Nail Yakupov's star is on the rise 

July, 18, 2011

Put simply, if the 2012 draft were held tomorrow, Nail Yakupov would go first overall. And there's a good shot that if he had been eligible for the 2011 draft (his birthday fell only a few weeks after the eligibility cutoff), he would have been a few teams' pick over Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or in the mix for the top five at the very least. Perhaps even more impressive, he has shown the talent and commitment to play in North America that could thaw the deep freeze between NHL general managers and Russian prospects in recent years.