It's Yakupov's first scratch in the NHL after playing in all 48 games for Edmonton last year in his rookie season. The young Russian led the team with 17 goals and caused a stir with his wild goal celebrations early in the year.
But the Oilers are off to a disappointing 1-3 start in 2013-14 and Yakupov's struggles have played a role in that. Yakupov has zero points and is a minus-3 so far, and the benching seems to have been coming for a while now. Yakupov played only 12 shifts in Thursday's 4-1 loss to Montreal. Afterwards, coach Dallas Eakins said his star winger "was out of sorts all night." Eakins seems to be setting a precedent for his young team: earn your playing time, whether you're a star player or not. Yakupov wasn't doing that, and so he'll watch from the press box on Saturday.
Winger Jesse Joensuu will replace Yakupov in the lineup, having fully recovered from a sore back.