Who Is Nail Yakupov?

As I’m sure you know by now, Nail Yakupov is the consensus top prospect in this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft. Based on what I’ve read and heard, it seems most Oiler fans want Steve Tambellini to say Yakupov’s name when he announces the first overall pick on Friday night.

(By the way, please answer our poll question on the lower right of this page: “What should the Oilers do with the 2012 first overall pick?”)

If Yakupov is going to become an Oiler in a few days, I think we should know a bit more about him. Here are a few lesser known facts about Nail Yakupov.

  • Yakupov is potentially the first NHL star from the Republic of Tartarstan (a federal subject of Russia). The unofficial motto of Tartarstan is We Can!
  • Pavel Bure was Yakupov’s favorite hockey player as a child. Many scouts now compare Yakupov’s playing style to Bure’s.
  • Yakupov has two girlfriends, “one in Russia and one in Sarnia.” (I think he was joking.)
  • Yakupov is a Muslim.
  • The correct pronunciation of “Nail” is Na-HEEL. If Yakupov insists that his name be pronounced correctly, it will surely be a great disappointment to the “Prince of Puns,” Sportsnet’s Gene Principe. Classic lines, such as, “Yakupov nailed his first NHL test,” will be lost forever. **UPDATE** I sent a tweet to Principe mentioning the correct pronunciation of “Nail.” He replied in a direct message saying, “Jonathan, I refuse to listen to correct pronunciation. Why let the facts stand in the way of a good/bad pun.” So if the Oilers draft Yakupov, it looks like we can expect lots of “Nail” puns from Gene.
  • Yakupov thinks Don Cherry is a “cool guy.”
  • You can follow Yakupov on Twitter: @Nail10_1993. (At least I think that’s his official account.)
  • Yakupov has an interesting taste in shirts.

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