Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Winnipeg Jets NHL Jets Home NHL Jets Facebook NHL Jets Twitter NHL Jets Instagram NHL Jets Official Youtube Page Sign Up for Jets Mail Mobile App Buy Tickets
Reading Takes Flight Reading Takes Flight Facebook Instagram Manage Your Account Jets Pass HQ

Yakupov's fitness testing performance gets solid reviews

Saturday, 02.06.2012 / 1:18 PM / News Articles
By Mike Morreale  - Staff Writer
Share with your Friends

Yakupov\'s fitness testing performance gets solid reviews
Nail Yakupov used the fitness testing at the Scouting Combine as a chance to showcase himself for NHL decision makers.

TORONTO -- This was the moment Nail Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater, had been waiting for -- a chance to prove to every NHL scout and general manager that he deserves to be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft on June 22 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

The 18-year-old right wing from the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League certainly did his part Friday during the fitness stage of the NHL Scouting Combine at the Toronto International Centre.

Yakupov successfully survived the 13 individual tests designed to evaluate the strength and fitness of the draft hopefuls, including the grueling bike tests -- the Wingate Cycle Ergometer and the VO2 Max test.

"I think this is the best moment in my life and it started [at the Combine]," Yakupov told the media after surviving the tests. "It's a big day for me and this was the first test in my life. We had fun here. There was good exercises, good bikes. I got to show how hard I work and how to push. I feel great."

Edmonton Oilers head amateur scout, Stu MacGregor, whose team holds the No. 1 choice at the draft for the third straight year, said he was impressed with Yakupov's workout.

"He extended himself and put himself out there and gave everything he had," MacGregor told "I think that Nail wants to be No. 1 and he wants to prove he's No. 1, so he knows what's at stake and he's pushing himself to be the best he can be."

In addition to the bike tests, Yakupov was put through tests that included the standing long jump, vertical jump, curl-ups, grip strength, bench press, push-ups, and push/pull strength. He bench-pressed 150 pounds nine times, and totaled 29 pushups, four more than the average number last year.

He also lasted 12:25 on the VO2 Max test, which measures the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise. During his 30-second spin on the Wingate Cycle Ergometer, Yakupov maintained top speed to the very end, grunting his way through the final five seconds of the exercise.

"I think my favorite was the two bikes," Yakupov said with a laugh. "If you have to do it again, you do it again, and just push and get good motivation. I was good, I was practicing before and it was easy."

NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory thought Yakupov really pushed himself -- and as a result left a lasting impression.

"I saw a lot of compete in him which was good and I thought he pushed himself and I think that's what a lot of teams want to see," Gregory said. "I thought he did that and he was a strong kid. You could see that there's an athlete in there, as well as a good hockey player."

Despite playing just 42 regular-season games, Yakupov finished third on the team with 69 points, including 31 goals. He also had a plus-15 rating and 12 power-play goals.

He was asked if he would be disappointed if he wasn't selected with the first pick.

"Whether I'm No. 2 or No. 3, I'm not going to stop playing hockey," Yakupov said. "I keep working. I want to be drafted by an NHL team and help my team win … try win every game. So for me, I want to make the NHL and then we'll see."

Yakupov enjoyed having the opportunity to be around his peers and spend a week at the Combine with many other top draft-eligible prospects.

"Everyone talked with everyone," he said. "When some guy went into meetings, we would say, 'Good luck,' and we smile … there were no fights in the hotel. It's fun and this is your life, so you have to be excited for hockey and how you play."

Yakupov is hoping to become the first Russian player selected with the No. 1 pick since Alex Ovechkin in 2004.

"It would be my dream to be the first pick, but the NHL is another life and it's not draft right now, so I just concentrate on my game," Yakupov said. "I have a life outside of hockey, too. I have my family, my friends, and this year just happens to be my draft year. I will continue to play my game and have fun, and then we'll see what happens after the draft."

Scoring goals is something Yakupov enjoys -- he led all first-year players in the OHL in 2010-11 with 49 goals in 65 games, and his 101 points led all OHL rookies and shattered Steven Stamkos' team rookie record (92 points in 2006-07).

Gregory felt scouts and GMs probably learned a lot from Yakupov's fitness tests.

"There's a lot of measurables [at the Combine] and we get all that data out to the teams at the end of it," Gregory said. "But teams like to watch and see how players battle through when you reach your breaking point because those things translate to what you face on the ice, too."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Author: Mike G. Morreale | Staff Writer




1 ANA 48 32 10 6 143 124 70
2 NSH 46 31 10 5 141 107 67
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 47 30 15 2 148 108 62
5 WPG 49 26 15 8 138 122 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 48 26 19 3 140 126 55
9 LAK 47 20 15 12 129 126 52
10 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
11 DAL 47 21 19 7 146 154 49
12 MIN 47 21 20 6 130 138 48
13 ARI 47 16 25 6 108 160 38
14 EDM 48 12 27 9 110 160 33


A. Ladd 49 17 23 10 40
B. Little 49 18 20 10 38
B. Wheeler 49 13 23 11 36
D. Byfuglien 49 12 20 9 32
M. Perreault 46 15 14 2 29
M. Frolik 49 10 16 6 26
M. Scheifele 49 7 19 4 26
E. Kane 34 10 12 6 22
A. Lowry 48 6 9 3 15
J. Trouba 33 5 9 5 14
M. Hutchinson 14 4 2 .935 1.90
O. Pavelec 12 11 6 .911 2.52
Join Jets Cadets Kids Club!