russian Factor” was repeated time & time again as a non-issue but now, given this entirely new set of circumstances which have developed could all very well become useful to Yakupov & his agent as a bargaining chip for this potential NHL star . Let’s hope that Nail’s previous “NHL or bust” type comments as well as the Oilers ongoing level of patience comes to the forefront & a deal is made, preferably after the CBA is finalized.

In the meantime, we as fans potentially get to ride out another wave of when and/or will he sign here. But hey,  no worries right, after all, we all knew that Justin Schultz was a lock to sign with the Oilers…right?

Ahhhh, good  times in Oil Country!