At the end of this season, Nail Yakupov’s three year entry level contract will be up and he’ll be a restricted free agent. Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish spoke about the young winger following the NHL’s trade deadline and the relationship between the club and player moving into the future.
“I see it to continue to evolve the way that it has,” MacTavish said. “We all see the promise now that we had when we drafted him. I had zero interest in trading Nail Yakupov. I think we’ve gone this far, we’ve got to see the end now. It has been some ups and downs, some sideways play and some head-scratching stuff and he’s on top of his game now. He shows all the assets that we saw when we drafted him: the speed, the physical power, the shot, he’s making good plays with the puck and who knows what unlatches all that for him, but he’s really figured it out. He’s playing with confidence, he’s a hardworking guy and we’ve got to see how it finishes. I’ve have no question that Yak is going to continue to develop and he’s got a reference point of what he needs to do now because he’s hit a new level. I’m as curious as anybody to see where that level goes because I think it’s sky high.”
Yakupov has eight points in his last nine games.