Yakupov wants to play in NHL, not KHL, next season

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This summer will mark the five-year anniversary of Nail Yakupov going No. 1 overall at the 2012 draft.

And it comes with great uncertainty about his NHL future.

Coming off a season in which he was a part-time player for the Blues, Yakupov is now a pending restricted free agent. It’s unclear what GM Doug Armstrong will do in terms of a contract offer, but Yakupov knows what he wants.

From Fox Sports Midwest:

Yakupov was in and out of the Blues lineup during the regular season, scoring three goals and nine points in 40 games. Some of that was due to coaching decisions, but it was also due to a troublesome left knee injury that eventually required surgery in late March.

“I battled for a month and tested my leg three times and it didn’t feel very good,” he said, per the Post-Dispatch. “Kind of a sad thing.”

Yakupov, 23, said he enjoyed his time in St. Louis. His trade from Edmonton just prior to the start of the regular season appeared to be a good change of scenery, and he said he’d like to stay.

But given Armstrong would need to qualify Yakupov at his current $2.5 million salary just to retain his rights, it might not be in the cards.