February 26, 2013
Oilers working to turn Nail Yakupov into complete NHLer

Nail Yakupov has a knack for providing highlight goals. Unfortunately, he's also been know to offer up some boneheaded giveaways. (Codie McLachlan/QMI Agency)

EDMONTON - Whether he’s unleashing a one-timer reminiscent of a young Mike Bossy, or throwing soft, aimless passes across his own zone to nobody in particular, Nail Yakupov is never boring.

His bullet to tie it in Chicago Monday night was All World. The mind-boggling giveaway in the second period of the same game was straight out of junior.

“My bad,” shrugged the Russian rookie, who’s contending for the Oilers lead in goals (6), as well as for the worst plus minus (-9) on the Oilers.

“He’s a big, exciting project,” head coach Ralph Krueger said of the best shot on the team. “We’re all watching Yak grow up in front of our eyes.”

That you sometimes have to shield those eyes when he’s out there is all part of the process. Too gifted to sit when the Oilers need a goal and sometimes too dangerous to play when they can’t afford to give one up, finding Yakupov ice time is a daily puzzle in a league where almost every game is decided by one goal.

Play him in the top six a