Nail Yakupov was skating with injured reserve players Mark Arcobello and Ryan Jones on Monday at practice in Leduc. It appeared that he would not play on Tuesday against Phoenix and after practice, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins confirmed that would be the case.
"Yak won’t play next game," Eakins began. "We had a very long in-depth conversation this morning probably a good 40 minutes, longest I’ve had with any player. Him and I have sorted out a few things, it was a good conversation and we have a definite plan moving forward. I have some things I want to do and he’s agreed to do some things from his end so we’ll see how that goes."
|Nail Yakupov |
The Oilers head coach was also asked if he's been seeing better defensive work from the Russian winger.
"I see him trying. I will say this: he isn’t near turning over as many pucks as he did at the start of this season, he’s suddenly in the shot lane in our own zone, he is trying to do the right thing along the walls but young guys in this league still need lots of work there. I want to go over the other side of the game with him, I explained to him this morning that we need him to score. With the deal in place, if he holds up his end of the bargain then the way I will hold it up is to put him -- as we are doing with Roman Horak -- to put him in places to succeed."
Yakupov talked about the conversation he had with his coach.
"(We talked) about life, about hockey. We had a good chat. It was very good," said Yakupov. "We have a deal between me and him so we'll see what happens."
In recent games, Yakupov has played on the fourth line and has not been on the power play at all. Last game, he finally did see some power play time but still only played slightly over eight minutes.
"There’s a lot of things going on, I get it around town 'you better play Yakupov with better guys, get him on the power play' but people seem to forget we have other players. Especially on that right side. Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Ales Hemsky are all very good players. Those are the guys he is in against, that’s hard for a 20 year old. We are all quick to forget the competition he is up against. But we have a plan together and that’s the most important thing. We both feel good about what we are going to try to do."
Eakins added that he felt that at this point for Yakupov, it's all about creating good habits.
"You’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to do a number of things on the ice everyday it can never change. We can not give things to people, you have to earn them. Our veteran guys, if they have an off game, have already earned the right for a second chance through their experience and that’s the challenge of being a young guy. You’ve got to take your knocks early on in your career. The biggest thing he’s run into isn’t so much his play, it’s the play of others at his position."
Yakupov understood the situation he was in as a second-year player.
"I'm just 20 years old," he said. "You've got to be strong and just keep working, keep practicing, listen to coach and just get 'er going."