News 1130 Sports reporter and Vancouver Canucks insider Rich Dhaliwal made waves on the west coast today when he reported that failed former first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov has expressed interest in signing with the Vancouver Canucks.
The 23 year-old Yakupov was left unqualified by the St. Louis Blues yesterday and, as a result, will hit the open market come July 1st. He suited up for just 40 games with the Blues last season, as he spent more than half the season watching from the press box as a healthy scratch. In those 40 games he produced just three goals and 9 points, but his skill and talent level hints at better production if in the right environment? So the question is, can Vancouver be the right environment?
The Canucks, aside from Henrik and Daniel Sedin, will be a young team in 2017-18 and could certainly use another young forward with potential in the team’s top-six forward group. On the surface, Yakupov seems like a no-brainer for a young team that struggled to put up offense in 2016-17. However, when you look at how losing affected Yakupov’s development early in his career with the Edmonton Oilers, maybe another losing environment is not the best landing spot for the once prized prospect.
Whatever the future holds for Nail Yakupov, the question will always remain, “what the heck happened?” In a span of just five years the young Russian went from “can’t miss prospect” to “colossal bust”. Here’s hoping he gets another shot at redemption.