Nail Yakupov leads all NHL rookies in scoring

Jonathan Willis
April 28 2013 01:14PM

For the second consecutive season, an Edmonton Oiler is tied for the rookie scoring lead in the NHL. This time, it’s Nail Yakupov, who scored a hat-trick in Edmonton’s final game to tie Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau with 31 points. Additionally, with 17 goals Yakupov sits alone at the top of the rookie goal-scoring charts.

The NHL’s schedule is almost finished, with Ottawa playing Boston tonight. The Senators’ Cory Conacher has 11 goals and 28 points, so with a four-point night he could move into the scoring lead, but right now the smart money is that Yakupov and Huberdeau will end up co-scoring leaders among rookies.

Yakupov’s Sensational Stretch

As Bob Stauffer points out this morning, Yakupov has been on an unbelievable tear of late, even as the team has (mostly) struggled around him.

Yakupov’s assist rate over both this most recent run and from the beginning of the year is basically unchanged; he posted 0.29 assists per game over his first 34 and 0.29 assists per game over his last 14. What has changed is his shooting – he’s gone from firing 1.4 shots per game to 2.4 shots per game. By eye he’s been a much better player all over the ice during this last stretch, and I think this helps confirm that in that he’s finally starting to generate shots in volume.

Also spiking was shooting percentage; after a 12.5 percent run over his first 34 games, he’s scored 11 times on 33 shots for a 33.3 percent shooting number. He’s now at 21.0 percent on the season, a number which is almost certainly too good to be true. However, the possibility at least should be considered that Yakupov could be a truly elite shooting percentage player (15.0%+) – we don’t have his shooting percentage from junior, but we know he was a better goal-scorer than Taylor Hall and a much better goal-scorer than Jordan Eberle at the same points in their careers. Of all the things that make Nail Yakupov a fantastic prospect, his shot stands out as something that is a high-end NHL weapon in the here and now; it’s just a matter of the rest of his game catching up to it.

Everything has been catching up; it’s a process but his growth as a player is undeniable. Criag MacTavish raved about his development on After Hours last night and particularly highlighted Yakupov’s willingness to put extra work in. That kind of skill married to that kind of work ethic make him a very special player.

Award Possibilities

Yakupov’s strong run over the late season has moved him into the conversation for the Calder Trophy. I think he ultimately finishes as a finalist rather than the winner simply because Jonas Brodin has been such a revelation on the Minnesota blue line. Over a full season, that might be different because the learning curve for Yakupov was steep in the early going and he hasn’t had a lot of time to make up for it, but over a shortened year I think he falls just short.

He should be on the all-rookie team, though. The three forwards on that squad will doubltess come from the group of six with 27+ points: Yakupov, Huberdeau, Conacher, Brendan Galalgher, Brandon Saad and Alex Galchenyuk. The defenders seem obvious – Brodin and Justin Schultz – and while there are three possibles for the goaltender honours Ottawa’s Robin Lehner seems the logical choice.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 Dog Train
April 28 2013, 08:49PM
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This is one of the most wide-open Calder races I can remember. My gut tells me that Huberdeau or Gallagher will win because of the Eastern bias that exists with the powers who vote for these awards. Oilers games are past their bedtim after all.

No other rookie captured the imagination of fans the way that Yakupov did this season. A strong case can certainly be made for Brodin to win the Calder but with Yakupov scoring the most goals and tying for most points coupled with the roll that he ended the season on, Yak would get my vote.

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#102 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 28 2013, 08:57PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Guy is a beast.Watch his off ice workouts- he is crazy intense. Focussed like a laser beam on becoming better. Natural gifts and single-minded about improving them -nice combination. He is a keeper- wasn't sure at first but now I believe he will be the best of the three #1s. And after watching Hall this season, that would be amazing.

Can't argue with that. Wouldn't that be sumfin.

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#103 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 28 2013, 09:17PM
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Now that the season's over. Oilersnation should wind the season up here as well. Get Gregor and Brownlee on here to have an no holds barred, airing of the grievances/slap fest for the boardies here, get things off our chest before the summer sets in.

