It was a tough 2015-16 season for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov.
Though he got off to a strong start to the season, accumulating 10 points (2G, 8A) in 11 games, November proved to be a challenging month for the 22-year-old when he sustained an ankle injury after he got tangled up with an official and fell to the ice in the Oilers 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
He missed 22 games as a result, with the injury sidelining the young forward for eight weeks.
Having returned home for the summer to be with family and friends, Yakupov said he is happy to be back in Edmonton and is ready for a new season in a new barn.
"It was a really good first day, it was really fast and we [got] our pace going right away," he said.
"This year we have an unbelievable rink, the most beautiful rink I've ever seen in my life, and I think I'm going to be so excited to play in this rink. [There are] a lot of new faces in the locker room, but I'm ready to play, ready to win and keep moving forward and try to do my best."
Drafted in the first round, number one overall, by the Oilers in the 2012 NHL draft, Yakupov recognizes that he will be entering his fifth year as an Oiler, but regardless of his tenure with the Edmonton NHL club, says it each new year is just as crucial as the last.
"Every year is really important," he said. "You don't want to go down… you always want to go hard. For me, since I was a kid, the work mentality was always like that. Hockey is my job, it's my hobby, it's my favourite thing."