SUN Hockey Pool

Nugent-Hopkins figures Yakupov fits

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:43 AM ET

PITTSBURGH - As they say in the school yard, it takes one to know one.

So when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tells you that Nail Yakupov is a game-breaker worth the price of admission, you'd best pay attention.

"I think Nail is going to be a great addition to the team," said the Oilers Calder trophy candidate, who was up on stage when Edmonton selected the electrifying Russian first overall. "It's exciting, it'll be good to get the chance to play with him.

"He's a great, dynamic player. I've watched some clips on him. He's going to be a great addition. He'll fit in pretty well."

He'll be fitting in on a team that now has an embarrassment of riches at forward with Yakupov joining Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and a healthy Ales Hemsky.

"It'll be interesting to see who's playing with who and on which lines," said Nugent-Hopkins. "That's something that will form itself over time. I'm sure everybody will be happy to play with each other, there's a lot of great talent."

The goal now, he said, is to turn all of that talent into a winner.

"We just want to keep on getting better as a team. When we get to camp our goal is gong to be making the playoffs from training camp on."

Nugent-Hopkins, who said he found out about 10 minutes before the pick that Edmonton was going with Yakupov instead of Ryan Murray, says watching the draft from the other side of the handshake was a blast.

"A lot different than last year," he said. "No pressure, no nerves. It's definitely cool. Way different scenario. It's kind of fun to see things from this side of the spectrum. I was kind of watching as a fan today."

Seems like only yesterday people were wondering what kind of NHLer he was going to be. Now they know.

"It doesn't seem like a year ago," laughed the 19-year-old. "It was pretty exciting, hearing your name being called, it was a memory that will stick with me forever. You don't really get too much sleep that night because yo're so excited. It's kid of the same through the whole draft week, you don't sleep very much, but it's pretty exciting."

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ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca


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