With the news of forward Nail Yakupov reportedly wanting out of Edmonton, there will be plenty of discussion around the quality of his linemates since his rookie season. Unfortunately for Yakupov, the Oilers have struggled to build a balanced roster with an NHL calibre defence, depth at center and good-to-average goaltending. Instead, Yakupov has seen his linemates and coaching staff change on a regular basis, leaving him and other prospects in a terrible predicament.
Things were looking up for Yakupov when he found some excellent chemistry with Connor McDavid and Benoit Pouliot earlier this season, but he found himself playing predominantly in the bottom six after returning from injury. The offence has dried up for Yakupov, which has become an issue pretty much ever year since he was drafted in 2012.
Below is every line combination Yakupov has been a part of (minimum of 60 minutes played at 5v5), along with the line's share of shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, shots on goals, and goals. I've also included the team's shooting and save percentage when the lines listed below are on the ice to provide some context. Please note that I sorted the table by goals-for percentage (GF%), but you can sort it however you wish by clicking the column title. The data below has also been score, venue and zone adjusted using Corsica Hockey's methodology. (Data source: Corsica Hockey).
|Year||Player 1||Player 2||TOI||CF%||Rel CF%||FF%||Rel FF%||SF%||Rel SF%||GF%||Rel GF%||Sh%||Sv%||PDO|
Since joining the league, Yakupov's five most common centermen at 5v5 have been Sam Gagner (596:14), Derek Roy (534:15), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (426:05), Mark Arcobello (296.34) and Mark Letestu (215:51). (Source: Hockey Analysis). Not the strongest group of pivots considering some were almost rookies when Yakupov played with them and others aren't even in the NHL as regulars today. What can't be overlooked is the fact that Yakupov also played with some pretty good, top six, wingers like David Perron, Ales Hemsky and Benoit Pouliot over the years.
Yakupov's best production came on a line with Arcobello and Perron, with whom he played 86 minutes with at 5v5 last season, posting a 51.96% share of all on-ice shot attempts, and a goals-for percentage of 61.20%. Arcobello was of course dealt away mid-season in 2014/15 for Derek Roy, who some perceived as a positive influence on Yakupov, but the numbers don't really show it here.
The pair along with Teddy Purcell played over 300 minutes at 5v5 (the most minutes Yak has played with) and posted a paltry CF% of 47.54%, which was better than the rest of the lineup, but they only had 40.07% share of all of the goals they were on the ice for. Yakupov and Roy didn't do any better with Pouliot as the wing as the trio posted a weak 41.76% possession rating, and only got 40.08% of the total goals they were on the ice for.
Another thing to consider is how Yakupov's most common linemates do with him and without him when it comes to possession (Source: Corsica Hockey).
Here we see that Yakupov's teammates, between 2012 and now, tend to do better when it comes to the share of total shot attempts away from the young winger (red dots). In fairness to Yakupov, his numbers are better this year, but it remains to be seen if they are sustainable going forward. Unfortunately, it appears that if he does turn the corner and take the next step in his career, it likely won't be in Edmonton.