2012 Draft Prospect Profile #1: Nail Yakupov

Position: RW
Age: 18
Date of Birth: October 6, 1993
Place of Birth: Nizhnekamsk, Tartarstan (Russia)
HT: 5' 11" WT: 167 lbs.
Shoots: Left

2011-2012 Regular Season Stats:













2012 OHL Playoff Stats:













The consensus top skater in the 2012 NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting, ISS, and most hockey pundits, Yakupov was the anticipated silver lining to a wretched season for nearly every fan of a struggling team, but particularly in Columbus, where the "Fail for Nail" phrase was coined.

So, of course, Edmonton won the lottery. And now he's campaigning for them to take him with the #1 pick rather than looking at a player like d-man Ryan Murray. Ouch.

Yakupov has been one of the top players in the OHL since coming over from Russia (including winning the CHL rookie of the year award), has dedicated himself to learning the North American style of hockey, and has been vocal about his desire to make it to the NHL and succeed. He's been compared to Ovechkin quite a lot, but I see him as more of a Stamkos type player. He'll get physical when it's appropriate, but he's more of a sniper and explosive speed demon than power forward.

Scouting Report:

An extremely skilled winger, Yakupov is the hottest thing to come out of Russia since Alex Ovechkin and is already drawing comparisons to the superstar. He showed no signs of a tough adjustment to major junior, becoming just the fifth rookie in fifteen years to earn over 100 points. Elite skill on offense make up for some defensive shortcomings and size is a factor, though he has at least a year or more to fill out his frame and grow. All in all a possible future superstar.

-Bek Aliev, MyNHLDraft

The 18-year-old Russian is the biggest game-breaker in this draft and plays a very similar style to Taylor Hall only with more physicality away from the puck. Yakupov is a phenomenal skater and his ability to use his speed while creating offense is unparalleled in this draft class. Projecting as a dynamic top-line forward, the only real concern with Yakupov lies in his stature and determining whether or not his body will be able to hold up with his style of play at the next level.

The Scouting Report

Why He'd Be A Good Fit In Columbus:

With the Jackets looking down the barrel of trading Rick Nash this summer, Yakupov would provide game breaking skill and offensive ability at an equal level. Perhaps even higher, given that I'm not sure the team has ever had a player with his level of skill and explosive speed. (Nash is, for lack of a better word, a freight train - nothing stops him once he gets going, but at times he needs room to get rolling...) A top six that combined Yakupov, Cam Atkinson, Ryan Johansen, and Derick Brassard would finally have the exceptional offensive speed and dangerous scoring ability that we've seen burn our own goaltenders time and time again. The only real questions are his durability (he seems to have no long term ill effects from his knee injury at the World Juniors or the concussion he suffered late in the OHL season), and his size, but let's face it - nobody in the NHL gives Steven Stamkos guff for being six feet tall and 180 pounds dripping wet, and if Yakupov can crack 30+ goals a season at the NHL level, I doubt anyone would bother him much, either.

Yakupov In Action:

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