It has quite honestly been crazy to see the rapid decline of former consensus #1 overall pick at the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft Nail Yakupov's career trajectory both since entering the NHL and since leaving it as well. This week Yakupov was traded for the second time this season and it frankly may have been the low point of his career as the team that acquired him from SKA St. Petersburg, HC Vityaz, dealt him away to the Amur Khabarovsk for nothing but cold hard cash.
It was the latest in a long series of stumbles from a player that was once viewed as one of the most exciting young prospects in hockey, and for good reason. Yakupov put up 101 points for the Sarnia Sting during his first season in the Ontario Hockey League and his play at international tournaments, including two wins over hockey power house Canada, had many scouts salivating at the prospect of seeing Yakupov playing on an NHL ice. His time in Edmonton saw him never live up to those lofty expectations however, although how much of the blame there belongs to the Oilers is a fair question to ask, and despite getting a second and third chance with the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche respectively, Yakupov could never quite put it together at the NHL level.
Yakupov made the jump to the Kontinental Hockey League during the 2018 - 2019 season and had a pretty good showing recording 23 goals and 10 assists for 33 points in 47 games played. However his production in this most recent season saw a significant dip with just 10 goal and 10 assists for 20 points over 47 games played, and he was even more of a defensive liability as well. This is no doubt what prompted SKA St. Petersburg, one of the KHL's premier organizations, to make the initial trade to HC Vityaz.
Yakupov's new team has consistently performed poorly in the KHL over the last 6 season, averaging fewer than 20 regulation wins across that span of play in spite of playing over 60 games a year. Perhaps Yakupov will play a role in helping them turn things around, but again this does appear to be a low point in the career of a once highly promising player.