RNH can relate to sophomore-jinxed Oilers

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov look on during a game January 20, 2013. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov look on during a game January 20, 2013. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:46 PM ET

EDMONTON - Back at training camp, Nail Yakupov had never heard of such a thing as a sophomore jinx. There is no such thing in Russia.

Now he knows.

At least he has company.

Justin Schultz has doubled down.

They’re slithering along like a couple of snakes in wagon wheel ruts.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can relate.

He knows what Schultz and Yakupov are going through because he went through it last year.

In their rookie year, coaches usually find a way to play their 18-year-old, first-round No. 1-overall draft picks in what they call soft minutes.

In the second season it’s a different deal.

“It’s different your second season, because your role changes,” said Nugent-Hopkins of increased ice time, more prominent role, more responsibilities especially outside of the player’s comfort zone, greater expectations and far more frustration.

Exactly, said coach Dallas Eakins.


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