|Posted on May 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM|
The Edmonton Oilers have looked to address their need for a powerful centre by signing Russian youngster Bogdan Yakimov on a three-year entry level contract. While Edmonton’s play-off absence shows no immediate sign of ending, according to http://www.bet365.com/news/en/betting, the Oilers management have made it clear they are determined to build a squad capable of ensuring the franchise has some solid foundations moving forward, and Yakimov will be hoping to play a part in those plans.
The 19-year old was selected 83rd overall by the Oilers in the 2013 Draft, going on to play 33 games in the KHL, recording 7 goals and 12 points in season long spell with home-town team Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik - a team which also produced Oilers star, Nail Yakupov’s.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound centre also had a brief spell with Reaktor Nizhnelamsk junior team, scoring four goals and six points in five regular-season games, as well as adding one assist in two playoff games. The powerful youngster also represented Russia at the 2014 World Junior Championship, recording a goal and an assist in seven games during the tournament.
As well as the obvious physical presence he brings to a team, Yakimov also possesses an ability to score goals as well as an effective power game that will see him add some much-needed options in this Oilers roster. Edmonton’s young forward group has needed some strength and power added to it for a while, and the roster has long needed some additional physicality to it.
While Yakimov’s numbers last season in Russia are solid if unspectacular, the youngster showed what he can do in an impressive showing at the 2012 Under-18 tournament, where he tied for the team lead in goals, points and shots with fellow Edmonton draft pick Anton Slepyshev, going 53.9 percent in the faceoff circle during the tournament.
Yakimov spent a brief period in the MHL during the 2012/2013 season before being promoted to Russia’s second-best league, the VHL. Following a slow start for Dizel Penza, recording nine points in 21 games, Yakimov caught the eye during the second half of the season after moving to Izhstal Izhevsk, scoring at a rate of almost a point-per-game. The centre won 56.3 percent of his faceoffs during that season, having the majority of his scoring success more through shooting volume rather than finishing ability – averaging 2.4 shots per game and finishing only 8.9 percent of his shots on goal.
While there’s no doubt the Oilers could do with a player of Yakimov’s frame right away, it looks likely that the 19-year old will spend at least next season with Nizhnekamsk in the KHL. In one of Europe’s toughest and most competitive leagues, Yakimov will most likely be tasked with proving himself as a KHL-calibre player and someone who could possibly make the step up into the NHL the following year. A successful year in Russia could be enough to convince the Oilers management that it is worth taking a risk and throwing the physically-imposing centre into the big time.