There are also highlights of his debut below; scroll down to view.
Jim Matheson, Postmedia News | Sep 18, 2012 9:17 PM ET | Last Updated: Sep 19, 2012 10:02 AM ET
EDMONTON — Home is where the heart is, not to mention the playground for Edmonton Oilers winger Nail Yakupov.
He’ll be playing for his high-flying hometown Russian team Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk on Saturday, according to his agent, Igor Larionov.
There was a feeling the Oilers might be blocking the 18-year-old from playing in the Kontinental Hockey League because they had assigned him to his old junior team, the Sarnia Sting, but that’s not true, according to team sources. That was simply a paper transaction because Yakupov has junior eligibility left.
If the first-overall pick in the June draft wants to play in Russia, that’s fine with them. This is what the kid wants, what Larionov wants after talking informally with the NHL club over the summer, and the Oilers weren’t about to play hardball and tell Yakupov he has to stay in North America.
According to sources, the Oilers would rather have Yakupov playing against men in the KHL — as long as he gets 15 to 20 minutes of ice time a game — than light it up in the Ontario Hockey League, where he’s already played for two years, against 16- and 17-year-olds.
Here are some highlights from Nail's KHL debut. Take a look at Nail walking through the opposing defense at 1:08 -- that must remind some Canucks fans of a certain former-Canuck:
Of course, Nail has a lot to learn, but there are signs he is developing at an alarming rate. As many had predicted last year, it seems he could become one of the NHL's next stars in a few years. This will definitely be a positive learning experience for him and a stepping stone to the NHL.
Edited by WeatherWise, 24 September 2012 - 10:45 AM.