St. Louis Blues Scratch Forward Nail Yakupov Against Buffalo Sabres

It’s starting to become a regular headline seeing the once 1st overall pick as a healthy scratch in St. Louis. After only playing 7 minutes and change in what could only be described as an embarrassing 8-4 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues forward, Nail Yakupov will once again be watching from the press box.

“Yak got out of sorts positionally, and we needed to grab it back,” Hitchcock said. “That’s the best way to describe it.”

Is Nail Still Experiencing Growing Pains?
After playing 13 games through the 2016-17 season, the 23 year old has only found the back of the net twice and assisted on two other occasions. The Blues Top 9 remains an ever rotating shift of players between Yakupov, Ty Rattie, Dmitrij Jaskin, and on occasion, Scottie Upshall. Though a learning curve to a two-way, 60 foot game still needs to be learned from Yakupov, he insists that he knows how to play the game.

“I’m not learning, we’re not in school like 11 years and learn how to play hockey,” Yakupov said. “It’s not a hard game. It’s a smart game, but it’s not hard. If you’re not stupid, you understand how to play this game. Obviously every coach has a different system. (But) in this world and this league right now, the way teams play, it’s all about fast, and it’s all about how we’re going to get the puck back. It wasn’t really hard for me to get the system. It was a couple of days hard because I just got to know where I’m going, then I get it and now I know how to play the system. It’s easy, I know how to play and I know what game to play.”

What Needs to Change?
Yakupov will be a healthy scratch for the fourth time in six games. This should not be just an alarming fact for the Blues staff and fans, but for his teammates as well. NHL fans have been able to see flashes of Yakupov’s brilliance with the puck. There is no doubting he has talent. Yakupov’s young career certainly proves that more time in the CHL / AHL could have done him a lot of good before being bumped to the big club. However, he’s here and by placing him on waivers for the AHL would all but seal his claim from another squad.
Continuously Healthy scratching Yakupov will not solve his in game mishaps. At this point in time, Blues General Manager, Doug Armstrong, and Head Coach(s) Ken Hitchcock and Mike Yeo need to come up with a plan in order to save this young man’s career. By placing him with a veteran forward on the squad, be it Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, even Ryan Reaves, Nail gains a chance to learn how to play NHL hockey. By placing him in ‘intensive care’ with one of these three forwards, Nail has the opportunity to grow and succeed for the St. Louis franchise and be the offensive standout that he has the talent to be.