Bloody Brownlee never nailed even one of his predictions this year, while Gregor must've been on some PED's or something. I'd like to take a poke at that Strudwick dude, work out some frustrations of the past season. Candy ashers, all of ya.

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#104 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 28 2013, 09:36PM
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michael wrote:

Romulus you need to get your head out of DSF's arse and stop thinking inside the box. We don't need a center. We have RNH, Hall, Horcoff and Lander. Notice how I put Hall at center. This is the year that I think the Oilers make the move of Hall from wing to center. I think Gagner is moved for a "potential" top 4 defenceman. I believe the Oilers will take a shot at Drouin. Failing that they will take a look at Monahan and Shinkaruck.

Ummm... what?

1. saying the Oilers need help down the middle is hardly a market cornered by DSF. read more widely.

2. If Hall moves to C, that solves a lot of problems. It's been debated here and elsewhere before and RK discussed it mid-year and said they would only do it starting from training camp... it's an interesting option.

3. the Oil have no shot at Drouin unless they win the lottery, in which case they probably take Jones or MacKinnon.

4. Lander is still not ready. he needs another full AHL year.

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#105 Erik
April 28 2013, 09:39PM
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DSF wrote:

Drouin?

How on earth could the Oilers get him?

The kid has 28 points in 12 playoff games so far.

I expect Florida will take him 1st overall while Colorado will have to "settle" for Seth Jones.

A line with Huberdeau and Drouin would be very scary.

If you want a small forward since Oilers don't have enough try Sven Andrighetto

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#106 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 28 2013, 09:39PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Guy is a beast.Watch his off ice workouts- he is crazy intense. Focussed like a laser beam on becoming better. Natural gifts and single-minded about improving them -nice combination. He is a keeper- wasn't sure at first but now I believe he will be the best of the three #1s. And after watching Hall this season, that would be amazing.

One of my favorite things about Yak is how excited he is to play hockey. before the games, when they aren't allowed to be on the ice... he's always lurking there mucking about.

this is one of my favorite moments all year:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/watch-yakupov-nails-pregame-trick-shot/

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#107 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 28 2013, 09:40PM
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Romulus' and Micheal, confirmed undercard combatants.

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#108 Dangilitis
April 28 2013, 09:45PM
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While I don't think it's right, everyone kept talking about Landeskog's +/- last year in their arguments for Calder on the media. Which is why I disagree that Schultz is assured of an all-rookie team nod. Lots of stuff about good attributes of Muzzin, Wierloch based on +/- metric, but didn't really watch much of them either. I didn't know that TOI was an indicator of how good a rookie defenceman is, but Dillon and Brodin are getting tons of credit for this (in spite of the fact that Schultz was similar in TOI and had worse partners than Brodin and Dillon - might I remind you of Nick and Ryan's play?). Schultz may not get in on pts alone is all I am saying, and I wouldn't be disappointed as an Oilers fan. I think he'll be better and ready for an 82 game season next year, as I have seen more than flashes of a burgeoning D-man with a complete skill set.

Similar people are using the +/- to argue Calder nominations for Saad and Gallagher. I have to admit I didn't watch much of either, but I hear that Gallagher and Galchenyuk helped stabilize the Canadiens and provided a wealth of secondary and unexpected offense. Saad, maybe I am making an unfair assumption here but given who the other forwards on his team are, were his pts due to better linemates and easier assignments?

I also think Yak was Calder worthy for the last 1/3 of the season, but I think the voters' minds were made up earlier and he wasn't really in the conversation then. It's hard to change your opinion in a shortened season. I would argue that Yak did better in the often useless +/- stat compared to Huberdeau, and had less TOI/game, with similar linemate quality. DSF's argument is useless as Huberdeau had 3 pts in a meaningless game as well. So if the argument is for a purely offensive demon, Yak should honestly get the nod over Huberdeau. More all-around game - no shame if it is lost to one of the Canadiens' double G's. Yak will be better than all of these players, including Galchenyuk. That's all that matters.

