Edit: Drafted 1st overall by the Edmonton Oilers.
Leading up to the NHL Draft we here at Last Word on Sports will be bringing you draft profiles of the top prospects.
We’re gonna start at #1, with our top rated prospect, Nail Yakupov of The OHL’s Sarnia Sting.
Born Oct 6 1993 — Nizhnekamsk, Russia
Height 5.11 — Weight 190 — Shoots L
The young Russian came to the OHL in 2010 eager to prove that he had what it takes to play a North American game and to dispel the effects of “the Russian Factor” in his future draft stock. Needless to say, he’s excelled.
Yakupov plays a similar style to Alex Ovechkin, only not as big. He’s a dynamic offensive force who just loves to score goals. He’s got an excellent shot, great hands, is a super skater and plays a robust game. Yakupov is very fast, makes excellent use of his edges, is strong on the puck, and is very agile. He’s got elite level skating ability. He has a laser of a shot and his one-timer is feared around the OHL. He’s not afraid to be hit and just loves dishing it out. He’s a threat to score every time he’s on the ice, and from nearly any area on the ice.
Last year, Yakupov beat Steven Stamkos’ team records for goals and points by a Sting Rookie. This year he’s missed more games due to various injuries and playing in the World Juniors but he’s been even better when he does play increasing both his goals per game and points per game paces.
Yakupov used the World Junior Tourney to show another dimension with 9 assists in 6 games for Russia. That type of production from a draft eligible player in what is typically a 19 year old’s tournament really solidified his spot as the consensus pick for Best Player Available.
The only real concern with Yakupov is his size. However we think it won’t be a problem for him as he’s built like a tank. He is extremely strong and powerful. As well he’s 5’11”, which is not exactly that small, he’s no Theo Fleury or Martin St. Louis, that’s for sure.
Yakupov projects as a franchise winger, and some team will be very pleased to call his name this June. We rank Yakupov as far and away the best player available in this year’s draft. He should be the 1st overall pick and we don’t believe any of the other prospects are even close. Yakupov is the real prize to be won in the NHL’s Annual Draft Lottery.
… and thats the Last Word.