By taking Nail Yakupov first overall in the 2012 NHL Draft, the Edmonton Oilers added another high-scoring forward to their stable of incredible youth. With Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle the Oilers have a nice array of stars.
Yakupov heads to the NHL with a lot of hope and David Staples of the Edmonton Journal says the Russian reminds him of the great players of the Soviet era.
But Yakupov also shares the puck exceedingly well. The game doesn’t slow down when the puck comes to him. He doesn’t hold the puck forever, or try to deke out the entire opposing team. Instead, he quickly snaps off a fierce shot, or fires a hard pass, or he rapidly skates the puck to open ice, most often straight at the opposing net.
With his style of play and short, powerful and stocky build, his play isn’t just reminiscent of [Sergei] Makarov and [Vladimir] Krutov, he also looks like them.
If Yakupov can emulate great Russians of the past like them, the Oilers have themselves another franchise player, not to mention one that adds a bit of flavor to the roster. If you recall, Makarov won the Calder Trophy in 1990 (albeit as a 32 year-old).
Considering he’ll be either riding on the wing with Nugent-Hopkins or Sam Gagner, he’ll have the playmakers needed to fill the net.