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FUTURE WATCH | Bogdan Yakimov

by Ashley Docking / Edmonton Oilers

Playing in a new league, on a new team can be hard.

And as if the changes to your surroundings are not tough enough, add to that the moving to a new country. Culture shock will inevitably set in.

It’s something we hear about all the time. And it was no different for Oilers prospect Bogdan Yakimov when he started his first season with the Oklahoma City Barons this past fall.

“The start was not really good,” he said. “I had too many scoring chances that I couldn’t score on. And now, I’ve gotten better, I started to understand the North American game. Now I feel much more confident, and that’s for sure so important.”

Confidence will definitely help, but no matter how prepared you think you are, it’s just one of those things that will never be easy. 

Photo by Steven Christy | Oklahoma City Barons

However, Yakimov adjusted quickly and has become much more effective following just a short time period.

Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 232 pounds, the centre’s production was not what he expected when the season began. Yakimov recorded 10 points from October through December, just two goals and only one multi-point game.

“Hockey is so different to play (in the AHL). It's small ice, everything is faster and you don't have room to make plays. And for sure that is so different. I didn’t think I would get used to playing on the small ice, but I have now,” said Yakimov.

Following some off time at Christmas, Yakimov has sprung to life and started to live up to the potential he was selected for in the 2013 draft.

Yakimov has nearly tripled his production, adding six points each in January, February and March and he now has 12 goals, 28 points, heading into the final stretch of the season.

“I don't know why I started scoring better,” said Yakimov. “I think it's experience, you know? North American experience. It's why I am playing in the AHL. It's a league to get better in.”

Finding his stride coincided with finding some chemistry with another Baron, who has been the most effective scorer and arguably been the most successful player on the team this year.

“A lot of time, I play with (Andrew) Miller. All the second-half I've played with him. I don't really care who I play with, but I am comfortable with Miller. He's a good playmaker,” said Yakimov.

Miller, for his efforts and success on the score sheet, is now playing with the Oilers. His production continued in the NHL. After getting called up, Miller scored his first NHL goal on March 27, 2015 against Dallas. He became the first Oiler and sixth NHL player to record his first goal on a penalty shot.

But as Yakimov explained, the stunted production when he first arrived falls more on his own shoulders.

It is less a result of new surroundings than it is of an internal struggle, and just being able to find a rhythm. Truth be told, he was actually quite at home in Oklahoma.

“You know it was for sure not easy, (but) it's not really a big difference (being in the states). My father and my mother sometimes visit me, so they were here for three months. So that wasn't really a big difference.”

But the similarities ended there, as a language barrier was, and still is, the next hurdle to overcome for the young prospect.

To work on his English, another piece of home is actually the one helping with the transition and the translations.

“With my sister you know, she's an English teacher so she will teach me some more for sure,” said Yakimov.

But the progress he has made thus far has been more than impressive and it has bolstered relationships with those on the Barons.

“It's much easier when you know the English language, you know?,” Yakimov laughs, “You can talk to the guys! You can introduce yourself, you can get to know guys, it's so much fun.”

Photo by Andy Devlin | Edmonton Oilers

It’s also vital to getting that team feel, to have everyone integrated and bonding. By picking up English rather quickly, Yakimov has not only made his transition to the AHL easier, but it also helped make sure that the chemistry of the team is strong.

“Because every time they're joking or something it's very good (to understand). Most important that I can stand understand the coach (now) when he's talking. I will learn more in the summer in my home city with my teacher.”

Although his communication skills are a work in progress, there are no doubts of Yakimov’s confidence on the ice. That feeling doesn’t need to be described through words, his play speaks for itself.

This season, the 20-year-old Russian has recorded a career high in point production. His former personal best came in 2011-12 season with his MHL team, Reaktor Nizhnekamsk. Yakimov had 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points.

His positive play earned him a game with the Oilers for his first NHL action and, from his response, it was an tremendous experience for the young Baron.

“Oh it was so fast, you know? I didn't understand it was that fast,” said Yakimov, who got his first look at game action against Los Angeles and was thrown right into the thick of things on October 14, 2014.

