Nail Yakupov Leading Edmonton Oilers in Right Direction

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It has been quite a while since the Edmonton Oilers have been a team that looks ready to make a run towards a Stanley Cup. The team benefited from a few No. 1 overall picks in the NHL Draft and could be on the verge of finally becoming the team everyone remembers from a few decades ago. It all begins with the team’s No. 1 pick from last season, Nail Yakupov.

If you want to find a player who ended his rookie season with a burst, it was Yakupov. He scored six goals in his final five games including five of those in the last two games. Yakupov even threw in a hat trick on the final day of the season. He ended up being the team leader in goals scored with 17 and finished with 31 points in 48 games. I know it wasn’t a full 82-game schedule that he had to go through, but there is something to finishing the season like that.

He may have struggled during the early part of the shortened season, but I liked what I saw to end the year. Edmonton could have something there with the combination of Yakupov and Taylor Hall. It has been a long time coming for the fans of the Oilers as they haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2005-06 season when they were one win away from the Stanley Cup. I think that Yakupov could be the player that begins the team’s rebound back towards that level. It may not be next season, but watch out within two or three years for the Oilers.

Andy Schmidt is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ASchmidtSports, like his Facebook page or add him to your network on Google.

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