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Nail Yakupov -- The Next Elite NHL Superstar.

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I came across the following article a couple weeks ago, and couldn't help but think this kid will be selected first overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Everything so far has indicated he will be a star in the league, whether it be the testimonies of his peers and coaches, the opinions of analysts, the performances we've seen so far, or even just the numbers themselves.

There are some who believe he will be the next great player. And many make comparisons style-wise to Pavel Bure.

Last year he broke Steven Stamkos' Sarnia Sting record for most goals and points as a rookie (65 games played: 49 goals, 52 assists, 101 points). He also captured the OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year awards.

Here is a TSN article published a few weeks ago: http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/story/?id=374103

Top NHL Draft prospect Yakupov a star in the making

Mitch Ward, TSN.ca

8/20/2011 9:48:42 AM

You don't have to watch him for very long to see why Nail Yakupov is considered the favourite to be taken with the first overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry draft.

The Russian speedster was one of 36 top 2012 prospects on the ice for the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp on Wednesday and Thursday in Etobicoke, Ont.

The prospects tested out a variety of possible rule changes in front of a who's who of NHL executives, scouts and coaches while showcasing their talents against top talent.

“You could tell he's a dynamic player,” said Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, who coached Yakupov on the black team at camp.

In three up-tempo scrimmages at the camp you couldn't help but notice the dizzying array of skills Yakupov brings to the table.

“I think when you look at Nail Yakupov you start to take a step back and say okay what can't he do in the game?” said TSN hockey analyst Craig Button. “I think that's what always differentiates those elite, top players.”

Standing a shade less than 5'11, Yakupov isn't the biggest guy around but his speed, vision, tremendous puck skills and accurate shot more than make up for his lack of size. In fact, had it not been for an early October birthday that saw him miss the 2011 Entry Draft cutoff by less than a month, Yakupov may very well have been a top-3 pick already.

“He's got that complete package,” said Button.

It wasn't just the coaches and scouts who were impressed with Yakupov at camp either. Mathew Dumba, one of the top defensive prospects at camp, was happy he was on Yakupov's team rather than matching up against him.

“Just watching him looked like he was pretty tough on defenders,” said Dumba. “It's definitely fun to play with him; he's so effective when he gets the puck.”

Malcolm Subban wasn't so lucky, having to play in net against Yakupov.

“He has a lot of skill, he's really explosive and has a good shot,” said Subban. “You've gotta be aware of those guys when they're on the ice at all times.”

Subban was beaten once by Yakupov on a perfect one-timer during the second scrimmage on Wednesday, but got his revenge by making an incredible recovery to stop him in the shootout.

Yakupov took the OHL by storm last season, scoring 49 goals and 101 points in 65 games for the Sarnia Sting en route to capturing both OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year honours.

His point and goals totals broke the Sting's rookie scoring record previously held by none other than Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos.

Yakupov was also a force for the Russian team at the IIHF World Under-18 Championships this past April. He scored six goals and 13 points in seven games and had a hat-trick against Canada to help Russia win the bronze medal.

For all the skill, the records and the hype, Yakupov remains very humble though, putting his team's goals ahead of his own.

“I think we have pretty good team, so I want to be first in the OHL,” said Yakupov. “My points, scores and assists come second.”

An ethnic Tatar hailing from Nizhnekamsk, a city about 500 miles east of Moscow in Russia, Yakupov elected to come to Canada to play junior hockey, despite speaking virtually no English, because of the style of the Canadian game.

“I like the hockey in Canada it's pretty tough, and I want to play in the NHL,” said Yakupov. “It's more physical so it's interesting.”

Yakupov's transition to Canada last season was eased somewhat by the fact that he lived with the Russian-speaking family of Sting teammate, good friend, and fellow top-rated prospect, Alex Galchenyuk who was also on hand at camp.

The two formed a dynamic duo for the Sting, as Galchenyuk was second to Yakupov among first-year players with 83 points.

They were on opposite teams at camp though, which took some adjusting.

“We played 68 games together, it was pretty tough,” said Galechnyuk. “I got used to playing with him and I mean you pass the puck and it's not Nail, it's pretty different.”

Despite playing for opposite sides, the two teamed up during the skills competition shootout. Yakupov passed the puck to Galechnyuk, who flipped the puck into the air as Yakupov flipped his stick around and attempted a baseball swing.

Unfortunately Yakupov whiffed on the pitch.

“We tried, to do something special, it almost worked,” said Galechyuk. “I still think it was pretty nice.”

Galchenyuk was also more than happy to help out his friend during interviews when needed. When a reporter asked Yakupov what goals he had for the upcoming season Galchenyuk was quick to jump in.

“Pass the puck to me more,” he said to laughs.

The two-young stars will report to Sting training camp on Monday August 29 in preparation for the upcoming OHL season. And with a full season under their belts, don't be surprised if the two put up some lofty numbers in Sarnia this year and hear their names called early in the draft.

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he was amazing at the biosteel camp too. kid's the real deal; i pray that Edmonton doesn't get him too.

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Colorado looks too good to finish dead last. He'll go to either Calgary or one of those terrible Eastern teams, maybe even the Devils or Winnipeg.

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<br />he was amazing at the biosteel camp too.  kid's the real deal; i pray that Edmonton doesn't get him too.<br />
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he was amazing at the biosteel camp too. kid's the real deal; i pray that Edmonton doesn't get him too.

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Hall - RNH- Yakupov 2utgv3d.gif

Ovechkin- Backstrom- Yakupov 2utgv3d.gif

which is better in your opinion?

i'd go with the WSH one

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right now? Washington; in 10 years? oilers.

again, i'm very doubtful that colorado will finish last, or even bottom 5 for the lottery pick.

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right now? Washington; in 10 years? oilers.

again, i'm very doubtful that colorado will finish last, or even bottom 5 for the lottery pick.

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right now? Washington; in 10 years? oilers.

again, i'm very doubtful that colorado will finish last, or even bottom 5 for the lottery pick.

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ovie is 35 in 10 years. the way he plays, he's never gonna make it that long, unless he seriously tones it down. he certainly will be in the decline of his career by then at any point. guys that play that hard have a shorter shelf life.

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It'll be interesting to see how he does this year.

It can be argued that last year was his first year and that he literally took the league by storm and no teams knew how to handle him. So teams will be better prepared this year for him. If he still performs this year, I'll be very impressed.

I'd like to see how'd he do against some QMJHL teams, could be a good indictator of how he does against tighter defensive teams.

Man ... Major Junior needs more inter-league play, to see how a leagues top players match against other leagues top players and not just a few top teams during the Memorial Cup.

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as long as van is still sitting pretty comfy atop the nw i say we let colorado win the 6 games against us just to make sure they dont finish near the bottom

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Washington has a good chance of getting the 1st over all via COL. Ottawa and NYI also have a good chance IMO.

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If Edmonton gets him they would potentially have one of the most feared lines in recent NHL history. I mean 3 number 1 picks, a pure scorer and a speed demon centred by a playmaker with unheralded vision....scaryblink.gif. On a somewhat related note has there ever been a line with 3 number 1 picks?

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