Nail Railovich Yakupov (Russian: Наиль Раилович Якупов, Tatar: Cyrillic Наил Раил улы Якупов, Latin Nail Rail uğlı Yakupov; born 6 October 1993) is a Russian professional ice hockey forward who is currently playing with SKA Saint Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He was selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Yakupov grew up within the HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk junior program and moved to North America in 2010 to further his career. He joined the Sarnia Sting, a major junior team in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he played for two years before being selected in the NHL Entry Draft. Yakupov played for the Russian national junior team, winning medals in all three tournaments he participated in. After the draft, Yakupov was a “bust,” in the NHL.
Yakupov with the Edmonton Oilers in 2015
6 October 1993|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||196 lb (89 kg; 14 st 0 lb)|
SKA Saint Petersburg|
St. Louis Blues
1st overall, 2012|
Yakupov was selected second overall by the Sarnia Sting in the 2010 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft. Prior to this, he played in the Russian Minor Hockey League (MHL) for his hometown team, Reaktor Nizhnekamsk, but thought that trying to join the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) would be a quicker path to his dream to play in the National Hockey League (NHL).
Yakupov scored his first OHL goal against the Windsor Spitfires on 24 September 2010. After winning OHL Rookie of the Month for the month of October, Yakupov participated in the 11 November game of the Subway Super Series for Team Russia, at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario; Russia lost the game 4–0.
On 3 February 2011, Yakupov was named the 'Kal Tire OHL Rookie of the Month' for January, which he had previously won in October 2010. He later won the title for the month of February as well. At the end of the season, Yakupov was named winner of the Emms Family Award as OHL Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Sting player to receive the honour. He was also named to the first All-Rookie team for the season. On 28 May, he was also awarded the title for CHL Rookie of the Year, as the top rookie in the Canadian junior circuit.
On 28 February 2011, at 3:07 in the first period of a game against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Yakupov scored his 43rd goal of the 2010–11 OHL season, giving him the new goal-scoring record for a rookie for the Sarnia Sting. On 19 March 2011, in Sarnia's last game of the 2010–11 season, he scored an assist on the first goal as well as the third goal for Sarnia to obtain his 100th point of the season; he also scored another assist with 80 seconds left in the game to finish the season with 101 points.
As a result of the 2012–13 NHL lockout, the Oilers had assigned Yakupov to Sarnia for the 2012–13 season. Reports indicated, however, that Yakupov would instead return to Russia and play for HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Yakupov had played for the organization previously as a member of its junior teams. His first game with the team was on 22 September against Traktor Chelyabinsk. After two games with Neftekhimik, Yakupov was suspended temporarily by the KHL, as the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) declared that he was not eligible to play in the league. According to IIHF rules, players moving between teams in different countries need to have a transfer card signed by the outgoing national ice hockey federation and the incoming federation. Hockey Canada, the governing body of ice hockey in Canada, had not signed Yakupov's card, making him ineligible to play in Russia. That required him to return to Canada and play with Sarnia for the remainder of the season. The reason they stated was that Yakupov had signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers, and according to an NHL–CHL agreement, players who sign such contracts have to either play in the NHL or for their CHL teams. Due to the NHL lockout, Yakupov could not play in the NHL and was therefore required to play in Sarnia. Within a few days, however, Hockey Canada decided that Yakupov was free to return to Russia, and signed his card; they "determined that Yakupov had no independent legal advice when, at the age of 17 years, he signed his contract with Sarnia."
The lockout ended in January 2013 and Yakupov returned to North America to play for the Oilers. A fan of Pavel Bure growing up, Yakupov wanted to have the number 10 on his jersey, the same one Bure wore for most of his career. However, since Shawn Horcoff wore that number at the time, Yakupov instead chose to use a 64, as the two digits added up to 10. Yakupov played his first NHL game in the first Oilers game on 20 January 2013, against the Vancouver Canucks. He scored his first goal during the next game, the Oilers' home opener, against Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks on 22 January.
On 27 April 2013, Yakupov recorded his first career hat trick in a 7–2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, with all three goals coming in the third period. Yakupov finished his rookie season leading all rookies in goals with 17, and tied with Jonathan Huberdeau for points with 31. Yakupov also scored 11 goals in the month of April, second only to fellow countryman Alexander Ovechkin.
St. Louis BluesEdit
On October 7, 2016, Yakupov's tenure with the Oilers ended in the lead up to the 2016–17 season, as he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for prospect Zach Pochiro and a conditional third-round pick in 2017 (the condition was Yakupov scoring 15 or more goals for St. Louis in 2016–17, which he didn't). After attending training camp and pre-season, he made the Blues opening night roster, making his debut in a 5–2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on October 12, 2016. In his next game the following day, he scored his first goal with the Blues and added an assist in a 3–2 victory over the Minnesota Wild. After initially providing an offensive spark with 4 points in his first 6 games, Yakupov's contributions dried up and he was made a healthy scratch by the Blues 12th game under head coach Ken Hitchcock. Appearing in a depth role with the Blues, Yakupov was exposed to limited ice time. After Hitchock's departure, Yakupov appeared in just 11 further games out of 27 after he was made a frequent healthy scratch by Mike Yeo. His season was ended prematurely after suffering a knee injury, which required surgery, against the Colorado Avalanche on March 31, 2017. He completed his season with 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points in 40 games, all career lows.
Yakupov was set to be a restricted free agent, but with a $2.5 million qualifying offer the Blues declined to renew, he became an unrestricted free agent. Despite gaining KHL interest, Yakupov was determined to continue in the NHL, and on July 4, 2017, he signed a one-year, $875,000 contract with the Colorado Avalanche.
