Oilers’ third-round pick thinks he can be better than Nail Yakupov


You may not know much about Edmonton third-round pick Danil Zharkov, but he wants you to know he thinks he can be better than his potential future teammate and No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov.

Zharkov tells Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal he believes he’s got the talent to be the better of the two Russians Edmonton selected in this year’s draft.

“It’s my goal to be better than Yak. It doesn’t matter if he’s my friend or not,” said the winger after he had been drafted by the club in the third round (91st overall). The Oilers had selected Yakupov with the first pick less than 24 hours earlier.

Well if he’s that good, how is it he wound up going that late? Easy. Zharkov says teams avoided him because he’s Russian.

“In my opinion, I dropped down this year. I think because I’m Russian; the NHL teams are really scared I will go to the KHL, but I’m not going to do that,” he said. “I’m going to try and make the team.

“If not, I’ll go back to Belleville.”

Give the kid this, at least he’s confident in himself but there may be something to what he’s saying. Zharkov was ranked as the No. 32 skater in North America by Central Scouting. Falling all the way to 91st overall means something was up with what teams saw in him. Zharkov’s late season scoring drought likely didn’t help much.