By James Pavel
Unforced errors, lackluster back checking, and the ability to go invisible for an entire 60 minutes are traits that have come to define no. 64 in Oil City.
The 2014-2015 season has vividly demonstrated that Edmonton Oiler forward Nail Yakupov is the most over-rated and grandest bust of the first overall decisions made over the past ten years.
The Oilers organization have managed to sink to the bottom of the West once again, a stat almost as incredible as Detroit’s ability to make the playoffs for 23 straight seasons. The Oilers seem poised to tank for rumoured super-kid Connor McDavid especially since it is painfully obvious that their first overall selection in 2012 was a dreadful error.
Yakupov currently has 10 points this season but the number may as well be in the negatives. He has been a glorified Soviet pylon all season and has only made an impact when he commits a defensive blunder to the benefit of the opposition, which seems to happen on a bi-nightly basis.
When compared with the other first overall choices of the past decade, one begins to quickly recognize just how underwhelming this Russian ghost has been.
Since 2005, the first overall selections have been: Crosby, Johnson, Kane, Stamkos, Tavaras, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, MacKinnon, and Aaron Ekblad. While Ekblad has not had sufficient time to prove himself,the only player that comes close to the anti-climatic performance of Yak is Erik Johnson of the Colorado Avalanche. That said, Johnson plays an important role on the Avs blue line and with top tier back-end players at an all-time premium, he is certainly fulfilling a vital requirement.
Where does Yak fit? He has yet to gel with the Nuge and Taylor Hall and placing him on a line with David Perron has resulted in sub-zero chemistry.
Yak isn’t just stagnant, he appears to actually be digressing as a player. While rookies can often undergo a sophomore slump, the third season is where future stars begin to glisten.
But Nail has not glistened – No, he has rusted like an old pick-up truck. When he is not completely absent, he is missing the net by 20 miles or begin caught horribly out of position. He has unwillingly surrendered the skills he demonstrated in his junior career and seems destined for Alexandre Daigle status.
Current rookies and second-year first overall picks have already rocketed past him in terms of value. Yak has performed so poorly that he is currently untradable. What could the Oilers possibly get for him? Another draft pick? That would be borderline insanity. Of course the way the Oiler management has operated over the past seven years, madness may be the only solution.