Nail Yakupov was a healthy scratch more than a few times last season, his name was thrown around the trade rumour mill, and he had a team-worst minus-33 plus/minus rating. It wasn’t exactly the sophomore campaign you’d expect from a No. 1 draft pick after a lights-out rookie year. But Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins wants you to know—yet again—that he likes the kid. “My relationship with Nail is a great one,” Eakins told Sportsnet The Fan 590’s Greg Brady and Andrew Walker on Monday. “That’s why I kind of chuckle with the way it gets drawn out in the media. You take a kid out of the lineup and suddenly there’s a big fight going on. Well, there’s no fight. Nail understood what was going on.” The No. 1 overall pick in 2012, the Russian-born 20-year-old enjoyed a shortened rookie campaign that was almost the stuff of Oilers fans’ dreams. In 48 games, Yakupov put up 17 goals—he scored a hat-trick in his final game of the year—and 14 assists. His shooting percentage was a ridiculous 21 per cent.
Eakins: There’s no bad blood with Yakupov
Sportsnet | May 27