Who Wore It Best: Number 64

When it comes to #64 there has been only one and it took more than 20 years to get that. Of course it’s Nail Yakupov.

Yak scored prolifically everywhere he went before getting drafted by the Oilers #1 overall in 2012. Then he stopped. Other than his rookie season he’s never come close to even a half point per game. After 4 lackluster seasons in Edmonton they traded him to St Louis where of course they tried to make him a grinder then just stopped playing him at all. The Avs saw an opportunity last summer and decided to go for it. Yak signed a 1-year show-me contract at league minimum.

Coach Bednar knew Matt Duchene wasn’t long for the Avs but he took advantage of his presence early by making an offense-only line with Dutch, Yak and rookie Alex Kerfoot. Yakupov responded with 3 goals and 2 assists in the first 4 games, or nearly a third of his season total. Joe Colborne nodded his approval. He added another couple of points before Dutch was traded then the staff had some decisions to make. They settled him into a role on PP2 and energy on the 4th line. That lasted a month then the healthy scratches began.

It’s pretty surprising he played as much as he did. It took until early March before the staff threw in the towel completely. He played 3 games down the stretch and didn’t dress against the Preds in the playoffs. From the time Matt Duchene was traded he had 10 points in 45 games. He had 4 points on the PP all year with the final one coming against the Wild on January 6th. He had amazing shot rates, 32.59 CF/60 and 17.12 SH/60 on the PP but couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. His shooting percentage was higher than only Colin Wilson out of the forwards with significant PPTOI.

Final tally for Yak was 58 games, 9 goals and 7 assists in burgundy & white. I think he was a good guy to have on the team but probably not the right fit for the Avs. He’s gone to Russia and had a goal in his first game for SKA St Petersberg, so good for him.

earl06

Scoring LW, punchy climber for the Ardennes classics, spirit guide

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