“It was an unbelievable time because it was Los Angeles. I got there in the airport (and) it's a big change. The sun is shining, the ocean, the NHL players. I watched video before games with coaches; they showed me the central guys from Los Angeles. (Anze) Kopitar, (Brad) Richards, and (Jeff) Carter. I said just, ‘Wow, it's unreal.’ I think it's a dream for everybody to play in the NHL. I will try and get better for play there more times.”

As surprised by the speed and pace of the game at the NHL level as Yakimov was, that experience made him just that much more determined.

“I think it's speed (I need to improve on),” said Yakimov, but he added that his game isn’t to far away from where it needs to be to get to that next level and earn an extended stay with the Oilers.

“I need to work on everything a little bit to get better and I think I'll be ready to play in the NHL soon.”

Photo by Getty Images

Sure to help elevate his game will be this year’s playoff run with the Barons.  Their last chance to earn a Calder Cup in Oklahoma before they pick up and move to Bakersfield.

Career wise, Yakimov has only appeared in four post-season games but also participated and in the 2014 World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden where the Russians captured bronze.

The high-stakes game experience is important to Yakimov for a few reasons.

“It's so important because I'm not really sure if a lot of Russian guys have won the AHL cup. It's so important because a playoff game is such a different game.  You get so much experience in a playoff game. It's so tough, it's so tight everywhere.”

And if you had a question about whether he was a team player, unprompted, Yakimov dismissed his own personal success following a recent game, in which he had two goals.

“I scored, it's great, but it’s second. Most important was today, a win, he said. “There is not a big difference in points (in the AHL standings). So to score is not important for the team, just my statistics, so that's not important to me.”

Yakimov, a hulk of a player, was selected 83rd overall in the third round two years ago, and is already eclipsing other prospects in the system.  That in-house competition is good for the farm team as well as prospects, to push themselves to reach their full potential. That’s something Yakimov is taking full advantage of in his first professional hockey season.

Barons Player StatsAHL StandingsBarons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12


Stats Updated as of Wednesday, April 1, 2015  | * - Player on AHL contract with Oklahoma City Barons

Oklahoma City (AHL)


