Today's scouting report is on the Sarnia Sting Right Wing Nail Yakupov. Yakupov is in his second full season with Sarnia and is considered the No. 1 rated player from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. At the last World Junior Championships U-20 Yakupov finished with 9 assists in 7 games. Nail Yakupov is one of the most talented players to enter the draft in the past decade and will likely be playing in the NHL next season.
Right Wing / Sarnia Sting - OHL
October 6, 1993
Hometown: Nizhnekamsk, Russia
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Final CSS North American Rank: 1st
Future Considerations: 1st
Hockey Prospect: 1st
The Hockey Guys: 1st
Craig's List: 1st
What They Say About Him:
‘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.'
‘His best asset is his mobility and acceleration. He has an extremely strong lower body, specifically his legs. He uses his legs to generate top end speed and mobility. He has the ability to turn on a dime, as he takes very hard and aggressive edges. He is one of the most elusive one on one players in the age group, and has the ability to go wide on almost every defenceman in the OHL. He has extremely strong vision and puck skills, and is at his best skating the puck into the offensive zone and making an intelligent read of the ice.'
‘Throughout the season he was the target of aggressive physical play and line matching, and at times it looks as though it can be a bit much for him. Sometimes it looks as though he can take shifts off. Another area of concern is his health and his ability to avoid injury.'
‘Nail Yakupov is an extremely elusive hockey player to the fact where comparing him to Detroit Red Wing forward Pavel Datsyuk should gather no qualms. Why is Yakupov so elusive and evasive? First, Yakupov's strong skating stride delivers quick acceleration and top end speed to swiftly separate himself from defenders. In addition, Nail has the ability to quickly change speed (especially when in high gear) that makes him almost impossible to lineup for the "big hit". Add in the ability to spin, cut and deke on the fly and Yakupov's arsenal is fully equipped with skills that gives defensemen nightmares around the league. ‘
Nail Yakupov is going to become a superstar on the NHL stage if he can keep from being injured. He has the skills and talents to put up big numbers and become a dominant forward within the next 3-5 years. There are some scouts who believe Yakupov could be the most talented Number One pick since Sidney Crosby in 2005. While he may not live up to that high level of praise he is certainly going to become a highly talented forward at the NHL level.
In his rookie season he beat the highest points total any Sarnia Sting rookie had ever achieved. The previous holder of that record was Tampa Bay Lighting Forward Steven Stamkos. However during his rookie year Yakupov was found guilty on multiply occasions of not doing enough defensively and instead waiting for a breakaway pass. However in his second season in the OHL Yakupov has improved upon his defensive game and his +/- numbers show this.
However just because he is the best player available it doesn't necessarily follow that he will be selected first overall. With the Oilers building up a scary young forward group (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Jordan Eberle etc) they might decide to improve their blue line. Could Ryan Murray pip Yakupov to first overall? I doubt it but Yakupov doesn't necessarily have the first overall position wrapped up just yet.