Former No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov could be considering a move back to Russia to play in the Kontinental Hockey League, according to a report.
The right winger was a healthy scratch Saturday night, his first missed game in his young career. He has yet to register a point this season.
His coach with the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Eakins, called the scratch just an opportunity for Yakupov to hit reset on the season.
"He's going to be an excellent player in this league, but rather than let this keep going on and the struggle become deeper and deeper, I thought it was time to hit the reset button, get him out of the lineup, let him watch a game," Eakins said.
"I've always found it's a great way to get a new perspective on the game when you're struggling. But that kid has such a passion and a work ethic that he'll rebound quickly."
Apparently not too quickly, though, since Yakupov will reportedly sit again Monday night against the Capitals.
Nail Yakupov will not play for #oilers vs Caps. LaBarbera starts in net. Is 1-2 against Washington.— Joanne Ireland (@jirelandEJ) October 14, 2013
The first pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Yakupov played in all 48 games last season with the Oilers, scoring 17 goals and notching 14 assists.
Yakupov played for Neftekhimik in 2012-13 before coming to the NHL. His father, Rail, was once a coach and executive for the KHL team, as well.
But the move is anything but imminent, and the rumor is in the process of being debunked.
Spoke with Igor Larionov about Nail Yakupov KHL rumors: "Not even a single thought to go to the KHL at this moment. Not even a single one."— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) October 14, 2013
(h/t Sunbelt Hockey Journal)