NHL rumors: Oilers coach says Nail Yakupov rumors '100 percent untrue'

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

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With the season going south for both the Edmonton Oilers and former No. 1 overall draft pick Nail Yakupov, the second-year player's name has popped up a few times in some trade speculation across the Internet. Most recently his name was being connected with the New York Rangers.

Part of the reason why Yakupov's name has been thrown around has not only been his and the team's struggles (he only just three points in 14 games this season) but his supposed "uncoachability" and his defensive deficiencies. Those were the reasons why perhaps the Oilers might have soured on the potential star.

The only problem is that Yakupov isn't available according to Oilers coach Dallas Eakins. He let Yakupov know he has nothing to worry about and then told the media on Wednesday in Tampa in pretty clear language.

For the video impaired, here's the crux of Eakins' thoughts on Yakupov and trade talk, starting a little more than a minute in to the video above.

"The thing with Yak is simple. I see him trying so hard to be better defensively and to learn this defensive system that we're trying to implement. I thought he made a couple of good plays defensively yesterday. I saw the thought process go through his head on the ice so that's encouraging for me.

"And then wanted also to let him know all these reports in the media where people are making up trades for him are absolutely, 100 percent untrue. This kid is not going anywhere. Guys like Joe Thornton, the kid here Stamkos; those guys struggled early in their careers and boy they turned out to be pretty good players.

"Nail Yakupov is not being shopped, he's not going anywhere and I wanted him to hear that from me, look me in my eyes and let him know 'hey, we're attached at the hip.' We're going to make him a better player and it's OK to struggle. I let him know about Thornton and and Stamkos. That's part of the process. He's 20 years old. We're not just going to suddenly give up on a guy because he's going through a rough stretch. People writing their columns and their blogs; listen, they can create their excitement that way. But all of what's out there is 100 percent untrue."

That doesn't exacly sound like a coach ready to say good bye to a top prospect now, does it?

The trade speculation around Yakupov has been relatively consistent but honestly it never seemed to make a ton of sense. Yakupov still has plenty of superstar potential as he's just 20 years old and has plenty of cost control left in terms of contract as well. It never made much sense and now with Eakins coming out so clearly perhaps it will put a damper on the speculation moving forward. Then again, probably not.

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