There weren't many St. Louis Blues fans who didn't buy into the buzz in seeing what Nail Yakupov could do in a more stable setting. It wasn't working in Edmonton, both on the ice and off. Sure he could score occasionally and at times, his name would pop up in the box score with an assist. His trade value was very low and the Oilers made the move on a player who just didn't want to be there.
The Blues seemed to be the perfect landing spot for the young Russian. He didn't need to be a top tier forward, just a supporting piece in the puzzle.
But things haven't gone as planned. Lately Yakupov has been a healthy scratch more often then not and when he is in the lineup, the winger has been a ghost. It's one thing to go cold when it comes to scoring, but a totally different thing when you can't put the puck on net. In the last three games Yakupov has played, the 2012 first overall pick has just one shot to his name.
To say things haven't gone well for Yakupov is an understatement. The talent is for sure there, but for whatever reason he can't seem to put it together.
Why are things not working for now his second NHL team? We really may never know.
The early season struggles don't look to be ending anytime soon either, both Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie are hungry to keep their heads above water. While the fourth line, well we can't give enough praise to Reaves, Brodziak, and Upshall on how great they have been playing. So that leaves Yakupov to battle for a top nine spot, a tall order to ask when he has struggled to find chemistry with any of his fellow players in blue.
It really is a shame when you take a good hard look at Yakupov. Here's a young player who was "overhyped" and drafted too high. That isn't his fault and not unlike other first overall picks, there is this stigma that they need to play in the NHL immediately. So not only was Yakupov struggling to getting used to living in such a large and intense hockey market, he was thrown into the ugly mess that was the Edmonton Oilers at the time.
So instead of Yakupov enjoying his second chance, the story seems to get worse as the games go on. The excitement surrounding him is long gone. You'd be hard pressed to come up with a solid argument to put him in the lineup. Hockey works in crazy ways though. Things can change on the fly. Come the postseason, we may be looking at a totally different player. If the Blues make the playoffs that is. Not unlike Yakupov, the team still has plenty of chapters to write this season. I'm not ready to bury Yakupov and you shouldn't either. Last time I checked he hasn't packed his bags and ran off to the KHL just yet.