EDMONTON - Nail Yakupov is fine.
He’s always been fine.
The Edmonton Oilers first overall pick in this summer’s NHL draft shrugged off a report he had suffered a leg infection after taking a tumble on a treadmill earlier this week.
Yakupov was back on the ice at Perry Pearn’s three-on-three conditioning camp Friday no worse for wear.
“My leg’s OK,” Yakupov said, seemingly annoyed by the infection rumours. “I’m fine, I’m practising, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
Yakupov did fall off a treadmill earlier in the week, which kept him away from the rink for a few days, but it did not affect his off-ice workout schedule.
However, the scrapes he suffered on his legs were nowhere near as bad as reported in a newspaper article, which stated he had contracted an infection.
The story made false headlines throughout the country.
“I know somebody said it was infection, but it’s nothing, it looks worse than it is,” Yakupov said. “It’s fine, I can walk, I can work out, I can skate. I don’t care who said that I had an infection, but I saw it in the Russian news and in the Canadian news. I know somebody said I had an infection, but I don’t know how he got that, I’m fine.”
Yakupov has been preparing for the upcoming season with Oilers fitness consultant Simon Bennett. The workouts include running up stairs in the river valley.
“It’s good, he ran with me a couple of times,” Yakupov said. “The third time he said he didn’t want to run up with me anymore. But it’s good and you have to run and you have to work hard if you want to play in the NHL.”
Yakupov had come to Edmonton to prepare for the upcoming season following his participation in the Canada-Russia Hockey Challenge in Halifax.
The native of Niznekamsk, Russia felt the best way to prepare for his rookie season with the Oilers was to train in Edmonton.
“There’s a big difference between here and in Russia, that’s why I came here,” Yakupov said. “I want to practise here and get ready for the NHL. I feel good when I’m practising and working hard. I love to sweat and work hard. I love it.”
Friday’s session at Perry Pearn’s camp was the first opportunity Yakupov has had to skate with Taylor Hall, who signed a seven-year contract extension with the Oilers on Wednesday.
The two first-overall picks are expected to make a big impact with the club this season.
“I’ve met him before the practice, he’s a good guy,” Yakupov said. “Being out on the ice with him, you can see he’s a good player.
“It’s good, I’ve met a few of the guys now. I met Ladi Smid and Darcy Hordichuk is becoming one of my favourite guys. He gives me rides when I need them and he’s helped me a lot.
“There is a lot of talent here. I’ve met Horcoff and talked to Sam Gagner on the phone.”
On Sunday, Yakupov will be flying to Toronto to take part in the NHLPA rookie showcase, a photo opportunity for a trading card company.
He’ll be back later in the week to resume his on-ice workouts.
If and when training camp gets underway — depending on CBA talks — Yakupov will wear the No. 64 for the Oilers, with Horcoff currently sporting the No. 10.
If there is a lockout, Yakupov’s agent, Igor Larionov, has stated the Russian will play in the KHL with his hometown team in Niznekamsk.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with that,” Yakupov said. “I really can’t say anything about that.”