One of the down sides to a possible lockout is that we’ll be denied seeing some of the great young talent drafted this summer. In Nail Yakupov’s case, the Edmonton Oilers’ loss would seem to be the Sarnia Sting’s (his junior team) gain.
Not so fast.
IIHF Communications Director Szymon Szemberg reports Yakupov’s agent, Igor Larionov, says his client will take his talents to Russia and the KHL for the year if the NHL lockout ends up cutting into the regular season. Rather than suit up for the Sting, Yakupov will play for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.
Provided this is true, it won’t do much to calm the nerves of people worried Yakupov would jump ship full-time to play back home in Russia, but he’s made it known from the outset that playing in the NHL is what he wants to do. If there’s no games being played in the NHL, you have to play somewhere and doing it at home makes for a comforting option.