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#109 Death Metal Nightmare
April 28 2013, 09:47PM
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media hype = awards. applaud your own hype machine by handing out trophies to guys you favor because of bias. boring.

11 points wins a RoY of the year D award now? maybe they should give the Norris to Smid.

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#110 DSF
April 28 2013, 09:51PM
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Dangilitis wrote:

While I don't think it's right, everyone kept talking about Landeskog's +/- last year in their arguments for Calder on the media. Which is why I disagree that Schultz is assured of an all-rookie team nod. Lots of stuff about good attributes of Muzzin, Wierloch based on +/- metric, but didn't really watch much of them either. I didn't know that TOI was an indicator of how good a rookie defenceman is, but Dillon and Brodin are getting tons of credit for this (in spite of the fact that Schultz was similar in TOI and had worse partners than Brodin and Dillon - might I remind you of Nick and Ryan's play?). Schultz may not get in on pts alone is all I am saying, and I wouldn't be disappointed as an Oilers fan. I think he'll be better and ready for an 82 game season next year, as I have seen more than flashes of a burgeoning D-man with a complete skill set.

Similar people are using the +/- to argue Calder nominations for Saad and Gallagher. I have to admit I didn't watch much of either, but I hear that Gallagher and Galchenyuk helped stabilize the Canadiens and provided a wealth of secondary and unexpected offense. Saad, maybe I am making an unfair assumption here but given who the other forwards on his team are, were his pts due to better linemates and easier assignments?

I also think Yak was Calder worthy for the last 1/3 of the season, but I think the voters' minds were made up earlier and he wasn't really in the conversation then. It's hard to change your opinion in a shortened season. I would argue that Yak did better in the often useless +/- stat compared to Huberdeau, and had less TOI/game, with similar linemate quality. DSF's argument is useless as Huberdeau had 3 pts in a meaningless game as well. So if the argument is for a purely offensive demon, Yak should honestly get the nod over Huberdeau. More all-around game - no shame if it is lost to one of the Canadiens' double G's. Yak will be better than all of these players, including Galchenyuk. That's all that matters.

Who exactly is arguing for Huberdeau?

I'd vote for Galchenyuk...in a heartbeat.

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#111 Cheap Shot Charlie
April 28 2013, 09:53PM
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Sammy wrote:

"You can discount his performance in the last 2 games, and his skill is still apparent, especially when outperforming most of his team during a 6 game losing skid."

Are you kidding me Vancouver quit halfway through the 3rd period. It was not a NHL game

You didn't read the post right. nrXic said you CAN discount the last two games. That means you don't consider the last two games. When he said "outperformed most of HIS team" it means Yakupov played better than other Oilers, not the other team. Any comparison to the other team is invalid here.

Poor argument, poor post!

But DSF, hilarious for agreeing! Good one buddy!!! Well played scarcasim!!!

I love you, man! *HUG*

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#112 Walter Sobchak
April 28 2013, 10:03PM
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I was talking to my buddys at the fire hall and one of them made an outstanding observation.

Both the Hurricanes and Predators might be in a position to swap there picks, both might be looking for imidate help.

In fact had it not been for the Hurricanes goalies being injuried they may have been a playoff team.

The Predators are in a similar position, deep at center and might be looking for defensive help or help on the wings.

What we couldnt agree on was what player the Oilers would move plus the pick?

For the record I suggested Paajarvi and Gernat or Marincin plus the pick.

While a few mentioned Hemsky and Petry, which I thought was a huge overpayment , but they made a very interesting point, both Yakupov and from what the orginization has been saying about Klefbom, both are ready to assume big roles on the team.

Interesting conversation at any rate.

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#113 Jeffff
April 28 2013, 10:05PM
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Finally a good article regarding the Oilers by JASON GREGOR.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Gregor+improve+Oilers+MacTavish+make/8307482/story.html

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#114 StHenriOilBomb
April 28 2013, 10:07PM
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DSF wrote:

Who exactly is arguing for Huberdeau?

