Yakupov for #1!
The World Junior Championships are over with three Wild prospects coming hold with gold. Mikael Granlund was named a top 3 player for Finland and Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker come home disappointed but with invaluable experience.
The Wild hope to repeat their recent success in the draft.
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is considered deep with talent, and it is. The top 3 is in very tight competition, and the rest of the class can move up and down very easily in the coming months.
But who is available?
We'll start off with the top 15, then finish it off next week with the next 15 best prospects.
1. YAKUPOV, NAIL RW SARNIA OHL 5' 10.5" 189
Considered a sure-fire top 3 pick this season, and by many, THE top selection this 2012 draft. He's fast, elusive, and brings all types of offensive talent. He also is not afraid to play physical and throw his weight around a bit. The combination of world class skating, puckhandling, and goal-scoring ability, puts him at #1. While he does have a bit of work to do on his defensive side of his game, his offense is top notch and just too dynamic too ignore.
2. GRIGORENKO, MIKHAIL C QUEBEC QMJHL 6' 3.25" 200
The other Russian forward that has the potential of being the #1 pick in this year's draft. The difference between him and Yakupov is that Grigorenko has the size and is more of a playmaker and a centerman. While Yakupov is that dynamic goal-scoring winger, Grigorenko is the more silent but also extremely offensive talented center. Honestly, I don't think you could go wrong with either pick.
3. MURRAY, RYAN D EVERETT WHL 6' 0.5" 201
An all-round defenseman that has all the tools to become a very good NHLer. He has good size, very good skating ability and very good at both ends of the ice. What separates Murray from the rest of the pack is his ability to play with tons of hockey smart, tons of poise, and tons of maturity. Always consistent and always reliable. Sort of like Gabriel Landeskog, Murray has just succeeded at every level of play he has been thrown in, including this years World Junior Championships, in which he looked quite solid for a 17-year old.
4. FORSBERG, FILIP C LEKSAND SWEDEN-2 6' 2.0" 181
While Forsberg did not particularly stand out during the WJCs, he still showed off a few of his tools that could make him a possbile top-5 selection. The combination of size, skating, and two-way play make him an interesting prospect. He makes use of his size effectively and looks to have all the tools for a promising power-forward prospect.
5. TROUBA, JACOB D USA-18 USHL 6' 2.0" 193
One of the bright spots on the Team USA team in this year's WJC, Trouba showed his ability to play a good two-way game and even showed some flashes of skilled stickwork. To make things even better, he has a good 6-2 frame that he will be able to use even more in the future as he doesn't mind playing with a physical edge. However, Murray still has the upper hand due to Murray's experience, poise and history of success. Trouba, however, is filled with potential as he has tons of impressive tools to work with.
6. DUMBA, MATT D RED DEER WHL 5' 11.75" 183
While Murray is the quiet, calm defenseman, Dumba is that energetic, wrecking ball of destruction. He knows how to use his body effectively and deliver that huge hit that can change the tempo of the game, despite his below average height. He can skate very well, likes to play with energy, is decent in his own zone, and is very skilled offensively. Dumba is considered very raw but has brings some interesting factors to the game.
7. GALCHENYUK, ALEX C SARNIA OHL 6' 0.5" 198
One of the unfortunate injured 2012 draft prospects, Galchenyuk had the potential of being a top 3 pick if it weren't for an injury. While the rest of the draft class had the chance to impress the scouts and improve their game, Galchenyuk is leaving scouts doing the guessing game. But here is what he brings: size, skill, skating ability, and vision. He plays a similar game to Mikhail Grigorenko but that big 'injured' label will have him inevitable stuck where he is.
8. RIELLY, MORGAN D MOOSE JAW WHL 5' 11.5" 190
More injuries, and like Galchenyuk, Reilly is stuck because of it. A smooth skating defenseman that can move the puck very well with good vision and soft hands. Extremely dynamic and started the season very strong with 18 points in 18 games before becoming injured. He did not get much of a chance to show scouts he improved his defensive game but teams might draft him just because of what he brings to the table.
9. CECI, CODY D OTTAWA OHL 6' 2.5" 207
Ceci is a great pro-prospect as he has the size, reliability and mobility that should translate well into the NHL. He plays a safe and reliable game, and compliments that with solid passing and a booming shot. A defenseman that is just good at everything; one of the safer picks in this year's draft. While he won't be the most physical player or the most dynamic player, he's consistent, safe, and got the tools.
10. GAUNCE, BRENDAN C BELLEVILLE OHL 6' 2.0" 215
He's big, he's physical, he's skilled, and he's reliable. He is the type of forward that brings everything to the game. The only thing he seems to lack is impressive skating and speed, but once the game slows down, he can dominate the game. May not be that flashy, dynamic player like Yakupov but he has skills to become a very good top six forward and the bust factor of becoming a reliable 3rd line center.
11. COLLBERG, SEBASTIAN RW FROLUNDA SWE-JR 5' 11.0" 176
While Filip Forsberg did not have the best WJC, Collberg, on the otherhand, came out flying with stunning reviews. He played consistently in a top six forward position and in an offensive position as well. He has good speed, a good shot, and the thing I love about him is that he isn't afraid to get dirty and doesn't shy away from physical play. Plays hard and that is something you love to see in an offensive prospect. The thing that has him lower than Forsberg his that he doesn't have the size that Forsberg has, that will help translate into the NHL level. However, he's skilled and plays hard and thats a great thing to have.
12. FAKSA, RADEK C KITCHENER OHL 6' 3.0" 202
Teams loved players that are on an uphill trend of progression, and so do I! Very few players have come into his draft year like Faksa has. He has come into the OHL and leads all rookies in points scored. He has very good size, good skating, very good smarts, good hands, consistent, and uses his body well. There really isn't more you could ask for from your centerman.
13. GIRGENSONS, ZEMGUS C DUBUQUE USHL 6' 1.5" 198
Blessed with large size, skill and leadership ability, Girgensons is one of the more complete prospects in this years draft. One of his main concerns entering this season was his consistency but as the season progressed, he started to show such consistency. Him being #11 is saying he's isn't talented, this year is just filled with talent. Tons of character and has NHL size, which makes him an interesting player.
14. KOEKKOEK, SLATER D PETERBOROUGH OHL 6' 2.0" 184
Another injury story, his injury probably hurt him the hardest out of the players in the 2012 NHL Draft. He has tools of tools, such as size, two-way play and physicality, but was considered quite raw coming into the season. Huge upside, but raw. Once injured, he no longer can convince scouts he can put all these tools together. However, considering his huge upside, I have him at #14.
15. ABERG, PONTUS LW DJURGARDEN SWEDEN 5' 11.0" 194
Like Forsberg and Collbeg, Aberg is superskilled, a good skater, and offensively gifted. However, the difference lies in his size and physical play. Not as big as Forsberg, and not as physically able as Collberg, Aberg is still a very good pick in the middle of the first. Good hands and a sniper, he could have vaulted above Collberg if not for a sudden injury in the preliminary rounds of the WJC.