All week leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.
Nail Yakupov (RW)
Height: 5’10 Weight: 189 Shoots: Left
Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 among North American skaters
What kind of player is he?
An explosive scorer. Yakupov had 31 goals and 38 assists in 42 games with the Sting in 2011-12. He missed time with injuries, but nothing serious enough to hurt his ranking.
In January, legendary coach Scotty Bowman said Yakupov reminded him of Pavel Bure.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Yakupov’s agent, Igor Larionov, says his client has no interest in returning to Russia to play in the KHL: “Only one league exists for him, the National Hockey League, nothing else.”
“Yakupov’s skating is unrivaled in this year’s draft. He is blessed with a powerful stride and incredible four-way mobility that makes him a threat to score every time he touches the puck. Nail is so explosive and gets to top speed in the blink of an eye. On the offensive side of the blueline he consistently brings fans to the edge of their seats. He is a pure trigger man and is certainly NHL ready in that regard, which is something that can’t be said for many forwards in this draft.” — Matt Moran, OHL Central Scouting