Colorado Avalanche Acquire Nail Yakupov as Top-6 Forward

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 13: Nail Yakupov
ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 13: Nail Yakupov /

The Colorado Avalanche acquired another forward, right wing Nail Yakupov, in free agency. Yakupov is tagged as a top-six forward by the team.

The Colorado Avalanche have signed right wing Nail Yakupov on the fourth day of free agency. This marks the team’s sixth signing, but only the third of a bona fide NHL player.

Colorado signed Yakupov on a simple, one-year contract with just an $875,000 cap hit. He’s coming off a two-year contract with a $2.5 million cap hit.

Though he comes cheap, Nakupov is something of a controversial acquisition. Let’s find out about the Avs’ newest right wing.

About Nail Yakupov

Age: 23
Height: 5’11”
Weight:195 lbs.
Shoots: Left
Previous Contract: 2 years, AAV $2.5 million
Previous Team: St. Louis Blues (mostly the Edmonton Oilers)

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Right wing Nail Yakupov was one of many first-overall draft picks the Edmonton Oilers enjoyed this decade. They chose him first-overall in 2012.

He has five years of experience, four of those years with the Oilers. He was traded to the Blues last October. Yakupov has 53 goals and 67 assists in 292 NHL games.

Yakupov is basically the poor man’s Mikhail Grigorenko. He excelled in the lower levels, but he’s been a perennial underachiever in the NHL. It’s said that he lacks focus and consistency. He’s been known to take shifts off. (But he’s coming in at just over half the price of Grigorenko last season.)

That said, Yakupov has so much potential. He’s young and speedy. His puck skills are fantastic. He can be both a sniper and a playmaker.

Here’s Yakupov’s first goal as a Blues player:

Extra points for it being against the Minnesota Wild.

Here’s Yakupov scoring then doing an impression of former Avalanche forward Theo Fleury:

Speaking of Yakupov interacting with Avalanche forward, here he is getting into a little scrum with

Matt Duchene


Well, that’s awkward.

Nail Yakupov also has a hat trick to his name:

This was in his rookie season, which was his best season.

Related Story: Avs Could Trade for Yakupov

Yakupov and the Colorado Avalanche

Nail Yakupov is just the Colorado Avalanche’s style of player — small, speedy, skilled and a potential diamond in the rough. The team so loves to try and tease out what other teams were unable to reach. (Not just Grigorenko — remember Jordan Caron?)

There’s no question Yakupov has potential. He’s never been able to recapture his rookie season magic (31 points in 48 games), but at least he had that magic in the NHL — neither Grigorenko nor Caron could say that.

Apparently the Avs had their eye on Yakupov for a while:

What’s more, Sakic is apparently considering Nail Yakupov for the top two lines:

He’s speedy. It makes sense to put him with Nathan MacKinnon and/or Matt Duchene. If you want more of a complementary lineup, he could go with Gabriel Landeskog and Colin Wilson. In fact, Colorado has a dearth of right wings, so picking up Yakupov helps fill that need.

In any case, the one-year contract the Colorado Avalanche extended to Nail Yakupov is very low-risk. Yes, he could have a season like last year — 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists). That’s one point better than Joe Colborne, who made triple that salary and played 18 more games.

Next: Avs Relying on Prospects Next Year

So, Yakupov might not do much with the team. But he might — we can always relish in the gamble.