Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins told media on Wednesday that the team had no intentions of trading struggling forward Nail Yakupov.
"All of what's out there is 100 per cent untrue," the first-year coach told reporters outside of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the Oilers - last in the Western Conference - play the Lightning on Thursday night.
Eakins felt it necessary to personally inform the second-year player that rumours he might be hearing about his impending move from the Alberta capital hold no weight.
“Nail Yakupov is not being shopped," said Eakins. "He's not going anywhere and I wanted him to hear that from me and look me in my eyes and let him know that, hey, we're attached at the hip. We're going to make him a better player and it's okay to struggle.”
In 14 games this season, Yakupov, the first-overall pick in the 2012 draft, has just one goal, after posting 17 in last year's shortened season.
In Tuesday's overtime win against the Florida Panthers, the Russian played a scant three minutes in the thrid period and overtime.
Still, Eakins looks to past players who had high expections thrust upon them and didn't live up to them early on.
“Guys like Joe Thornton, the kid, here, [Steven] Stamkos," said Eakins, whose Oilers are 4-10-2. "Those guys struggled early in their careers and boy, they turned out to be pretty good players. He's 20-years old and we're not just going to give up on a guy because he's going through a rough stretch."
After Thursday night's game in Tampa Bay, the Oilers head to Philadelphia on Saturday to take on the equally flagging Flyers.