CALGARY -- Sarnia Sting right wing Nikolay Goldobin knows all about Nail Yakupov and how he was selected first by the Edmonton Oilers at the 2012 NHL Draft.
Yakupov spent two seasons in Sarnia, totaling 31 goals and 69 points in 42 games during an injury-shortened 2011-12 season. As a rookie in 2010-11 he had 101 points to lead the Sting and all Ontario Hockey League first-year players. His scoring also surpassed Steven Stamkos' team records for goals (42) and points (92) by a Sarnia rookie.
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Does Goldobin consider himself the best Russian out of Sarnia since Yakupov?
"I want to be drafted high, in the top five," Goldobin told NHL.com. "We don't talk much about Yakupov but we do talk about his play in the NHL. It's been a big transition for me playing in Canada the last two seasons. In Canada the hockey is way faster than Russia."
Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said he feels Goldobin is one of the best goal-scorers available in the 2014 NHL Draft.
"The one thing he has in common with Yakupov is that you can see how ecstatic he is to score," Marr said. "When Central Scouting puts the list together we don't look at the players' passport. I'm not saying the team's do but they may have a different emphasis when they put their list together or when they're making their selections. As we've seen in the past some special players do tend to fall a little bit because there is some concern."
Goldobin was No. 14 on Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top draft-eligible North American skaters. He was the second-highest Russian-born skater on the North American list, behind No. 12 Ivan Barbashev of the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
"To me Goldobin is one of those players who can potentially get to the NHL sooner than other players taken ahead of him, but that's just because players develop at different degrees at this age group," Marr said. "He's got decent size (5-foot-11.5, 178 pounds) and has the attitude and personality that portrays an offensive game."