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
KEITH AULIE D 25 8 0 1 1 -6 0
BRANDON DAVIDSON D 23 52 4 6 10 +9 41
TRAVIS EWANYK F 21 64 3 4 7 -23 114
MATT FORD* F 30 61 17 30 47 -6 30
MARTIN GERNAT d 21 54 1 8 9 +1 32
LUKE GAZDIC F 25 5 2 0 2 -1 7
CURTIS HAMILTON
F 23 57 12 17 29 +2 36
RYAN HAMILTON
F 29 35 15 15 30 +13 9
JACKSON HOUCK
F 20 2 0 1 1 +1 0
BRAD HUNT D 26 54 16 29 45 -8 16
CONNOR JONES*
F 24 35 4 4 8 -6 16
KELLEN JONES*
F 24 41 5 9 14 -5 8
KALE KESSY
F 21 17 3 3 6 -7 61
JUJHAR KHAIRA
F 20 51 4 6 10 -7 62
OSCAR KLEFBOM   d 21 9 1 7 8 +10 4
ANTON LANDER
F 23 29 9 22 31 +8 20
KELLAN LAIN F 25 2 0 0 0 0 4
C.J. LUDWIG* D 24 23 1 4 5 -4 52
MARTIN MARINCIN
D 23 27 0 7 7 -4 20
ANDREW MILLER F 26 58 25 31 56 +12 14
MITCH MOROZ F 20 58 4 3 7 -12 151
DAVID MUSIL D 21 61 1 9 10 -1 33
JORDAN OESTERLE  D 22 58 7 16 23 -2 8
IIRO PAKARINEN F 23 39 17 11 28 +17 20
STEVE PINIZZOTTO
F 30 21 1 10 11 +4 76
TYLER PITLICK
F 23 14 3 6 9 +2 8
DILLON SIMPSON
d 21 63 2 14 16 +2 14
C.J. STRETCH*
F 25 15 2 5 7 -5 14
JASON WILLIAMS*
F 34 65 21 28 49 -11 26
BOGDAN YAKIMOV
F 20 57 12 16 28 +7 18
JOSH WINQUIST*
F 21 38 7 9 16 +5 13
Bakersfield (ECHL)
Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
GRAEME CRAIG* D 21 55 5 5 10 -13 53
CONNOR JONES* F 24 27 10 16 26 +3 29
KELLEN JONES* F 24 27 7 18 25 +3 12
C.J. LUDWIG* D 24 26 3 11 14 -7 21
JOSH WINQUIST* F 21 18 5 18 23 -6 11
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
BEN BETKER   d 20 64 6 25 31 +19 63 EVERETT (WHL)
2 0 0 0 +1 6 PLAYOFFS
GREG CHASE  C 20 15 2 13 15 +2 20 CALGARY (WHL)
46 18 26 44 +4 39 victoria (whl)
2 2 1 3 +4 0 PLAYOFFS
LEON DRAISAITL
f 19 32 19 34 53 +14 25 KELOWNA (WHL)
3 2 1 3 +4 0 PLAYOFFS
JACKSON HOUCK
f 19 65 22 29 51 -9 84 VANCOUVER (WHL)
DARNELL NURSE D 20 36 10 23 33 +18 58 SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)
3 0 0 0 +6 8 PLAYOFFS
KYLE PLATZER F 19 68 34 47 81 +13 46 OWEN SOUND (OHL)
3 1 4 5 +2 2 PLAYOFFS
MARCO ROY
F 20 59 26 24 50 +6 43 QUEBEC (qmjHL)
3 0 0 0 +1 2 playoffs
NCAA, Junior A & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   f 21 34 12 15 27 +7 29 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
LIAM COUGHLIN
F 20 54 20 40 60 0 31 VERNON (BCHL)
11 3 7 10 2 PLAYOFFS
WILLIAM LAGESSON
d 18 48 1 13 14 +16 77 DUBUQUE (USHL)
JOEY LALEGGIA  d 22 37 15 25 40 +14 56 DENVER (NCAA)
JOHN MCCARRON   f 22 31 4 8 12 -8 28 CORNELL (NCAA)
AIDAN MUIR   F 19 36 6 9 15 +8 4 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL F 20 38 8 14 22 +9 2 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK
f 23 53 18 13 31 -3 24 VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN
f 25 56 6 19 25 -22 34 YUGRA (KHL)
ANTON SLEPYSHEV
f 20 58 15 10 25 0 12 UFA (KHL)

5 0 2 2 0 PLAYOFFS
ANTTI TYRVAINEN
F 25 46 10 10 20 -2 89 TAMPERE (FINLAND)
DANIIL ZHARKOV
F 20 9 0 0 0 -1 4 NIZHNY NOVGOROD (KHL)
39 4 5 9 -11 22 HK SAROV (VHL)
1 0 0 0 0 0 Nizhny Novgorod (MHL)
3 1 0 1 +1 4 PLAYOFFS
2015 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
DARNELL NURSE
D 19 7 0 1 1 +8 6 CANADA
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 18 7 0 1 1 +1 8 SWEDEN
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T SO GAA SV% team
RICHARD BACHMAN   27 22 14 4 3   3 2.30 .921 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)
KEVEN BOUCHARD  18 36 15 13 5   1 3.85 .872 VAL D'OR (QMJHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 21 46 21 19 4   2 2.65 .915 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)
TYLER BUNZ   22 17 6 10 1   2 2.97 .890 wichita (ECHL)
ZACHARY NAGELVOORT
20 22 11 9 0   1 2.63 .906 MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TY RIMMER*
22 25 8 11 3   1 3.20 .889 BAKERSFIELD (ECHL)
Frans Tuohimaa   23 33 11 15 4   0 3.28 .876 BAKERSFIELD (ECHL)
3 2 0 1   0 4.22 .904 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)

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