Nail Yakupov: What Hockey Experts Think of Top Prospect in 2012 NHL Draft

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Nail Yakupov: What Hockey Experts Think of Top Prospect in 2012 NHL Draft
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Nail Yakupov is the top North American prospect in the 2012 NHL draft class, according to Central Scouting, and he's created a lot of buzz over the last few months.

There are varying opinions on the Sarnia Sting star, with some experts thinking he's a can't-miss prospect, while others are not sure he is destined to be a franchise player.

Let's look at what some experts are saying about Yakupov.

Former NHL star Igor Larionov talked about Yakupov and the Oilers in a recent piece from NHL.com:

To me, I would go for Nail to get that whole lineup of great players for the next 10-plus years with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov. I know it's a tough decision, but if I were GM, I would take Nail and enjoy this young group grow and develop for many years.

It would be like [Mark] Messier, Jari Kurri and [Wayne] Gretzky all over again. Another generation of great players…it would be fantastic to see the new Oilers of a new era with that talent and speed.

Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal shared a tweet comparing Yakupov and former Sarnia Sting star Steven Stamkos. Yakupov played for the Sting this season:

 

Hockey scout Matt Moran talked to Yahoo's Buzzing the Net blog about Yakupov's skating ability:

Yakupov's skating is unrivaled in this year's draft. He is blessed with a powerful stride and incredible four-way mobility that makes him a threat to score every time he touches the puck...

Dave Staples of the Edmonton Journal wrote a piece on Yakupov and included the perspective of TSN's Bob McKenzie:

Hockey draft insider Bob McKenzie, who regularly surveys scouts for their opinions on draft-eligible players, says that Nail Yakupov’s stock has dropped a bit with some scouts after his playoff performance. Some no longer see the young Russian as a can’t miss franchise player.

Pat Hickey of The Montreal Gazette talked about Yakupov's versatility in a recent article:

Yakupov is a right-winger, but shoots left, which is not unusual for a Russian player. He has also played left wing and centre in the past, and wouldn’t resist a change.

 

My Take

The typical stereotypes surrounding Russian players are unfair and shouldn't apply at all to Nail Yakupov. He is a top talent and someone who wants to get better. That kind of attitude is what you need in a young player. There's no question that he's the best pick for Edmonton.

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