Nail Yakupov is a rookie in a very good league, the KHL. So when he’s named rookie of the week, it’s a pretty big deal, right? Nail Yakupov’s first 4 games in the KHL saw him score 3 goals, a healthy clip at any level. How are we to compare Yakupov’s accomplishments in the faraway league to past snipers?

The KHL’s website has the news (wonderful site, easy to navigate, never buggers up, bet the NHL loves the traffic they’re getting) and states about our guy "played in two games, scored three goals and averaged 17 minutes and 53 seconds on the ice." What they don’t say is that the kid had to run the rapids caused by Sarnia, the CHL and the IIHF in order to get the opportunity.  This kid really is as good as advertised. Confident, with swagger, but clearly his priority is to play hockey and earn his place in the game. 

Andrey Osadchenko has been telling us Yakupov’s story all along and it’s pretty terrific all by its lonesome. However, add the back story to the front line performance and we’re talking about a guy who is emerging as the entire package: great young player, terrific attitude and a child’s passion for the game.


Yakupov’s ability and charisma aside, what are we to make of this start and how do we compare it to the brilliant teenagers of the past? We can’t compare him to NHL rookie seasons from Hall, Skinner and others because the KHL of today is not at the level of the National Hockey League before it went legal. The KHL of today is however better than last year’s version, so a 20-goal campaign in 2012-13 for Nail isn’t really comparable to last season’s group.

We do have the last lockout year, and that’s what I’ve chosen for comparables. Even at that, the KHL didn’t have many 18-year olds scoring a bunch but here’s a list of those who wowed Moscow in 2004-05:

  • Alexander Ovechkin (18) 37, 13-14-27 .730
  • Evgeni Malkin (18) 52, 12-20-32 .615
  • Viktor Alexandrov (18) 50, 8-10-18 .360
  • Enver Lisin (18) 53, 8-4-12 .226

Yakupov’s current totals (4, 3-0-3) would have him at the top of the table, but with only 4GP that’s a ridiculous claim. Suffice to say he’s in good company. One quick item before we move on: Ovechkin and Malkin are listed as 18-years old above as listed by hockeydb. I am aware of the gap in their ages, but the dividing date has them both playing their 18-year old seasons at the same time on hockeydb.


This kid is like a breath of fresh air, and he’s good! This season is so bass ackwards because of the lockout its easy to pass over a small item like rookie of the week in the KHL. It is early but he’s tracking extremely well. I’m running out of adjectives to describe all these number one picks–maybe we should be more like the Eskimo-Aleut languages who have 50 words for snow.

No matter, it all adds up to another stunning rookie. This time, he gets to play at home. Our loss, but the quality is once again a joy to behold.

  • Lowetide

    Not really a fair way to grade Murray, I’m sure you’d agree. Kyle woodlief and others said just ahead of the draft that the Oilers were probably the first lottery winners to rue the win.

    I don’t think Oiler fans feel that way now. Do they? I sure as hell hope not.

  • RexLibris

    I was elated when they picked Yak.

    I thought the scouts were going to draft for need and pick Murray the defender.After picking Yak they proceeded to draft tough power forwards which was seen to be another need.

    They probably show Ovechkin and Malkin as 18 yr olds because they were both picked in 2004.Ovechkin just missed the 2003 draft by a few days and Malkin was a younger 2004.

    • Lofty

      And then Schultz signed on which satisfies a defensive need. With Kelfboms arrows pointing up as well as Musil, the D should be much improved in a couple years.

      I would always rather pick the more predictable forward position than D. Worst case scenario, A Hall or Eberle could be traded for an established, young,very good D-man. In another year Nuge or Yak could provide a great defensive return once more established.

      I don’t want to see any of these great forwards traded but they increase the trade equity in the line-up… much better than gambling on D that is less predictable and is a much bigger gamble. I really hope these 4 stay Oilers for a long time but they are increasing the value of the franchise if a move needs to be made for back end help.

  • I’m so glad they took Yakupov. He’s going to be ridiculously good, superstar potential. Murray is going to be a number 2 maybe number 3 defenseman. You can’t take a number 2 defenseman over a number one winger. Plus the Oilers have a current organizational need for defenseman but won’t in the near future with J Schultz, Klefbom, Marincin, Musil, Petry, and Smid plus other quality depth defenseman. So drafting a defensemen for current organizational need is not very wise seeing as how he wouldn’t be into his prime for years. Yakupov is going to be awesome.

  • Spydyr

    I was so happy when they picked Yak number one.
    The day Schultz signed was a close second this off season.

    By drafting Yak perhaps it helped Schultz make his decision to sign here.

    Does Schultz still sign here if they had taken Murray number one.

    Guess we will never know.

  • RexLibris

    LT, sometimes I think you write articles as a pretense for posting pictures of Ms. Johansson.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Keep them coming!

    I was in the Galchenyuk camp before the draft, but Yakupov was a second choice for me. Unless I know that the player is Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermeyer, I take the forward.

    Of course you could always trade down and take the lanky center out of an Eastern high school.

    I kid, I kid.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Gah! All this awesome oiler rookie success. I want this lockout to end and watch the crazyness unfold in the copper and blue jerseys.

    I hate the greediness, but I do like articles like these hyping up the players who will eventually return to dominate.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Robinbrownlee you wrote..”How are we to compare Yakupov’s accomplishments in the faraway league to past snipers?”

    After four games? We shouldn’t.

    While I understand what your saying, its conversation and something to be excited about. What else are we supposed to discuss? Lockout? Local minor hockey? This city is excited about our young prospects and its all we have to be excited about. How they are tracking helps us pass these days away.

    Having said that, I do agree with your reasoning but we know that should Nail have no points , this city would be wondering how he compares to other prospects. When can you start making comparisons? 10 games, 20 games, 40 games? Tracking at following comparable is always a good sign however and Lowetide has done a awesome job at it.