Nail Yakupov's progress has impressed Oilers coach Ralph Krueger.
The Oilers have been trying to turn Yakupov into a more complete player by putting an emphasis on his defensive game. "There are a few things that happen if we go back 11 games and one of them was definitely Nail growing up in such a quick period of time," Krueger said. "He's very responsible without the puck, you can see him making strong decisions, he was the first forward back on multiple occasions (Monday). He plays physical, takes multiple responsibilities defensively. He's been getting smarter with the puck and more patient. He's understanding the difference between simple plays versus opportunity and that's all showing up. We're excited for a kid that age, what he's done here in these two and a half months, it certainly shows us that we have an exciting future with Nail." The rookie scored his seventh goal and registered his 11th assist in his 35th game on Monday.