I'd vote for Galchenyuk...in a heartbeat.

Haha. Even the Habs fans and media here in Montreal don't think Galchenyuk deserves it over Galllagher, Hubs or even Nail.

What have you seen that they haven't?

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#115 Jeffff
April 28 2013, 10:08PM
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Jeffff wrote:

Finally a good article regarding the Oilers by JASON GREGOR.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Gregor+improve+Oilers+MacTavish+make/8307482/story.html

Kevin Lowe you got that

"The Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL since the season-long lockout of 2004-05. In the eight seasons since, they’ve only won 255 of 622 games. The organization likely doesn’t want to hear it, but the team’s on-ice performance has been worse than the New York Islanders (259 wins), Columbus Blue Jackets (262), Florida Panthers (266) and Tampa Bay Lightning (278)."

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#116 DSF
April 28 2013, 10:11PM
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Jeffff wrote:

Kevin Lowe you got that

"The Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL since the season-long lockout of 2004-05. In the eight seasons since, they’ve only won 255 of 622 games. The organization likely doesn’t want to hear it, but the team’s on-ice performance has been worse than the New York Islanders (259 wins), Columbus Blue Jackets (262), Florida Panthers (266) and Tampa Bay Lightning (278)."

But remember...it's all Slats fault :)

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#117 DSF
April 28 2013, 10:13PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

Haha. Even the Habs fans and media here in Montreal don't think Galchenyuk deserves it over Galllagher, Hubs or even Nail.

What have you seen that they haven't?

P/60 5V5

Galchenyuk - 2.76 (2nd among Habs forwards)

Gallagher - 2.67 (3rd among Habs forwards)

Conacher - 2.29 (1st among Senator forwards)

Zabinejad - 2.16 (2nd among Ottawa forwards)

Yakupov - 2.05 (3rd among Oiler forwards)

Huberdeau - 1.45 (5th among Panther forwards)

It's close enough that either of the Habs rookies would be a good choice.

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#118 morgie99
April 28 2013, 10:38PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Now that the season's over. Oilersnation should wind the season up here as well. Get Gregor and Brownlee on here to have an no holds barred, airing of the grievances/slap fest for the boardies here, get things off our chest before the summer sets in.

Bloody Brownlee never nailed even one of his predictions this year, while Gregor must've been on some PED's or something. I'd like to take a poke at that Strudwick dude, work out some frustrations of the past season. Candy ashers, all of ya.

Great idea!

just bar jasmine lol

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#119 The Worrier
April 28 2013, 10:52PM
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I think they should trade him to save Oilers fans anymore agony. I can see him holding out during bitter contract negotiations in a few years. This will be before the rebuilt Oilers win The Cup.

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#120 Dangilitis
April 28 2013, 11:14PM
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DSF wrote:

Who exactly is arguing for Huberdeau?

I'd vote for Galchenyuk...in a heartbeat.

http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/88125/huberdeau-gallagher-share-calder-poll-honors-for-march/

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=659231

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=664805

http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2013/4/22/4252184/nhl-calder-trophy-jonathan-huberdeau-jonas-brodin-brandon-saad

I know you would vote for Galchenyuk, which is what makes me think Gallagher must have been better...

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#121 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 28 2013, 11:35PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

Haha. Even the Habs fans and media here in Montreal don't think Galchenyuk deserves it over Galllagher, Hubs or even Nail.

What have you seen that they haven't?

That doesn't surprise me honestly.

Gallagher was playing up the depth chart for part of the year and definitely covered the "media profile" bet better than Galchenyuk.

If there was any justice in the world, they'd give it to Galchenyuk if they are going to give it to one of the Habs.

Gallagher is fun to watch and creates a lot of attention for himself, but Galchenyuk is going to define that team for the next decade.

I'm starting to think more and more that Saad's size and CHI profile will give him the edge if Yakupov doesn't win.

The shortened season makes this tough because these players would have separated a lot more given another 30 odd games.

