Thanks to OilersNation, a contest was run and incredible good photo shopping work was done last season to represent Nail Yakupov. They were all good but one that stood out was 'Yak City'. It did bring me to the question, 'how good is Nail Yakupov?' 'How high is his ceiling?' 'Can he improve on his defensive game any more without sacrificing his offensive output?' 'Is this guy a long term Oiler like many believe Hall is, or does he get traded in the next couple seasons for a key player to put this team over the top?' 'Can he he co-exist , sharing the stardom with the Oilers other elite players?' All these are valid questions and for right now, only guesses.
Like the previous 2 #1 selections before him in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, people flooded the calls for Oilers jerseys to get their hands on a Nail Yakupov #64. I was no exception and the Nail Yakupov watch began in 'Oil Country'. The biggest debate was 'What position would he play? RW or LW where the need was?' NOTE: Nail Yakupov has tweeted he will remain with the #64 number rather then take #10 with Horcoff gone.
It did not take Yakupov long to get into stride in 'Oil Country' with timely goals and goal celebrations. This guy was getting the whole NHL talking, including players, NHL player agents, GM's, players themselves, broadcasters and most of all fans. Were his celebrations appropriate? Were they tasteful or disgraceful? Lots of questions were being raised about his poor defensive game as well in spite of his scoring touch. Being a young 1st year NHL player right out of jr with only 1/4 of a season in the KHL the expectations were high. His season took some lows but also ended with some extreme highs bringing to light the question 'What is his ceiling offensively and defensively?'
Nail Yakupov is a dedicated, hard working player who has put submerged himself into our community with family support and aims to be the best player he can possibly be.
No one can say Nail is shy and or non-fan friendly. Between his twitter account, his public appearances and easy access to get pictures, Yakupov has shown his followers he wants to give back and will make every effort to enjoy the life he has been afforded. Give Nail a tweet on twitter and if it is intriguing to him, maybe you will get a reply. He is like a rock star in Edmonton and back in Russia as well. He likes the attention and it doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Nail is about to get started again here in Edmonton on his early season skating and drills with the other Oiler boys. He's easy to get along with, is a great personality, loves our city and the team, wants to be a star and most importantly to Oiler fans....He just wants to 'score goals'!
Maybe if your lucky and fortunate, you will find Nail at a local Starbucks near you. Hoping to see him there? Where can you catch a glimpse of Nail drinking a latte? Maybe spend some time in some Edmonton SW Starbucks and you will see him come through.
All I can say is, it is so refreshing to have a personality on the Oilers who likes to talk, likes to interact with the fans and does not come over as rehearsed in what he says.
Next blog let's discuss more on the questions mentioned at the beginning of this post today. We will examine expectations, talk about predictions and discuss his game and where his future is headed.
In the meantime, keep your stick on the ice!