2012 NHL Entry Draft: Nail Yakupov Prospect Profile

It's that time of year again. Even though the NHL playoffs are only halfway done, they have been over for many fans of the Senators for a few weeks. The offseason in hockey may feel like it lasts almost as long as the Director's Cut of the Titanic, but it is mercifully interrupted by the NHL Entry Draft, held at the end of June. So, after spending the last fortnight tearfully reminiscing a very entertaining season gone by, it's time to emerge from our state of semi-hibernation and start draft analyzing. So, don't remind yourself the Rangers are still in the playoffs. Instead, start prognosticating!

A few months after one of the biggest drafts in franchise history, Sens fans were already turning dejectedly to the next one. In retrospect, five games into the season may have been a wee early to start the Fail for Nail campaign, but there's no harm in revisiting it now.

Nail Yakupov is no late riser in draft rankings. He has sat comfortably as the anticipated top pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft during the entirety of his season this year with the Sarnia Sting. However, the added pressure and attention of a top pick, not to mention an injury-shortened campaign, has not resulted in Yakupov experiencing the Sean Couturier drop. Save for some wild conjecture that the Edmonton Oilers might throw all caution (and logic) to the winds and select Ryan Murray, the star forward will be the first pick of this year's draft.

The Player:

Nail Yakupov is one heck of a hockey player. That's really all there is to it: he's strong on the puck, fast, powerful and with an absolute rocket of a shot. Yakupov's strengths are well known, as pundits, analysts and fans have been raving about this kid all year long. We could harp on about the player's tremendous offensive dynamism till the cows come home (or Filatov returns from the KHL. Zing!), but almost countless others have already done an admirable job of it. Here's a sampling:

As a Senator:

Well, he won't be one. At least for the foreseeable future. There is no question Yakupov would assume the role as top prospect in the system, the only true question is whether there would be any prospects behind him on the list after Murray traded up. Although perhaps a little more inclined to cut a deal this year, the Oilers were sniffing around Ottawa's Norris Trophy Candidate defenseman eleven months ago-- and that was presuming the Senators would also offer up the sixth overall pick to accompany Erik on his way to Edmonton. At this rate, what would the Senators really be able to offer that the Oilers would want to take? And don't you dare say Patrick Wiercioch.

Any team would love to have a player like Yakupov in their system, but the cost is either a bevy of top picks, players or prospects, or a whole season of suck. Any avenue to get a top player like this is worth exploring, but that's about it. Yet, it's certainly worth posing the question anyway: assuming the Senators are interested, what would you give up for the pick?

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