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Yakupov jubilant, emotional after Oilers selection

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
Pittsburgh, PA - The Edmonton Oilers kept them guessing at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. All the talk was surrounding the possibility of the club taking Ryan Murray from the start of the day until right before General Manager Steve Tambellini stepped up to the podium.

When he did step up to the podium, Tambellini selected the consensus No. 1 overall pick but because of all the speculation, he caught many by surprise.

"We purposely make sure that we don't get the ultimate decision until the end," said Tambellini. "That's a lot of work of video, rehashing strengths and weaknesses, how does it fit in with our team. It takes right to the end to make that decision."

That decision looks to be a great one as Nail Yakupov makes the Oilers' young, exciting offence that much more dynamic.

"When you look at the package, we talked about having elite skill within our organization and he's hungry to perform, hungry to score, he's an emotional player, an explosive player," Tambellini began. "For us, trying to think about what that's going to look like with Hopkins, Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Hemsky, it's exciting."

Taking the forward instead of the defenceman also means that the Oilers will be looking to retool on their blueline in the near future.

"There's a lot of things that still have to be done. We know that if we can, we're going to probably add another depth defenceman to the big club. You can't rest, thinking that you had a great selection in the draft that your team is going to take that major step just because of that young player coming into your organization."

Stu MacGregor also showed satisfaction with the choice made at the top spot in the draft.

"You work all year long and you pick what we perceive as the best player in the draft and a dynamic, offensive talent," MacGregor said, adding that it was a long road before coming to today's decision. "You waver all year long as you go through this long process but you finally get down to an end result where you make the decision.

"It's hard to pass up offensive talent."


Yakupov couldn't be happier that Tambellini decided to step up and make the choice to add him to the team's slate of outstanding young stars.

"I feel great. When I was young I never thought about NHL. I just watched it on TV. Two years ago, I still didn't think about it but now I'm excited. I can't even believe it," he said.

The winger choked back tears of joy as questions flooded in about getting to play games with future stars like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

"It's going to be a great team. I want to work hard and make the team," he exclaimed. "For now, I can't believe it!"

Oilers 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was on the stage when the selection was made. As a gifted playmaker, Nugent-Hopkins was thrilled at the chance to play with a talent like Nail.

"He's a good goal scorer. I like to move the puck to Jordan, Taylor, whoever, so it's going to be good to play with him and excited to get the chance."

Having been through the nerve-wracking gauntlet a year ago, it was calming for RNH to not have to worry about much this time around.

"It's pretty cool to be on the other side of it and see Nail get picked. It's exciting for him but it's also exciting for us, too. We're all excited to get a chance to play with him."

When asked if he was glad that it was all over, Yakupov grinned and had a great statement to sum it all up.

"It's not over, it's just starting."




North American Skater
Final Rank:  1 Midterm Rank:  1
Position:  RIGHT WING
Shoots:  LEFT
Height:  5' 10"
Weight:  189
Born:  OCTOBER 6, 1993

NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards
"His first step and ability to control bouncing pucks, knock them down and make a play are the best of any of the guys in the draft, in my opinion. He really gets up to top speed very quickly and his hands are outstanding. Like Pavel Bure, Yakupov is dangerous every shift. He may not have been dominant on every shift like Bure was, but he created something every shift … you have to be aware where he is on the ice all the time."


  • NHL team: Detroit and Vancouver
  • NHL player: Pavel Bure, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby
  • Shootout move: "It’s a secret"
  • Goal celebration: "I love to celebrate"
  • Video game: NHL '12
  • TV show: NHL Hockey and Russian TV
  • Actor: Jason Statham
  • Website:
  • Activity away from the rink: Hanging out with friends and teammates
  • Home-cooked meal: Pasta and chicken
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