Despite having already played two games with Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik the back and forth between the IIHF and the KHL over Nail Yakupov's eligibility to play in that league doesn't yet appear to be settled. As you might recall, last week Yakupov's KHL debut had been delayed by issues surrounding his International Transfer Card (ITC). With Yakupov having suited up for a couple of game already one would have assume that all the i's had been dotted and the t's crossed on the ITC but that isn't the case.
The first hint that something was wrong came from Pavel Lysenkov earlier this morning when he tweeted a link to a story on the KHL website saying that hearings with the IIHF had been initiated and that Yakupov would be temporarily unable to take part in league games. No further information was provided on the KHL website and the IIHF has yet to release a formal statement but Darren Dreger and Mark Spector have provided some information on what's behind all of this.
IIHF says Yakupov does not have approved transfer card to play in KHL.Russian Hockey fined. Appeal can be heard.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 26, 2012
IIHF says Hockey Canada never approved Yakupov's Intl Transfer Card. He's played 2 games in KHL illegally.— Mark Spector Sports (@SportsnetSpec) September 26, 2012
So the issue appears to be that because the Oilers assigned Yakupov to Sarnia Hockey Canada now needs to sign Yakupov's ITC in order to make his employment in the KHL legitimate. This is where things could get really interesting and more than a little ugly.
The Oilers almost certainly want Yakupov to play in the KHL. Ideally the Oilers would like to see him playing in the AHL during the lockout but assignment to the AHL isn't an option. The KHL is a much stronger league that the OHL so this then becomes the next best thing. Facing stronger competition while not starting his entry level contract is a win-win for the club. But Hockey Canada likely doesn't care what the Oilers want, they care about what Sarnia wants. And Sarnia want the NHL's first overall draft pick in their lineup not in Russia. Yakupov would be an instant boost to them both on the ice and at the gate. And so the tug of war continues and Yakupov once again finds himself in limbo.
I'd like to think that the lockout is creating some confusion here and that the Oilers aren't at fault in all of this but recent history with the Paajarvi recall/non-recall makes me think that maybe, just maybe the Oilers, once again, didn't due their due diligence. If that's the case and Yakupov spends the season in Sarnia someone in the Oilers front office should be shown the door.