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#122 Dangilitis
April 28 2013, 11:40PM
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DSF wrote:

P/60 5V5

Galchenyuk - 2.76 (2nd among Habs forwards)

Gallagher - 2.67 (3rd among Habs forwards)

Conacher - 2.29 (1st among Senator forwards)

Zabinejad - 2.16 (2nd among Ottawa forwards)

Yakupov - 2.05 (3rd among Oiler forwards)

Huberdeau - 1.45 (5th among Panther forwards)

It's close enough that either of the Habs rookies would be a good choice.

Just curious why this stat is so meaningful to you. PP skills don't count? Special teams are very important in the NHL nowadays.

What are the stats in 5vs4 P/60? Wiercioch 6.34 J Schultz 5.06 Huberdeau 4.87 Yak 4.2 Zibanejad 3.28 Conacher 3.21 Brodin 3.06 Saad 2.55 Gallagher 2.37 Galchenyuk 1.24

The argument that Yakupov didn't produce as well 5 vs 5 is a little misleading if you factor in his linemates for much of the year. Also, 5 vs 4 time is earned, and Yak and Schultz clearly earned it, whereas Gallagher and Galchenyuk didn't. Goals scored on PP still help win games, at least when I last checked.

Also look at Corsirelative: Gallagher + 16 vs Galchenyuk -5 (latter is similar to Yak). Wiercioch +16, Conacher -0.3.

Wiercioch looks like he had a fairly impressive season on paper.

Galchenyuk better P/60 5V5 compared to Gallagher 5 vs 5 overshadowed by clear superiority by Gallagher in other stats.

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#123 nrXic
April 29 2013, 12:20AM
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"Why do you think Yakupov is the best player?

Because he scored 4 more points with 3 of those coming during the final game of the season against the Chicago Wolves?

Hardly convincing evidence."

Both you and Sammy should learn to read more carefully, I clearly said:

"You can discount his performance in the last 2 games"

Read it again.

Sammy, did you get a chance to read it again as well?

Now consider that in the 10 games prior to that, where the Oilers went 1-9, that Nail was one of the better performers going 3-3-6 and sitting at minus-1 despite being outscored greatly as a team during that stretch.

Sorry for being harsh but not reading carefully and spouting off an irrelevant reply is one of my pet-peeves, and both of you did just that.

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#124 DonEnrico
April 29 2013, 04:21AM
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Quintana wrote:

Lindholm please!! with our 2nd Dela Rose, and with Anaheim 2nd pick a Golie......ala Detroit a swedish gang for the Oilers..

Yes! And bring Omark back!

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#125 madjam
April 29 2013, 06:31AM
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The most dynamic, impactful , promising and entertaining of the rookies , Yak should be poised to win the Calder . Will it be good enough to overtake Huberdeau ? Should be , but seems like he needs a clear gap to overtake an Eastern bias (familiarity being the key -especially this shortened year ).

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#126 j
April 29 2013, 08:22AM
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What's the 'over/under' that Yak slides across the stage on his knees when his name gets announced? Awesome.

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#127 Aspin
April 29 2013, 09:24AM
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@Jeffff

Keep in mind that this advice and these statements are coming from the guy, if he were GM would have traded one of the most dynamic young forwards in the game (Yak) for a second/third line grinder in Clarkson. NJ would have been laughing to the bank.

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#128 15w40
April 29 2013, 10:20AM
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@j

That slide and a few of his other cellys will probably cost him a shot at the calder.

I would say a lot of the hockey purists that are voting will consider that and respond punitively.

Yak would have had to have done better to be in consideration and blown the doors of the the rest of field to win.

I fear that a good majority of the voters will feel the need to "put him in his place" and let him know that that type of exuberance is simply not how "good hockey people" conduct themselves.

Too bad really.

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#129 nathan
April 29 2013, 08:25PM
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@Dangilitis

"Just curious why this stat is so meaningful to you."

It's meaningful to the resident cherry picker because he fell off the Tallon band wagon and onto the Bergevin truck.

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