MOSCOW, September 29 (RIA Novosti)
This year's NHL No. 1 draft pick Nail Yakupov has been cleared to play in the KHL after the Russian Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada settled a conflict over his lockout transfer from the Edmonton Oilers.
The 18-year-old budding star was suspended by the International Ice Hockey Federation after playing two games for KHL team Neftkhimik Nizhnekamsk without an international transfer card from Hockey Canada.
But after negotaiations in Tokyo at the IIHF congress, the two hockey federations reached an accord.
"As a result of the talks, our talented forward received permission to play in Russia during the lockout in the National Hockey League," a statement on the Russian Hockey Federation website said.
When the lockout broke, the Edmonton Oilers had intended to send Yakupov to Canadian major junior team Sarnia Sting, where he had racked up 170 points in 107 games before being drafted.
Yakupov was one of three Russians to appear in the first round of the draft, the strongest showing by the country since 2001, when forward Ilya Kovalchuk became No. 1 overall pick for the Atlanta Thrashers, center Alexander Svitov was third, selected by Tampa Bay, and winger Stanislav Chistov was fifth, going to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Neftekhimik, placed third in the Eastern Conference, lost both its matches starring Yakupov: 3-1 to Traktor Chelyabinsk and 7-2 to Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
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