It's been a long time coming but finally Nail Yakupov will get to make an impression at the Edmonton Oilers training camp.
The lockout-shortened 2013 season will provide the Edmonton Oilers with some unique obstacles that the team must overcome in order to be successful this season.
While Adrian Dater of Sports Illustrated may have the team ranked third on his NHL Power Rankings, it has yet to be seen who will be on the team, and how well they will perform once the puck drops.
While the team may not live up to those lofty expectations, the additions of Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov should make the Oilers more competitive.
Here are the five biggest questions surrounding the Edmonton Oilers training camp.
Krueger will have limited time to evaluate and set the tone during a shortened training camp
Ralph Krueger may be new as a head coach, but he isn’t new to the Edmonton Oilers. This promotion from within may ease the transition during the abbreviated 2013 training camp.
As players try to establish rapport with the new bench boss, Edmonton defensemen will already be quite familiar with Krueger and his expectations from his time as the Oilers' defensive coach last season.
With the Oilers being such a young team, it is paramount that the players become acclimated to Krueger’s system and coaching style as quickly as possible.
It's safe to assume that the top line will feature Hall,Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins but after that things get interesting.
It’s safe to say that the top line for the Oilers going into the 2013 season will be the same trio that terrorized the AHL during the lockout.
The combination of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle paid immediate dividends for the Oklahoma City Barons during the work stoppage, and the chemistry developed there should translate to a fast start once the NHL season begins.
The Oilers' second unit will also feature a lot of firepower and should see Nail Yakupov share a line with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky.
Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff comprise two-thirds of what should be a very decent third line (considering both were once first-line Oilers), who can more than share the load as a shutdown line with reliable defensive zone play.
Magnus Paajarvi would be a strong addition to this line, but it is unclear whether the Swede will stick with the big club after his recent call-up from the AHL.
Mark Fistric was a good addition by the Oilers and should make for some interesting defensive pairings.
The Oilers made a very solid addition by acquiring former first-round draft pick Mark Fistric from the Dallas Stars for a third-round pick in the 2013 entry draft.
Fistric is a big defenseman who brings a tough, physical presence to the Oilers and should slot in nicely as the sixth defenseman. This likely means the end of the road for Theo Peckham, but Fistric represents a nice upgrade.
Who Fistric partners with will be one of the larger decisions made during the training camp.
It will be interesting to see if head coach Krueger pairs him with the offensive-minded Justin Schultz or creates a defensive shutdown tandem with Fistric and Nick Schultz.
Could this be Shawn Horcoff's final season as Oilers captain?
While it is unlikely that Ralph Krueger will force Shawn Horcoff to relinquish his captaincy, the Oilers' new bench-boss is likely to select one or two new faces to be assistant captains for the 2013 season.
With each team having two amnesty-clause buyouts, the fact that Horcoff represents a $5.5 million salary cap hit could lead the Oilers to buy out their captain, creating a vacancy.
Jordan Eberle is a likely candidate to succeed Horcoff, as the talented winger wore an ‘A’ during his stint with the Oklahoma City Barons during the lockout.
Krueger will likely designate his leadership roles after the short training camp ends.
Is Khabibulin ready to be a backup?
For the Oilers, the fact that their top line, and three of their brightest stars, decided to play together in the AHL during the lockout may turn out to be huge. Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins should be in mid-season form thanks to their stint in OKC.
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk didn’t play regularly during the lockout but performed amazingly for Team Canada during the Spengler Cup.
Coach Krueger will have to monitor Dubnyk; the increased workload as the Oilers' new No. 1 goaltender, as well as a compacted season, could wear the goalie down quicker than anticipated. Krueger will have to see during the lockout if Nikolai Khabibulin is able to step up the intensity and provide a solid veteran backup.
While most of the young Oilers played either in the AHL or in Europe, most of the veterans stayed in North America and saw limited ice time, so Krueger will have to use this week to ramp up the intensity and see where the conditioning levels are at with his older players.