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Oilers' Yakupov says he deserves more playing time

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TSN.ca Staff
11/12/2013 3:16:54 PM
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Nail Yakupov feels he's being treated unfairly by the Edmonton Oilers and thinks he deserves more playing time.

"I just want to help, just want to have fun, just want to play," Yakupov told reporters on Tuesday. The first overall pick from 2012 added that head coach Dallas Eakins doesn't trust him and something needs to be done.

While Yakupov's agent Igor Larionov told The Edmonton Sun that if the Oilers had a problem with his client, he would be open to a trade, the 20-year-old said he was committed to Edmonton.

"I just want to help my team win every game," Yakupov said, adding it is hard watching from the bench. "I love this city and I want to play for this team."

Eakins told reporters on Tuesday that he's liked Yakupov's effort as of late and understands his frustration, but said all of his players must earn their ice time.

"I like the kid," he said. "He's a passionate kid who works hard and still has a lot to learn about the game."

Larionov still plans to meet with team brass - including Eakins - to discuss Yakupov's role with the team. "Many players who are 20 go through periods of not getting points and not playing their best hockey," Larionov told The Edmonton Sun. "Nail needs to go out and play his normal game and at the same time work on improving all areas of his game.

"It would be a shame after 16 games he wasn't getting that kind of support. The kid needs a break, needs to be able to do his thing. He needs to play 18 minutes and get his power play time. The defence will come."

Eakins essentially ruled out trading the winger last week.

"Nail Yakupov is not being shopped, he's not going anywhere," Eakins told The Edmonton Journal. "I wanted him to hear that from me, to look in my eyes, and let him know we're attached at the hip. We're going to make him a better player and it's ok to struggle."

After scoring 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games his rookie season, Yakupov has been held to just two goals and four points through 17 games this year.

Nail Yakupov (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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