Return to the KHLEdit
As a free agent, Yakupov opted to leave the NHL and return to Russia to further develop his game. He agreed to a two-year contract with perennial contending club, SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL on July 3, 2018.
|World Junior Championships|
|World Junior A Challenge|
|World Junior U18 Championships|
Yakupov was part of Team Russia in the 2011 World Junior U18 championship. He scored a hat trick in the bronze-medal game, including an empty-net goal with four seconds left, helping defeat Team Canada (with Sting teammate Brett Ritchie) 6–4.
Yakupov was part of the 2012 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, joining Russia. His team defeated Canada in the semi-finals, but lost 1–0 to Sweden in the gold medal game, acquiring a silver medal.
Nail Yakupov is an ethnic Volga Tatar and a Muslim. He is the first Tatar ever to be selected first overall at the NHL Entry Draft. With his draft selection, Yakupov surpassed Nazem Kadri as being the highest drafted Muslim player in NHL history. His father, Rail, worked with the HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk hockey team as a coach and executive. Yakupov first skated when he was four-years-old, but was more interested in soccer and the English Premier League club Chelsea than hockey.
Regular season and playoffsEdit
|2016–17||St. Louis Blues||NHL||40||3||6||9||19||—||—||—||—||—|
|2018–19||SKA Saint Petersburg||KHL||47||23||10||33||30||18||4||4||8||12|
Awards and honoursEdit
|First All-Rookie Team||2011|||
|Rookie of the Year||2011|||
|CHL Rookie of the Year||2011|||
|CHL Top Draft Prospect Award||2012|
|Third All-Star Team||2012|
|Rookie of the Month (October)||2013|
|Rookie of the Month (April)||2013|
- "Sarnia Sting's dynamic Russian prospects turning heads in the OHL". The Hockey News. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
- "Reaktor Nizhnekamsk 2009-10 Stats and Fights". DropYourGloves.com. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
- "Nail Yakupov 1st career OHL goal vs Windsor 2010 09 24". NHL Draft Video. Retrieved 6 February 2011.[dead link]
- "Team Russia Roster, 2010 Subway Super Series". Canadian Hockey League. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
- "Game 3 Highlights Video, 2010 Subway Super Series". Canadian Hockey League. Archived from the original on 31 October 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
- "OHL Top Performers of the Month for January". Ontario Hockey League. Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
- "OHL Top Performers of the Month for February". Ontario Hockey League. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "OHL Top Performers of the Month for January". Ontario Hockey League. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011.
- "Sarnia Sting's Nail Yakupov Named BMO Rookie of the Year". MarketWire. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
- "Game Summary". Ontario Hockey League. Archived from the original on 1 March 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- "Yakupov sets record in loss". The Observer. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- David Borody. "Sting close out season with a win". Sarnia Sting Website. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "Sting's Nail Yakupov Named CHL Player of the Week". Sarnia Sting Website. Archived from the original on 23 October 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "Nugent-Hopkins sent to AHL, Yakupov to juniors". NHL.com. 15 September 2012. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- "Yakupov Faces Uncertain Lockout Future". RIA Novosti. 16 September 2012. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- RIA Novosti (18 September 2012). "Yakupov's Lockout Fate 'to be Decided Wednesday'". Ria Novosti. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- "Rampant Radulov Earns Win for CSKA". RIA Novosti. 22 September 2012. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Oiler Yakupov Hit With KHL Ban". Ria Novosti. 26 September 2012. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Hockey Canada clears Nail Yakupov to resume KHL career". Canadian Press. CBC. 29 September 2012. Archived from the original on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
- "Oilers' Nail Yakupov may have to return to OHL". Canadian Press. CBC. 12 September 2012. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Nail Yakupov decides on No. 64 for Oilers jersey since 10 is already taken". National Post. 10 January 2013. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "Nail Yakupov scores first NHL goal". NHL.com. 23 January 2013. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "Oilers end season by routing Canucks". NHL.com. 28 April 2013. Archived from the original on 1 October 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Oilers deal Yakupov to Blues for pick, prospect". The Sports Network. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- "Tarasenko helps Blues top Blackhawks in opener". CBS Sports. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- "Yakupov provides offensive spark as Blue beat Wild 3-2". CBS Sports. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- "Tarasenko's OT goal lifts Blues past Blue Jackets". CBS Sports. 5 November 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "Yakupov had surgery to injured knee". Stltoday. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Nail Yakupov to become UFA after Blues decline qualifying offer". CBC. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
- "Yakupov becomes UFA after Blues walk away". NBC Sports. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- "Ex-Oilers winger Nail Yakupov signs with Colorado Avalanche". Edmonton Journal. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
- "Nail Yakupov in SKA!" (in Russian). SKA Saint Petersburg. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- "Russia beats Canada 6-4 to win bronze at world U18 hockey tournament". CityNews Toronto. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "Russian wunderkind Yakupov picked first at NHL draft". RT. 23 June 2012. Archived from the original on 25 June 2012.
- "Draft 2012: Nail Yakupov". 17 June 2012. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014.
- Andrey Osadchenko (12 June 2012). "Nail Yakupov on being a Muslim, Don Cherry, the draft combine and playing in Canada". OilersNation. Archived from the original on 15 June 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- Mirtle, James (1 June 2012). "Yakupov tries to prove he's not a stereotypical Russian prospect". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Domrachyov, Vladislav (3 January 2013). "Dreaming of Edmonton". IIHF.com. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Eurohockey.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or The Internet Hockey Database
|Awards and achievements|
| Winner of the CHL Rookie of the Year Award
| Winner of the Emms Family Award
| NHL first overall draft pick
| Edmonton Oilers first round draft pick