September 26, 2012
First things first, do not count on seeing Nail Yakupov in Sarnia Sting colours any time soon while the NHL's No. 1 overall pick is trying to have his transfer to the KHL approved.
The buzz in the hockey world at this hour, as you probably already knew, is that neither the Sting nor the Edmonton Oilers have a problem with Yakupov playing for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, as he vowed to do in the summer. Someone in Canada, though, apparently does; the IIHF statement says he played in two games "without an approved International Transfer Card, ITC. The ITC was not signed by Hockey Canada and was thus not approved by the IIHF ... being that Hockey Canada did not approve Nail Yakupov's ITC, his case is in appeal procedures. Until appeal procedures are complete and a decision regarding his transfer to Russia is made, an ITC will not be approved or denied by the IIHF."
(Update: Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch told Sunaya Sapurji that Yakupov is still under contract to the Sting. Yakupov, as per Dmitry Chesnokov, is expecting to play for Nizhnekamsk.)
That only place Yakupov, who's not eligible for the American Hockey League, can play is for the Sting. The ever-unimpeachable Mark Edwards said that might be a non-starter while the appeal is being heard:
— Mark Edwards (@MarkEdwardsHP) September 26, 2012
Never say never, though. Yakupov, who turns 19 next week, has made it crystal-clear he does not want to return to the Ontario Hockey League's Sting for another season. If he and Nizhnekamsk strike out on the appeal, then it would stand to reason that the OHL would be the lone place where he would be eligible. Until whenever the lockout ends, of course.
Hockey Canada has taken up the fight on the Canadian Hockey League's behalf. That could mean consequences for the CHL, which already has challenges with recruiting from Russia and Europe.
I now expect Russians clubs to fully enforce the contracts juniors sign before jumping to the CHL. Shortsighted move by the CHL.
— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) September 26, 2012
It is understandable if the CHL is looking to avoid setting a precedent that could cause teenagers to jump to overseas leagues before their age-20 season. The OHL alone this season saw three import players, Vancouver Canucks first-rounder Nicklas Jensen (Oshawa Generals), Boston Bruins second Alexander Khokhlachev (Windsor Spitfires) and undrafted Lino Martschini (Peterborough Petes), go overseas. A difference between them and Yakupov is no NHL club explicitly assigned them to a junior team on Sept. 15 before the lockout went into effect.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.