“He himself does not know how good it can be.” Yakupov in Avangard is waiting for the best season of his career?


“He himself does not know how good it can be.” Yakupov in Avangard is waiting for the best season of his career?

The story of Nail Yakupov is probably known to everyone who follows hockey a little. Almost 10 years ago, a graduate of Neftekhimik was considered the most talented and brightest young player in the world, Edmonton chose him as the first draft pick, but then Nail’s career was saturated with disappointment. In America, he did not reveal himself either in the Oilers or in other teams (although there were chances), and upon returning to Russia, he did not live up to SKA’s hopes and last summer, it would seem, was finally written off to the sidelines.

In October, Yakupov, for whom his name still worked, still ended up in the top club. Nail was given another opportunity to start from scratch at Avangard: the forward started brightly, scoring in the first two matches for the new team, but then disappeared into the Hawks, and in January he ended the season altogether due to health problems.

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During the championship playoffs, Yakupov was almost the main star of the Avangard dressing room, pushing motivational speeches and creating the right atmosphere. But Nail did not go out on the ice, and after the end of the championship, the topic of his future should have become aggravated again. However, the club did not give a single reason for speculation regarding the future fate of the hockey player and already on April 30, two days after winning the Gagarin Cup, announced the extension of the contract with Yakupov.

Why did Avangard decide to bet on Nail? In my opinion, there are several reasons. Firstly, Yakupov showed himself perfectly in the team, and this is always very important when we talk about building a serious, ambitious team. Nail was his own man in the locker room and helped his partners in the playoffs as much as he could, bringing positive and driving spirit. Secondly, the health problems of the hockey player were resolved with the direct participation of the club doctors, so in this sense, the risks for Avangard, although not excluded, are minimized.

Thirdly, Yakupov agreed to sign a two-year agreement, and this will help Omsk general manager Alexei Volkov to recruit the squad in which Avangard will return home in a year. Fourthly, immediately after winning the championship, Volkov knew the scale of losses in the attacking line of the hawks, and it would be strange to delay Yakupov’s extension: the market is meager, and here at hand there is a skilled striker adapted to the club, whose motivation is next season will go off scale.

Actually, Nail did not wait for September to declare his highest ambitions. Yakupov approached the first summer match in a crazy shape, thanks to which he stood out against the background of his partners. In the next test meetings, Nail did not lower the bar at all, and now it seems that he is really ready to become the leader of Avangard in the new season.

Bob Hartley
head coach of Avangard

“I am happy for Yakupov, he had a difficult period. He appeared in preseason in incredible shape, was completely ready and set to work. It seems to me that Nail does not even know himself how good he can be. “

I am perfectly aware that so far these are only words and the next portion of advances issued in advance. I understand that similar situations, when a breakthrough was expected from Yakupov, and he was disappointing, were already in his career. But why doesn’t Nail really reboot now and have the best season of his career?

After all, the hockey player has everything for this. They play him in the first line (while with Knight and Tseglarik), give a lot of ice in the majority, where Yakupov usually takes a position to complete attacks on the patch. From an everyday and psychological point of view, Nail is satisfied with everything in Avangard, after solving medical issues he has a high level of loyalty to the Omsk club. Let’s not forget about the motivation based on banal human pride: in the spring Yakupov raised the Gagarin Cup over his head, but he didn’t play a second in the playoffs.

In August, Nail is very good. Such an assertive, impudent sturdy fellow, willingly going into the fight, running very quickly and perfectly eating up moments on the patch. I would add Yakupov to realizations from pure ice, and here he is – potentially the best sniper of Avangard next season. Nail feels comfortable within the framework of Hartley’s requirements, who actively supports the ward, lights up in the locker room and, in general, shows with all his looks that he enjoys what is happening to him now. And this is incredibly important for such a naturally driven person as Nail.

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But this is in August. We can only guess what will happen in the season. After all, as far as Yakupov is driving, he is so unstable. However, I repeat, Nail has the prerequisites for a better season in his career, and I really want them to be confirmed. After all, the peak Yakupov is a plus not only for Avangard, but for the entire KHL, where every year there are fewer non-standard, unconventional, bright hockey players that the viewer can walk on.

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