The Edmonton Oiler’s brass couldn’t get up to the Pittsburgh podium fast enough to select Nail Yakupov, the 2012 1st overall NHL draft pick. It had been widely speculated that the Oilers were targeting defenseman, Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips with their 1st overall pick but in the end, they just couldn’t pass on the talented Russian right winger. Yakupov will become the next star of a core of Edmonton youngsters which includes center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1st overall in 2011), left winger Taylor Hall (1st overall in 2010), right winger Jordan Eberle (22nd overall in 2008), and 2012 free agent, defenseman Justin Schultz.
The highly skilled Yakupov was born in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan on Oct. 6, 1993. He is 5’11” and 185 pounds. Certainly not the biggest of NHL forwards but, like his hero Pavel Bure, he has lightning speed and dazzling footwork. He is relentless in his pursuit of the puck and along the boards. With his combination of skill, physicality, and finishing ability, Nail looks like an undeniable don’t-miss prospect. He possesses a lethal one-timer and is deadly one-on-one with the goalie.
Yakupov, playing with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL had been consistently rated as the #1 junior prospect. He was one of only two forwards selected in the top ten (the other eight being defensemen) of the 2012 surprising NHL draft. In his two seasons with the Sting, 픽스코어 Nail played in 107 regular season games scoring 80 goals and 90 assists for a total of 170 points. He also had 101 penalty minutes. Yakupov played for Russia in the 2012 World Juniors scoring 9 assists in 7 games while winning a silver medal. In the 2011 World Under-18 Championships, Yakupov was key in the Russians winning a bronze medal, scoring a hat trick in the bronze medal game against Canada.
So what does the future look like for Nail Yakupov, 2012 1st overall NHL draft pick? Well, according to my crystal ball I believe the Oilers will begin the season showcasing their number one draft picks. The nail will start on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. He will score over 100 points to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the 2012-2013 NHL rookie of the year. Only eight previous #1 picks since 1963 have won the “Calder”. He will score over 50 goals in only his second season and the Oilers will make the playoffs for the first time since 2005-2006. In his third season, 2014-2015, again scoring over 50 goals, Yakupov will lead the Oilers to their sixth (first since 1990) Stanley Cup win.
I believe that Yakupov will have a stellar career averaging over a point a game. Along with Justin Shultz and the other 1st round picks he is the final “Nail” in Edmonton’s rebuild and will be instrumental in leading the Oilers back to the glory years of the 80s’. The Oilers and Yakupov will be exciting and dangerous to play against in 2012-2013 and for years to come. Just like in the Gretzky years, Oiler’s fans have a lot to look forward to and in later years will love to reminisce about Nail Yakupov, the 2012 1st overall NHL draft pick.