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New Oilers coach thinks Yakupov will be part of 2012-13 squad

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: Nail Yakupov, drafted first overall by the Edmonton Oilers, poses for a portrait during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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The Edmonton Oilers enjoyed immediate returns from former first overall picks Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger thinks Nail Yakupov will keep that streak alive, based on his interview with 630 CHED.

Krueger was also asked if Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz, a highly touted young defenseman that signed an entry-level contract with them as a free agent, would be used with the man advantage.

“They will be strongest, probably, in those [power play] situations early on,” Krueger said, as transcribed by the Edmonton Journal. “It’s the 5-on-5 game in the National Hockey League that truly tests young players – to find their way defensively first of all and then to create offensively is quite difficult when you’re new into the league.

“On the power play their skillset will have a little more time and space and they should be able to add to our power play strength immediately.”

He was also asked about the potential line combinations that the Oilers might employ - they will have the option to go with a top line composed entirely of first overall picks - but Krueger didn’t tip his hand.

Krueger is taking over an Oilers team that’s already spent several years rebuilding. They’re not at the stage yet where they’re a serious competitor, but they certainly have assembled an impressive core of young players.