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McKenzie: Yakupov ‘looking for a fresh start’

NHL: MAR 16 Maple Leafs at Oilers
(Icon Sportswire)

Bob McKenzie was on Montreal’s TSN 690 on Monday morning.

On Nail Yakupov’s trade request, and if the fact that the trade didn’t happen tells you that the Oilers think they should be getting a lot more than they were offered, and if the rest of the league thinks Yakupov is an under-achiever:

“Well, to a degree, yes. Although any deal that doesn’t happen at the deadline doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen at the draft. Deadline deals are often times really in the here and now. Somebody who trades for Nail Yakupov understands that the player they’re getting right now isn’t a fully-formed player, that they’re trading for potential and a lower-case reclamation project for a guy – a No. 1 overall pick – who hasn’t been as good as maybe we thought he was going to be. So just because it didn’t happen at the deadline doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen.

“That said, to your point, I do wonder a little bit if Nail Yakupov would be the centerpiece of any trade. That he might be a complementary piece in a package deal, as opposed to a one-off. But the one-off is not necessarily out of the question.

“He’s looking for a fresh start. Hey listen, some people are going to make a big deal out of the fact that he asked for a trade. The Oilers would have wanted to trade him anyway. Let’s not kid anybody.

“It also underscores a point that I’ve wondered about a number of times. How damaged are some of the players in Edmonton by what’s gone on there in the last number of years? Constantly revolving door of coaches, different systems, philosophies and what have you.

“Ultimately every player has to sort of bear responsibility for whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent. Most of the credit or blame for how a player players should fall to that player. But I also wonder with a guy like Justin Schultz, who got traded out of there, was playing horrible hockey, was a whipping boy – and rightfully so, based on his play – you wonder how much is the environment in Edmonton and all of this constant losing and upheaval. How much has it damaged individuals and people who have been there a number of  years? And how much of it is their responsibility, and how much is the organization’s responsibility, keeping in mind the organization is a bunch of different regimes that came and went.

“But I do wonder that sometimes, that are we properly evaluating or judging these players because the environment in which they’ve been is not conducive to development. You could point the finger at a lot of different players on that team that maybe aren’t as good as what we thought they were going to be.

“But there’s no question too that Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers need to make some big changes in the off-season, and Yakupov is bound to be one of them.”

Source: TSN 690/ Transcript: Nichols

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