The saga of Nail Yakupov is surprisingly long given that the young Russian forward is only 23 years old. The former first overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is on his second NHL team after being dumped by the team that drafted him, the Edmonton Oilers. It appears now that his current team, the St Louis Blues, will have a difficult time finding a spot for him on their roster and likely will not qualify the restricted free-agent.
If this scenario plays out, Yakupov will suffer an unprecedented fail that sees him go from blue chip prospect to 23 year-old free agent. Might be bolt to the KHL for more money and a better opportunity? Fox Sports Midwest reporter Andy Strickland doesn’t think so. The Blues insider reported earlier today that Yakupov fully intends to play in the NHL next season and will seek out a contract either with the Blues or another team.
While Yakupov hasn’t developed into the offensive dynamo that most thought he would, his underlying statistics do suggest that he could add value to a team. He tips the scale in his team’s favor in terms of both goals for and points for per 60 minutes and is a workhorse on the forecheck. Here’s to hoping that the maligned winger finally finds a home in the NHL.