|Born||October 6, 1993 |
Nizhnekamsk, Tatarstan, Russia
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight||186 lb (84 kg; 13 st 4 lb)|
|SKA Saint Petersburg|
St. Louis Blues
|NHL Draft||1st overall, 2012|
Nail Yakupov (born Nail Railovich Yakupov on October 6, 1993) is a Russian professional ice hockey forward who is currently playing with SKA Saint Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Nail was selected second overall by the Sarnia Sting in the 2010 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft. Prior to this, he played in the Russian Minor Hockey League (MHL) for his hometown team, Reaktor Nizhnekamsk, but thought that trying to join the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) would be a quicker path to his dream to play in the NHL.
On September 24, 2010, Nail scored his first OHL goal against the Windsor Spitfires. After winning OHL Rookie of the Month for the month of October, he participated in the 11 November game of the Subway Super Series for Team Russia at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario; Russia lost the game 4–0.
On February 3, 2011, Nail was named the 'Kal Tire OHL Rookie of the Month' for January, which he had previously won in October 2010. He later won the title for the month of February as well.
At the end of the season, he was named winner of the Emms Family Award as OHL Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Sting player to receive the honour. He was also named to the first All-Rookie team for the season.
On May 28th, Nail was also awarded the title for CHL Rookie of the Year, as the top rookie in the Canadian junior circuit.
On February 28, 2011, at 3:07 in the first period of a game against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, he scored his 43rd goal of the 2010–11 OHL season, giving him the new goal-scoring record for a rookie for the Sarnia Sting.
On March 19, 2011, in Sarnia's last game of the 2010–11 season, he scored an assist on the first goal as well as the third goal for Sarnia to obtain his 100th point of the season; he also scored another assist with 80 seconds left in the game to finish the season with 101 points.
Early in the 2011–12 season, Nail took the scoring lead with 25 points in 10 games. A 12-point week landed him CHL Player of the Week honours for the first time on 18 October 2011.
During the 2012 NHL Entry Draft on 23 June 2012, Yakupov was picked first overall by the Edmonton Oilers. On 23 July, the Oilers signed Yakupov to a three-year entry level contract.
As a result of the 2012–13 NHL lockout, the Oilers had assigned Nail to Sarnia for the 2012–13 season. However, reports indicated that he would instead return to Russia and play for HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Nail had played for the organization previously as a member of its junior teams. His first game with the team was on September 22, 2012 against Traktor Chelyabinsk.
After two games with Neftekhimik, he was temporarily suspended by the KHL, as the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) declared that he was not eligible to play in the league.
According to IIHF rules, players moving between teams in different countries need to have a transfer card signed by the outgoing national ice hockey federation and the incoming federation. Hockey Canada, the governing body of ice hockey in Canada, had not signed Nail's card, making him ineligible to play in Russia which required him to return to Canada and play with Sarnia for the remainder of the season.
The reason they stated was that Nail had signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers, and according to an NHL–CHL agreement, players who sign such contracts have to either play in the NHL or for their CHL teams.
Due to the NHL lockout, Nail could not play in the NHL and was therefore required to play in Sarnia. However, within a few days, Hockey Canada decided that he was free to return to Russia, and signed his card; they "determined that he had no independent legal advice when, at the age of 17 years, he signed his contract with Sarnia."
The lockout ended in January 2013 and Nail returned to North America to play for the Oilers.
A fan of Pavel Bure growing up, he wanted to have the #10 on his jersey (the same one Bure wore for most of his career). However, since Shawn Horcoff wore that number at the time, he chose to use #64 instead as the two digits added up to 10.
On January 20, 2013, Nail played his first NHL game in the first Oilers game against the Vancouver Canucks. He scored his first goal during the next game, the Oilers' home opener, against Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks on January 22, 2013.
On April 27, 2013, Nail recorded his first career hat trick in a 7–2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, with all three goals coming in the third period.
He finished his rookie season leading all rookies in goals with 17, and tied with Jonathan Huberdeau for points with 31. He also scored 11 goals in the month of April, second only to fellow countryman Alexander Ovechkin.
St. Louis Blues
On October 7, 2016, Nail's tenure with the Oilers ended in the lead up to the 2016–17 season, as he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for prospect Zach Pochiro and a conditional third-round pick in 2017 (the condition was Yakupov scoring 15 or more goals for St. Louis in 2016–17, which he didn't).
After attending training camp and pre-season, Nail made the Blues opening night roster, making his debut in a 5–2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on October 12, 2016. In his next game the following day, he scored his first goal with the Blues and added an assist in a 3–2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
After initially providing an offensive spark with 4 points in his first 6 games, Nail's contributions dried up and he was made a healthy scratch by the Blues 12th game under head coach Ken Hitchcock. Appearing in a depth role with the Blues, he was exposed to limited ice time.
After Hitchock's departure, Nail appeared in just 11 further games out of 27 after he was made a frequent healthy scratch by Mike Yeo. His season was ended prematurely after suffering a knee injury, which required surgery, against the Colorado Avalanche on March 31, 2017. He completed his season with 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points in 40 games, all career lows.
Nail was set to be a restricted free agent, but with a $2.5 million qualifying offer the Blues declined to renew, which made him an unrestricted free agent.
Despite gaining KHL interest, he was determined to continue in the NHL. On July 4, 2017, he signed a one-year, $875,000 contract with the Colorado Avalanche.
Return to the KHL
As a free agent, Nail opted to leave the NHL and return to Russia to further develop his game. He agreed to a two-year contract with perennial contending club, SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL on July 3, 2018.
Regular season and playoffs
|2016–17||St. Louis Blues||NHL||40||3||6||9||14||—||—||—||—||—|
|2018–19||SKA Saint Petersburg||KHL||47||23||10||33||30||18||4||4||8||12|
Awards & Achievements
- OHL Rookie of the Month (November 4, 2010, February 3, 2011 and March 4, 2011)
- OHL First All-Rookie Team (April 7, 2011)
- OHL Rookie of the Year (April 7, 2011)
- BMO Rookie of the Year (CHL) (May 28, 2011)
- CHL Player of the Week (October 18, 2011)
- OHL Player of the Month (October 2011)
- NHL Rookie of the Month (April 2013)
|Competitor for Template:Country data Russia|
|Men's ice hockey|
|World Junior Championships|
|World Junior U18 Championships|
Nail was part of Team Russia in the 2011 World Junior U18 championship. He scored a hat trick in the bronze-medal game, including an empty-net goal with four seconds left, helping defeat Team Canada (with Sting teammate Brett Ritchie) 6-4.
He was part of the 2011-12 World Junior Championship, joining Team Russia. Nail's team defeated Canada in the semifinals, but they lost 1-0 to Sweden in the gold medal game, acquiring a silver medal.
Nail's father Rail worked with the HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk hockey team as a coach and executive.
He began skating when he was 4 years old, but he was more interested in football and Chelsea FC than hockey.
Nail is an ethnic Tatar and a Muslim. With his draft selection, he surpassed Nazem Kadri as being the highest drafted Muslim player in NHL history.