|2011-2012||Sarnia Sting (playoffs)||6||2||3||5||-7||4|
Nail Yakupov is the consensus number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft for good reason. With speculation that the Edmonton Oilers want to trade down could the Leafs trade up to land the Russian Winger?
Yakupov has the potential to be a true superstar in the NHL. In his rookie season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting he broke Sarnia’s record for the highest amount of points scored by a rookie with 101 points in 65 games. The previous record holder was NHL superstar Stephen Stamkos who scored 92 points in 63 games during his rookie year.
Some have said he could be the most talented player in the draft since Sidney Crosby however if Yakupov can live up to his hype remains to be seen. In his second season with the Sarnia he improved on his defensive game drastically improving his +- from -2 to +15. Hampered by a concussion that made him miss several games Yakupov played to a pace of 112 points in a full 68 game season.
Yakupov has been compared as a Mini Alexander Ovechkin. His greatest asset is his speed, he is capable of outskating pretty much anyone. His shot is accurate and deadly and is one of the best in his draft class. He has excellent hockey sense and the ability to read plays well ahead of them happening. He is the full package of a scoring winger.
The Leafs would probably have to give up a fair amount to snag the number one overall pick but having a true franchise player suit up in the blue and white is worth the cost. Rumours have the Leafs interested in trading up for Yakupov and/or fellow Sarnia Sting prospect Alex Galchenyuk. After a disappointing season Brian Burke will have to make a splash this offseason if he wants to take the Leafs to the next Level and Yakupov might be the player he needs to do so.
“Yakupov has to be considered more of a 1B than a #2 at this point with a lot of hockey still left to be played. The 18-year-old Russian is the biggest game-breaker in this draft and plays a very similar style to Taylor Hall only with more physicality away from the puck. Yakupov is a phenomenal skater and his ability to use his speed while creating offense is unparalleled in this draft class. Projecting as a dynamic top-line forward, the only real concern with Yakupov lies in his stature and determining whether or not his body will be able to hold up with his style of play at the next level.” – The Scouting Report Midterm Rankings http://www.thescoutingreport.org/2012-nhl-midterm-top-60-rankings-130/
‘His best asset is his mobility and acceleration. He has an extremely strong lower body, specifically his legs. He uses his legs to generate top end speed and mobility. He has the ability to turn on a dime, as he takes very hard and aggressive edges. He is one of the most elusive one on one players in the age group, and has the ability to go wide on almost every defenceman in the OHL. He has extremely strong vision and puck skills, and is at his best skating the puck into the offensive zone and making an intelligent read of the ice.
Throughout the season he was the target of aggressive physical play and line matching, and at times it looks as though it can be a bit much for him. Sometimes it looks as though he can take shifts off. Another area of concern is his health and his ability to avoid injury.”- The Prospect Blog http://theprospectblog.com/2012/04/22/2012-nhl-draft-scouting-report-nail-yakupov/
“Nail Yakupov is an extremely elusive hockey player to the fact where comparing him to Detroit Red Wing forward Pavel Datsyuk should gather no qualms. Why is Yakupov so elusive and evasive? First, Yakupov’s strong skating stride delivers quick acceleration and top end speed to swiftly separate himself from defenders. In addition, Nail has the ability to quickly change speed (especially when in high gear) that makes him almost impossible to lineup for the “big hit”. Add in the ability to spin, cut and deke on the fly and Yakupov’s arsenal is fully equipped with skills that gives defensemen nightmares around the league” – The Hockey Guys http://thehockeyguys.net/nail-yakupov-defined/