According to an unverified, unconfirmed report from a KHL hockey blogger known only as Patrick C, former 1st overall draft pick Nail Yakupov’s time in the NHL may finally be coming to an end.
Yakupov is named, amongst dozens of others, in a huge list of NHLers expected to sign with the KHL later this offseason. According to Patrick C, Yakupov is headed to the 2017-18 Gagarin Cup champion Ak Bars Kazan.
Check it out:
Again, it’s important to note that this report has not yet been verified by the player, the team or any other KHL insiders like Igor Eronko or Aivis Kalnins. We’ll continue to monitor this rumour and dig deeper for more official sources. For what it’s worth, Yakupov’s one year, $875,000 contract with the Colorado Avalanche expires on July 1st, 2018 after that he’ll be a restricted free-agent, assuming the Avs give him a qualifying offer, otherwise we’ll become an unrestricted free-agent.
Regardless of whether or not he leaves the NHL this offseason, Yakupov has already established himself as the biggest draft bust of the past decade. Selected 1st overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the 24 year old winger has just 62 goals and 136 points in 350 NHL games, despite being billed as a high scoring, high octane offensive player. The thing is, Yakupov’s NHL career started with such promise after he put up 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games during his rookie season. The following season Yakupov’s offensive production would take a nosedive under new head coach Dallas Eakins, however. Since then Yakupov has bounced around a bit, getting traded to the St. Louis Blues before signing with the Avs last offseason.
In 58 games with the Avs in 2017-18, Yakupov managed just nine goals and 16 points, despite receiving opportunities to play with other skilled players like Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Alexander Kerfoot. At this point, it’s hard to argue that Yakupov hasn’t had good opportunities to establish himself in the NHL. Unfortunately for him, he just hasn’t been able to capitalize on his opportunities. So long, Yak? At least we'll always have this incredible goal celebration from his rookie season: