Nail Yakupov: An Oiler, even in Russia

Andrey Osadchenko
September 18 2012 11:04AM

The whole story is in these two Nail Yakupov tweets, really. A few days after Yakupov landed in Russia, he said in his own language ‘My beloved Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk’. Then he added a smiley face and an exclamation mark. Oh, Russians and their smiley faces…

Despite the Oilers assigning Yakupov back to Sarnia, the truth is that he’s going to spend at least some of this season in the KHL playing for his hometown team.

‘We’re only going to sign one NHL player for the lockout – Nail Yakupov,’ Neftekhimik’s GM Rafik Yakubov (no confusion here whatsoever) told Sovetsky Sport. ‘He’s going to be in Russia this Monday. Our team is currently in Astana. We have to add Yakupov to our roster. It may take a whole day. It is possible that Yakupov will play for our team already this Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod. It’s really hard to tell now. Let the guy fly over first and pass his medical.’

A few hours later it was reported that Yakupov successfully made the trip, discussed his contract details with the team and is about to sign the papers. Neftekhimik got 2 points on the road with a 3-2 victory in OT.

Now, just what sort of a team is this Neftekhimik? First thing you may want to know is that the team’s name translates as ‘Oil Chemist’. So it’s still okay to call Yakupov an Oiler. As for chemistry, it’s hard to tell with whom he’s going to be working on it in Nizhnekamsk. There are only so few names on his new team a North American fan would recognize.

One of them is surely a former Capitals draft pick Oskar Osala. Canucks fans may recognize a 28-year-old Belorussian defenseman Denis Grot – he was picked by Vancouver in 2002 55th overall. There’s also former Tampa Bay prospect Martin Cibak and former Blackhawks winger Pavel Vorobiev (drafted 11th overall in 2000). Defenseman Renat Mamashev played one season in the WHL for the Moose Jaw Warriors and his partner on the blue line, Andrei Plekhanov, played a few seasons in AHL and ECHL as a Blue Jackets prospect.

If you follow international hockey, you may recognize Neftekhimik’s goalie Maxim Sokolov. 40-year-old veteran played for Team Russia at 6 World Championships, 2004 World Cup and 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. 30-year-old center Petr Koukal played for Team Czech Republic at 2 World Championships, including the latest one in Stockholm and Helsinki. Also, defenseman Maxim Berezin was on a gold-medal winning Team Russia at the 2011 World Juniors in Buffalo, NY.

Neftekhimik plays in a small town of Nizhnekamsk, which is located in Tatarstan region of Russia. The team was always in the shadow of its ‘big brother’ – Ak Bars Kazan. The latter located in the capital city of the region and is much better off financially, which helped the team to win 2 consecutive Gagarin Cups in 2009 and 2010.

Last season Neftekhimik didn’t make the playoffs, but is currently tied for first place in the league with 14 points in six games.

Last week Neftekhimik lost their captain and arguably best player Maxim Pestushko to injury. 27-year-old right winger is projected to miss 20 games. That creates an opportunity for Yakupov to fill Pestushko’s spot and play some top-line minutes.

Even though, as of now, it’s hard to tell with precise what Yakupov’s ice-time is going to be, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he’s going to be given a lot of it. Running on a low budget, Neftekhimik is forced to give their young players a decent chance to show what they’re capable of, which is something Yakupov needs the most now.

You spent the entire summer thinking what Nail’s going to look like in pro hockey. Well, it appears you didn’t wait for nothing – he’s going to play in the best league in the world (hands down for the time being), wear a blue uniform and proudly call himself an Oiler. The only difference is the time difference. In case you wonder, it’s 10 hours.

PREVIOUSLY BY ANDREY OSADCHENKO

037e43b539fffeb0780fabd36a5982c4
Russian hockey reporter who moved to Canada to find himself right in the middle of hockey madness. @AOsadchenko
Avatar
#1 Spydyr
September 18 2012, 11:19AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Fist to say come back healhty Yak

Avatar
#2 John Chambers
September 18 2012, 11:36AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Nice article. Looking forward to updates on the KHL, Andrey. In fact, I would be interested to see KHL updates even in years where there isn't a lockout just to better understand what's going on in leagues around the world.

Andrey - do you follow Bandy?

Avatar
#3 striatic
September 18 2012, 11:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

keep us up to date on how yakupov is doing through his first few games.

i think this is better than him going to Sarnia, especially if he is getting top line minutes.

Avatar
#4 I'm a Scientist!
September 18 2012, 12:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I just had to have a look at where our little Yak will be growing up... Here is a YouTube video on Nizhnekamsk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3FbWOeCMwk

Similar look to Edmonton right now, lots of apartments. The transition from there to here should be flawless once/if the season starts.

Avatar
#5 Fisher
September 18 2012, 12:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I hope either Katz loans him a private jet, or his team takes the bus everywhere. Yikes for travel.

Avatar
#6 striatic
September 18 2012, 12:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Avatar
#7 RexLibris
September 18 2012, 12:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
John Chambers wrote:

Nice article. Looking forward to updates on the KHL, Andrey. In fact, I would be interested to see KHL updates even in years where there isn't a lockout just to better understand what's going on in leagues around the world.

Andrey - do you follow Bandy?

Now that is a man's sport. How about using Bandy to determine the CBA negotiations?

Each side put forth a proposal. If no agreement is reached, then a marathon game of Bandy is played with the PA negotiation members (with the NHL players substituted with the shadowy leaders of the CHLPA) versus Bettman and his Band of Merry Men.

That might be worth getting the Center Ice package just to watch.

Avatar
#8 Jamie B.
September 18 2012, 02:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
striatic wrote:

interesting .. Yakupov is being denied his KHL transfer:

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/nail-yakupov-other-nhl-players-facing-iihf-transfer-174309411--nhl.html

If that speculation in that article is correct and the IIHF doesn't want to piss off the NHL, as a fan, I'd rather the European Oilers were playing. If they're not allowed (I can't imagine the IIHF could pull that off, they're probably just not doing anything in a hurry), will it increase the pressure to get a deal done? Possibly, but I'd still rather guys like Hemsky, Smid and Yakupov start the season off flying, whenever that is. With a shortened season, a good start is going to be even more important to teams. Besides, if those Euro teams can win a few games it'll help remind our guys what that feels like (the reason I'm okay with all the guys in OKC).

As for injuries, well, that could happen training too. Meh. They're Oilers, it happens.

Avatar
#9 Wanye
September 18 2012, 03:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Great article! I LIKE LEARNING I LIKE YAKY I HATE LOCKOUT

Avatar
#10 pelhem grenville
September 18 2012, 04:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Comrade Nail " The Oil Chemist " Yakupov

damn... I was going to see him play in Sarnia

Avatar
#11 @Oilanderp
September 18 2012, 08:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

http://en.khl.ru/

http://imtranslator.net/translate-and-speak/

Avatar
#12 Reg Dunlop
September 19 2012, 01:27AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

'Let the guy fly over first and pass his medical'. I can imagine that scene, with a doctor, cigarette hanging out of his mouth like Forrest Gump's doctor, hepatitis-infected syringes strewn about, a dog barking in the hallway, industrial grime coating the window blocking the view of a rainy, overcast sky and a nuclear power plant across the street beside a school...

Avatar
#13 ubermiguel
September 19 2012, 09:51AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jamie B. wrote:

If that speculation in that article is correct and the IIHF doesn't want to piss off the NHL, as a fan, I'd rather the European Oilers were playing. If they're not allowed (I can't imagine the IIHF could pull that off, they're probably just not doing anything in a hurry), will it increase the pressure to get a deal done? Possibly, but I'd still rather guys like Hemsky, Smid and Yakupov start the season off flying, whenever that is. With a shortened season, a good start is going to be even more important to teams. Besides, if those Euro teams can win a few games it'll help remind our guys what that feels like (the reason I'm okay with all the guys in OKC).

As for injuries, well, that could happen training too. Meh. They're Oilers, it happens.

First the NHL pisses off fans, now the IIHF is trying to piss off the fans. We just want to watch great players play hockey...is that too much to ask?

Comments are closed for this article.