Western Conference Training Camp Surprises

Doran Libin


Six Western Conference training camp surprises with fantasy implications


With all the preseason games having come to an end and the last cuts happening the opening day rosters are coming into focus. As always there will be surprises and players no one expected to have an impact will suddenly become relevant. In something of a continuation of the training camp battles column from last week this week the focus will be on some of the last-minute decisions made recently.


Nail Yakupov

Nail Yakupov had one good year in Edmonton, his first, when he averaged 0.65 points per game overall and more than two points per 60 minutes at even strength. That was also the only year in which he regularly played with top end, since then his linemates have been a collection of second or third tier options. In 2013/14 his most common linemate was Sam Gagner, in 2014-15 it was Derek Roy and Teddy Purcell while last year it was Mark Letestu. Last year before McDavid’s, he and Yakupov had some impressive chemistry together, Yakupov then got bumped for Eberle when McDavid returned to the lineup. He never got another shot with McDavid again. Yakupov’s prospects on the third line in St. Louis are better than they were on the third, or worst case fourth line, in Edmonton. In St. Louis he looks set to play with Patrik Berglund and Dmitrij Jaskin before Jaden Schwartz returns. David Perron or Schwartz would replace Jaskin upon Schwartz’s return. That is encouraging given Yakupov’s success with upper echelon talent as well as the 2.5 goals per 60 minutes the Oilers scored in the 285 minutes he played with Perron in Edmonton. Yakupov is potentially problematic defensively under Ken Hitchcock but it is better than being in Edmonton and never given another shot.



In Edmonton there is no huge change based on the Yakupov trade although it does open up a potential spot for Drake Caggiula, although any fantasy relevance would depend on where he ended up in the lineup. Based on the success Yakupov with those linemates the degree to which Caggiula would have success needs to be questioned, but not having the baggage there that Yakupov does should help him. The problem for Caggiula is that if he plays the same minutes, or role, that Yakupov played he is at best a 30 point forward. His most common linemates from the preseason suggest that a similar pattern of usage is on the plate for Caggiula. He played primarily with Pat Maroon and Kris Versteeg as well as various others who will not make the team. The one line combination that holds some promise is when he played between Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic except that he w