Sarnia, On – The Sarnia Sting Hockey Club was thrilled to introduce two of its newest members to the organization Friday afternoon.
2010 CHL Import Selections Nail Yakupov and Nickolas Latta both arrived at Toronto’s Pearson Airport last night and will now remain with the club throughout the 2010-2011 season. Yakupov was the top OHL pick in the Import Draft selected second overall while Latta was chosen in the second round, 62nd overall.
Yakupov, a native of Russia, recently participated in the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (U18) where he scored 3 goals and added 2 assists for 5 points.
This year's Hlinka Tournament was actually the second that Yakupov competed in. Last year as a 15-year old the talented Russian made the team comprised mostly of 17-year olds.
A late birth date Yakupov will not be eligible for the NHL draft until 2012.
The 16-year old Russian forward has caught the eye of the scouting world as evidenced by the following report compiled by the “Red Line Report”.
“Unbelievably advanced for a kid who's only 16. Exceptionally quick stick with great hands and moves. Magician with the puck, it just sticks to his blade. Hands and feet are equally fast, can really dangle with the puck and dance on skates. Very quick and agile skater who accelerates quickly. Sneaky and shifty, tough to contain or hit cleanly. Can turn and change direction in a phone booth. Can beat even good defenders off the rush with a variety of slick moves that he can make at top speed. See's the ice well and is creative. Willing to drive the net and go into the traffic zones, even instigating some after the whistle skirmishes – chippy and plays with an attitude. Sniper with good touch and release around net — excellent hands in close. Scores highlight reel goals.”
Latta, also eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is a native of Germany and comes to the Sting following an outstanding 2009-2010 season in the DNL (top German junior league).
This past season playing with SC Riessersee Latta produced at almost a 2-point per game clip and was easily his team’s leading scorer and was the 3rd leading scorer in the league.
Latta is very familiar with the Ontario Hockey League as both his father Ken (Greyhounds and Knights) and uncle David (Kitchener) had long OHL and professional playing careers.
Sarnia Sting Vice President of Operations Bill Abercrombie made the trip to Germany earlier in the season to see Latta in person.
“Nickolas is a very skilled player who competes hard. When he fills out he will be 6 feet plus to go with his natural ability. Like Yakupov he is a late 1993 birthdate so we feel he will help us both immediately and down the road as well as we continue to build this franchise back up.”
Latta is also fresh off a training camp with his National team in an Exhibition series with Switzerland in which he scored 4 goals in 3 games.
Abercrombie explains that Latta also has good blood lines as well as a local connection to Sarnia. “Both his dad and uncle played in the OHL and were both NHL draft picks who had long professional careers that would take both of them to Germany. Nick actually has family in Sarnia that he will be staying with this season.”
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)