2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible standout Nail Yakupov is nearing his return.
Suffering a knee injury in Russia’s overtime loss in the gold medal game to Sweden on Jan. 5, the top prospect for the 2012 draft has yet to suit up for the Sarnia Sting in 2012. That could change this weekend.
Ready to return, Yakupov could be medically cleared for contact and play as early as this weekend, allowing the Nizhnekamsk native to compete against the Ottawa 67s Friday. It will be a boost to a Sarnia lineup that has been without fellow 2012 prospect Alex Galchenyuk, who is potentially lost for the season after undergoing surgery to repair his ACL in October.
His return could be a big boost for the 2012 Home Hardware Top Prospect’s Game in Kelowna Feb. 1. Named to the original roster for the event that pits the CHL’s top draft-eligible talent against each other, Yakupov’s injury at the World Juniors put his participation in doubt. Yakupov is currently listed on the roster of Team Cherry on the game’s website.
In 26 games this season, Yakupov has 21 goals and 53 points. In 65 games last season, the 18-year-old had 49 goals and 101 points in 65 games.