Following up on an unverified, unconfirmed report from a KHL hockey blogger known only as Patrick C from earlier this week, it’s looking more and more like former 1st overall draft pick Nail Yakupov’s time in the NHL may finally be coming to an end.
Yakupov was 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.
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Now Yakupov’s agent, Hockey Hall of Famer Igor Larionov, has commented on the rumors saying of his client, “he’s a grown man, and he will decide what’s best for him”
That certainly doesn’t sound like an endorsement. 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?
Source: Adrian Dater
Photo Credit: Zuma Press