Nail Yakupov’s story is quite well known. Edmonton’s first-overall pick in the 2012 draft, who started his career off right with 17 goals in a 48-game strike-shortened season, started a downward spiral that led to him getting traded to St. Louis and then finding himself getting benched and sitting in the press box not long after coach Mike Yeo took over. Now, signing a one-year “prove it” deal with the offensively challenged Colorado Avalanche, the 23-year-old is out to show that he still belongs in the NHL.
After that 17 goal season in 2012-13, his numbers tapered off, dropping to 11, then up to 14 and down to eight. His three goals in 40 games was a sign that he may be running out of time. However, according to AJ Haefele of BSN Denver, Yakupov is doing everything he can to resurrect his career in Colorado. “This is a chance I have to take,” the normally chatty Yakupov said succinctly.
Early reports say that Yakupov’s effort and skills are showing in training camp. During today’s scrimmage, BSN’s Adrian Dater tweeted that Yakupov was diving in front of pucks and showed his hunger. He had two assists in the scrimmage. The Avalanche need the youngster to rebound as the team finished last with 165 goals and managed just 48 points as a team. He is currently partnered with Matt Duchene and while that matchup is likely not going to stick, he looks like he is heading for regular minutes again.
- Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times writes that Tampa Bay veteran defenseman Anton Stralman missed his third straight practice today with an undisclosed injury, but he did skate and stickhandle on his own. The 31-year-old defenseman had a down year with just 22 points, but is still considered to be a top-pairing defenseman.
- Another defenseman who is also missing time is Buffalo’s Marco Scandella missed practice, according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. The 27-year-old blueliner, who came over from Minnesota this offseason had arthroscopic surgery on his left hip in May was forced to take a day off. After putting up 13 points in limited minutes with the Wild a year ago, the Sabres hope Scandella can take that next step this year.
- Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald writes that Curtis Lazar is ready to make the Calgary Flames roster. The 22-year-old center and former 2013 first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators had mononucleosis last year, missing all of training camp and the early part of the season and was never able to regain his form, prompting a trade from Ottawa to Calgary. According to Odland, he has regained the weight he lost from the illness and bulked up and has looked good in camp so far.