Oilers Former First Round Pick Reveals Why He Failed In The NHL

Tyler Ball
September 6, 2023  (2:36 PM)

Nail Yakupov is a top contender for one of the biggest draft busts of all time in the NHL. He was billed to be a superstar for the struggling Edmonton Oilers but never lived up to the hype. Now Yakupov is speaking on his time in the NHL and why he might have failed.

Yakupov Speaks Out About Struggles In Edmonton

Nail Yakupov spent 6 seasons in the NHL 4 of which came with the Edmonton Oilers. During his time Yakupov was mostly disappointing and failed to live up to the lofty expectations set for him. Recently he joined the Dropping The Gloves Podcast hosted by John Scott to give his side of the story on his NHL career.
He first discusses his relationship or lack thereof with former Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. Yakupov seems to think Eakins is partially at fault for his lack of development while with the Oilers
I never learned how to play, he basically never teached me. The guy was just weird, I don't know.

This quote could explain part of Yakupov's lack of success. Eakins failed to develop several prospects during his time in Edmonton and even in his recent stint with the Anaheim Ducks. Of course, these comments come from Yakupov himself so there could be some inherent bias in them based on the outcome of his career.

Yakupov Struggles To Adapt To North America

Even though he had spent time in the OHL with the Sarnia Sting before being drafted Yakupov says he struggled to adapt to living in North America. The biggest barrier for him was his lack of English. This along with his shy personality led him to struggle connecting with teammates in the locker room.
Because my English wasn't really that good I didn't really talk to players in the locker room. I had English but I was shy to talk and hang out with the guys. I still had a lot of respect for the guys I had just been watching on the tv and now I was with them. It was hard for me to get closer to them I was shy I was shy all the time.

Even though he struggled to connect with the players in the locker room he was able to make some connections still. One player decided to take Yakupov under his wing and mentor him.
Darcy Hordichuk, that guy's a beauty. That guy gave me life man. He picked me up every day from the Sutton Place, I was driving with him and that's how I started talking a little bit and I didn't feel shy. I got really involved with Darcy, he's such a beauty man, he helped me a lot like he drove me everywhere, he was buying me food, he went shopping with me, buying me some shoes.

While Nail Yakupov didn't work out in the NHL it shows what kind of teammate Darcy Hordichuk was during Yakupov's tenure. It's always unfortunate to see such a talented player like Yakupov lose his way in the NHL. Now Yakupov is a veteran in the KHL who can potentially do for the next generation what Darcy Hordichuk did for him.
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Oilers Former First Round Pick Reveals Why He Failed In The NHL

Will Nail Yakupov ever return to the NHL?

Yes412.9 %
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