MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti)
The lockout fate of the NHL's No. 1 draft pick Nail Yakupov will be decided Wednesday, an official with the Russian team trying to sign him told R-Sport on Tuesday.
Yakupov's Edmonton Oilers said it had assigned the 18-year-old forward to the Sarnia Sting, a Canadian major junior team, where he racked up 170 points in 107 games before being drafted in June.
But Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, the KHL team where Yakupov spent his formative years, insisted that was still far from being a done deal.
“Negotiations with Yakupov’s agent and the team are still being held. Let’s wait for one more day,” general director Rafik Yakubov told R-Sport.
The KHL has put rules in place to prevent lesser-known NHL players moving to the Russia-based league for the lockout period.
Yakupov does not meet the NHL ice time or previous KHL experience requirements, but would qualify by virtue of playing for Russia at the world junior championships in January, when his team lost 1-0 to Sweden in the final.
Neftekhimik is at the top of the KHL’s Eastern Conference after grabbing five victories in six starting games.
The deadline for averting a lockout passed Saturday after the NHL and the players’ association failed to agree terms on a new collective contract.
It sparked a flurry of trades, the highest-profile of which has been Evgeni Malkin's return to Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).