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Yakupov will return Friday for Sarnia

by Mike G. Morreale
Nail Yakupov, the top-ranked skater on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North Americans, will rejoin the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League on Friday following an eight-game absence.

According to Sportsnet Canada, Sarnia coach and general manager Jacques Beaulieu confirmed on Thursday that Yakupov would suit up against the Ottawa 67's. He had been sidelined since Jan. 5 after suffering a knee injury in the gold medal game of the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Yakupov has made the most of the time he's spent on the ice in Sarnia this season, connecting for 21 goals and 53 points in 26 OHL games. The 5-foot-10 1/2, 189-pound right wing won a silver medal for Russia at the WJC after producing 9 assists and a plus-4 rating in seven games.

His teammate in Sarnia, Alex Galchenyuk, was believed to be out the entire regular season after undergoing ACL surgery. But, according to a report in The London Free Press on Jan. 24, he could return March 1.

Both players are considered to be very high on the draft lists of every NHL scout and general manager come June.

Yakupov is currently in his second OHL season. In 2010-11, he broke Steven Stamkos' Sarnia records for a first-year player with 49 goals and 101 points.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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