The Edmonton Oilers took the BPA.
Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus: “He’s a well above-average skater with plus speed and tremendous agility. He has the ability to push the tempo up the ice and keep defenders on their heels, but he’s probably even more dangerous at a standstill with high-end agility, first step acceleration, and a real slippery aspect to his game. He has such a powerful stride that he can take a handful of strides and already have travelled half the distance of the ice.”
Ross MacLean, Head scout ISS: “Yakupov is a gifted goal scoring forward, something that really doesn’t seem to come around that often, so when one does he is a hot commodity. His explosive bursts of speed and understanding of scoring principles off the rush is very similar to that of what we saw from Taylor Hall a couple years ago, but also has some people thinking Pavel Bure. He is a dynamic and electrifying player that can bring fans to their feet and is a prime talent for marketing the sport in any locale or market. He is a player that should be able to step into the next level very quickly and continue to progress. Put all that together and you still only have a glimpse of what makes him such a desirable prospect and the number one ranked for us at ISS.”
DESJARDINS NHLE (per 82gp)
Taylor Hall 17-29-46
Nail Yakupov 18-22-40
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-27-38
Yakupov’s NHLE suggests another strong Calder candidate and a player “in the range” with Taylor Hall. Yakupov’s equivalency was actually ahead of Hall’s pace before his injury. Yakupov has the most offensive potential in this draft according to Gabriel’s horn. TOI is also a concern. There have been reports of 28 minutes a night. THAT could skew things.
That’s a wonderful scouting report, I’m going to miss these. There’s no skating issues, no “wide body style slows him down” or “had mono” or “born with a tail” or some of the other maladies we’ve seen in the past with Oiler picks. Another finisher, after a long stretch of few or none. This kid shoots bullets. He can pass and take a pass and has some spine.
He lit it up at the WJ’s and scored a big hatty against a tough team same week. He should be plug and play; I would expect Yakupov can play in the NHL next season and score goals.
The knee injury is a concern. His performance after the knee injury was well off previous performance.
- Before: 26, 21-32-53 2.04ppg
- After: 16, 10-6-16 1.00ppg
Lack of size will make it difficult for him to impact the game physically (he has an edge to his game). Could use his linemates more, and sometimes tries to do too much (these are kind of the same thing but that’s how it was posted by Grant McCagg). There are reports that he could use more work in his own end of the rink, but that’s true of damn near every 18-year old this side of Bob Gainey. I’m not sure we’ve read a lot of good things about his play in traffic. I might have missed it in the scouting reports–he is described as a guy who has grit–but most of the highlights of him I’ve seen involve shooting from high percentage areas without a lot of opposition. He might be more of a perimeter player than someone like Taylor Hall, but that’s a guess based on comparing the two youngster’s scouting reports. Performing at a high level when there’s a lot of traffic is an extremly valuable asset; we don’t know–or haven’t been told–he has that gear.
You have to work hard to find something wrong with this kid. Sure, he could end up in Russia but the Oilers would have every opportunity to make sure that didn’t happen. Sure, if you draft him and can’t sign him that’s a problem but everything about him screams NHL. And his value would be exceptional, especially after an impressive year or two.
The Oilers are deep at RW, but that’s a problem that is easily solved. Trading Ales Hemsky or Jordan Eberle will probably be the better move two years down the road, and Yakupov is very likely to emerge as the #1 RW on this team early in his career.