The Edmonton Oilers own the first pick in the 2012 NHL Draft and it is expected by just about everyone that they will select Nail Yakupov at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Friday, June 22. The 18-year old Russian has done everything necessary to make the world believe that he is the next star of the sport.
SB Nation's Minnesota Wild blog, Hockey Wilderness, summarizes Yakupov's strengths as a prospect:
"He's a phenomenal skater, he has a deadly shot along with great vision and passing, and loves to play with energy and physicality. He'll get the crowd standing, and he's a great character on and off the ice. Yes, he's a Russian but he is already two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and is almost guaranteed a spot in the NHL; there is no incentive for him to go back home."
At just 5-11, 190 pounds, he is a little small for an NHL player and with knee troubles already in his young career, his selection will not come without risk. However, that isn't slowing the scouts down from declaring Yakupov an elite talent. Via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Penguins director of amateur scouting Jay Heinbuck said, "He's just one of those special players. They don't come along very often."
Yakupov was the first overall selection in the 2012 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, and it would nothing short of shocking if the result wasn't the same tonight in Pittsburgh when Yakupov is expected to become a member of the Oilers.