Nail Yakupov’s NHL Career Is Over (For Now)
I’ve always been a believer in former Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov. He had a promising rookie season with the Edmonton Oilers and looked like he was going to be something special in the NHL. However, he struggled after that.
And now, I’m writing a short piece about how leaving the NHL altogether will turn his career around.
It was announced on the weekend that Yakupov has signed a 2-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL in Russia. In short: He’s going home.
Many players in the past have gone to play a short-term contract in the KHL only to return to the NHL. This might be the thing that Yakupov needs to regain his confidence which has undoubtedly been compromised. He’s only 24 years old and still has plenty of time to develop his game. A lot of people doubt that this will ever happen, but this change of scenery offers his best chance.
Will he ever live up to the hype that came with him when he was drafted 1st overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft? At this point, it’s doubtful. But his move to the KHL could pave the way for a future return to North America and a shot at a decent NHL career.
Now we wait. Perhaps someday down the line we’ll see more performances like this: