Nail Yakupov: ‘The time is now’ for Edmonton Oilers

Of course, Yakupov knows exactly how good the Oilers’ first-round pick is, and he’s ready to help the young phenom excel in his first year in the NHL.

“There is going to be a lot of pressure on him,” said Yakupov, who was in Edmonton at the time of the fateful draft lottery and saw the excitement in Edmonton first-hand. “As a team, we have to give him support and help him out. It doesn’t matter how good he’s going to be, he won’t be able to do it on his own. He’ll be part of a team, he won’t have to do everything by himself on the ice. We have another 22 guys that will work hard to try and make our team better. We’re going to try and help him be comfortable on the team.”

After a difficult few years, Yakupov is excited about the new faces in Edmonton — and he’s ready for the challenges that come with it.

“Every year is really important, but this season is a big one,” he said. “The time is now and we have to do everything we can to make our team better. Our job is to try to get in the playoffs — that’s what we have to do.”

Last season, Yakupov finished with 14 goals and 33 points in 81 games, but finished strong with 21 points in his final 31 games.


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