An unsigned International Transfer Card (ITC) has forced Nail Yakupov off the ice.
Yakupov, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, had been playing with his hometown team, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, in the Kontinental Hockey League, but the International Ice Hockey Federation ruled he had illegally played -- because of the lack of a valid ITC -- in the two KHL games in which he appeared.
Hockey Canada did not sign the ITC because it believes Yakupov's rights belong to the Sarnia Sting, the junior team for whom he played the past two seasons and for whom he is still eligible to play this season. Yakupov is 18 years old and still has junior eligibility, according to the Canadian Hockey League, which oversees the three Major Junior Hockey leagues in the country.
"[We] cannot sign the international transfer card for Nail Yakupov until the Sarnia Sting releases this player from his contract," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said. "If Sarnia advises Hockey Canada that it has released the player, Hockey Canada will sign his transfer card."
Sarnia has yet to comment on the matter.
Tuesday, the sport's governing body levied a fine of 5,000 Swiss francs against the Russian hockey federation as punishment for allowing Yakupov to play in the KHL without proper documentation. It also warned of stiffer penalties for both the player and federation if it happened again.