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Which prospects should start booking flights to Pittsburgh?

Oct 27, 2011, 8:16 PM EDT

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In the worst kept secret since the Winter Classic announcement, the NHL confirmed that the 2012 NHL Draft will be held at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on June 22-23, 2012. It’s the first time the league has held the NHL Draft in the Steel City since Joe Thornton was picked first overall by the Boston Bruins so he could help lead them to the Stanley Cup.

So which prospects out there could be the next Joe Thornton? By that, we mean the first overall pick—not scapegoat that gets traded halfway through a Hart Trophy winning season. Here are five guys who should be drafted at (or near) the top of the 2012 Draft in Pittsburgh. In no particular order:

1. Nail Yakupov (Sarnia Sting): Russian sniper who is already playing in the OHL.

2. Ryan Murray (Everett Silvertips): Natural born leader who wore the “C” at the age of 17.

3. Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw Warriors): Fast, explosive defenseman who can fill any building with excitement.

4. Matt Dumba (Red Deer Rebels): Blueliner who can put up points in a hurry.

5. Alex Galchenyuk (Sarnia Sting): High scoring center who recently had surgery on his ACL—but may be the most talented player in the entire draft.

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