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04-11-2013, 10:45 AM
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McJadeddog
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Yakupov: something positive

So this place is almost unbearable to come to lately, with the realization of another season without playoffs causing many of us to go into full panic mode. I would argue that not making the playoffs and finishing where we are right now (22nd in the league) was the expected outcome, but that is a different thread.

This thread is about the vastly improved play of Yakupov in the last half of the this season. Here are his season splits through 40 games.

First 20 GP:
6 G, 6 A, 12 P, -9, 34 shots

Last 20 GP:
4 G, 7 A, 11 P, 0, 26 shots

I did not figure out ice time, as I'm lazy, but it was pretty much the same for the splits, at around 15 mins/game. He is not getting a huge push on the PP though, as he is 9th overall in PP/GP among regular players (Arcobello was higher in his 1 GP). He's playing exactly what you would expect being on the 2nd PP unit.

So although the scoring numbers are about the same for the splits, there has been a huge improvement in his +/-. This lines up with how he looks by simply watching him play. The overly-fancy moves and odd passes seem to occur less often, the simple play is made more often and he is generally looking more and more like a "pro player". His defense has improved and his physical game has become a lot more prominent. I would go so far as to say his compete level is right up there with Hall's, and that is a very large compliment. These "intangibles" have shown up in his +/-. Although his increased playing time with more responsible defensive players can't be overlooked, and his move from Gagner's line to Horcoff's line will explain some of the improvement.

He is 3rd in NHL rookie scoring, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he was a Calder finalist. All in all, he is having a rookie season very comparable to Hall's rookie campaign, and actually brings a bunch of the intangibles that were evident in Hall during his rookie year as well. The crazy thing about Yakupov is that he is *nowhere near* a finished product at this point, he is still very raw. Much more so than Hall was at the same age. Yakupov with 2-3 years more physical maturing and NHL experience is going to be a force, that should be clear by now.

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