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Most would agree that it'd be highly unlikely that both the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets would pass on Nail Yakupov. After all, Yakupov has been the consensus number one pick for almost two years, and his stock hasn't dipped in that time. So, barring some unexpected draft selections from those teams, and assuming GM Marc Bergevin doesn't trade up for the number one pick, Yakupov doesn't seem destined to become a Canadien come Draft Day. Nonetheless, the talented Russian would certainly fill a need on Montreal's roster, and should be evaluated accordingly... if only to tease Habs' fans with the possibility of seeing Nail in the bleu, blanc et rouge.
Born October 6, 1993 - Nizhnekamsk, Russia
Height: 5'11" Weight: 190lb Shoots: Left
ISS Rank: 1 THN Rank: 1 McKeens Rank: 1
Although injuries may have limited Yakupov's point production this past year, it did nothing to quiet the hype surrounding the young Russian. Known primarily for his goal-scoring, Yakupov rounded out his game this year, and has become dangerous in all offensive situations. Nail possesses a great shot, slick hands and is an excellent skater. Despite his smaller stature, he doesn't shy away from the physical aspect of the game, and won't hesitate to get to the dirty areas of the ice. Nail is the type of player that could complement an already strong forward corps, or a team could very easily build a team around the talented Russian. Moroever, Nail is a charismatic young man, and quite comfortable addressing the media in English, a quality not to be overlooked.
Yakupov projects as a franchise winger, and if selected, would very likely step into Montreal's roster in 2012-2013. As Montreal is perennially perceived as "small", critics would likely bemoan Nail's smaller size, but his talent alone would improve Montreal's scoring ability, providing enough depth to roll 3 scoring lines. Although Montreal's lack of depth at centre needs addressing, the Habs could ill-afford to pass on the high-class talent Yakupov would provide. It goes without saying, if the Canadiens can find a way to acquire Yakupov without sacrificing any core roster components, Bergevin should pull the trigger.