The Edmonton Oilers have signed their No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov to a three-year, entry level contract, expecting the Russian right winger to be an integral part of the team for many years.
"We're very happy to sign Nail to a three-year contract," Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini said. "He's an extremely talented and passionate young man who we feel will be an integral part of our team for many years to come."
Financial details of the contract were not released.
The Oilers made Yakupov the first Russian-born player selected No. 1 at the NHL Draft since Alex Ovechkin went to the Washington Capitals in 2004.
"Edmonton is a great city and crazy town for hockey … it's a hockey town and I play hockey and I just want to play my best hockey," Yakupov said after being selected.
It was the third straight year that the Oilers had the No. 1 selection. In 2010, they selected left wing Taylor Hall center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011.
"Why not?" Yakupov when asked if he's ready for the NHL despite his young age of 18. "I think I'm ready for NHL. I want to try. I have whole summer to train and work with Edmonton. This is a great team, a young team, and they play good hockey. It'll be good playing with those players."
Yakupov, who played for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, entered the 2012 Draft as NHL Central Scouting's No. 1 overall North American skater.
He played 42 games for the Sting last year, producing 31 goals and 69 points with plus-15 rating and 12 power-play goals. But he was sidelined on four occasions due to back injury, knee injury, suspension and upper body ailment.
"I just want to just work and show how I can play hockey and help my team to win every game … that's what I want," Yakupov said.
In 2010-11, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound right wing had 101 points, including 49 goals in 65 games en route to being named the OHL Rookie of the Month three times as well as the OHL Rookie of the Year and BMO Rookie of the Year in the CHL.
He also won a silver medal with Team Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championship, notching a team-leading nine assists with a plus-5 rating in seven contests. Russia dropped a 1-0 overtime decision to Sweden in the gold-medal game.
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