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Two Russians lead 2012 NHL draft class

Nov 16, 2011, 2:29 PM EDT

Mikhail Grigorenko

Mikhail Grigorenko is your new top-ranked 2012 NHL draft prospect, according to International Scouting Services.

The 17-year-old Russian forward leapfrogs another Russian forward, 18-year-old Nail Yakupov, who fell to No. 2 on the list.

Grigorenko, a playmaker that ISS compares to Joe Thornton, is currently plying his trade with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.

Yakupov, reportedly more of a Pavel Bure/Taylor Hall-type, plays for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL.

So why Grigorenko over Yakupov?

“(Grigorenko’s) ability to amplify the skill sets of those around him is what sets him apart from the rest of the pack,” said ISS Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis, as per TSN.ca. “And while the incredible offensive talents of Yakupov are nothing to take lightly, Grigorenko has shown better as of late and this isn’t the first time.”

The Mikhail-versus-Nail debate probably won’t reach Taylor-versus-Tyler levels of hysteria, but it must be encouraging for Russian hockey fans that two of their own could be the first and second picks this summer. The last Russian to go first overall was Alex Ovechkin, in 2004.

The top American player on the ISS list is defenseman Jacob Trouba (No. 6) of the U.S. National U18 Team.

The top Canadian is defenseman Ryan Murray (No. 4) of the Everett Silvertips.

The 2012 NHL draft is considered especially rich in defensemen. Good news for the Washington Capitals, who own Colorado’s first-round pick thanks to the Semyon Varlamov trade.

You can read the full list here.

  1. bcisleman - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    I firmly believe that the NYI will turn things around and climb up in the standings. If they don’t, however, adding Yakupov would be welcome consolation.

    I am guessing that he will be NHL-ready next year–as will Ryan Strome, Kirill Kabanov, and Casey Cizikas. Kirill Petrov will likely also be across the pond and should be NHL-ready sometime next season. Nino, of course, played his first NHL game last night and looked good.

    This year may not be the NYI year, but watch out next year!

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:56 PM

      Haven’t the NYI faithful been saying that for years now?

      • bcisleman - Nov 25, 2011 at 3:41 AM

        Not that I am aware of. I am aware that Garth Snow has built up an amazing array of prospects who will be coming into the NHL over the next few seasons. When they do, watch out!

  2. cmutimmah - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    bcisleman-

    It’s a fickle league, but the Isles are 3 years away still. Remember being NHL ready and being NHL elite are two different things.

    • bcisleman - Nov 25, 2011 at 3:48 AM

      Hard to say. I expect Strome, Kabanov, Petrov, De Haan, and Cizikas next year, Lee, Nelson, Persson, and Donovan the following year. If the NYI get Yakupov, he, Kabanov, and Strome would make an amazing second line. A third line with Nelson, Lee, and either Nino or Okposo would give opposing defenses no rest.

  3. nhlbruins90 - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    If you were drafting today and you had first pick, would you take Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall? Granted, I don’t see Hall play as much, but I’d go with Seguin.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:01 PM

      You have to remember that Seguin plays with a veteran team. He doesn’t have as much on his shoulders as Hall does. Both have a lot of potential but I can’t fault the Oil Changers for picking Hall. Btw, I say you invest in Center Ice. Edmonton is a fun team to watch. And to watch them on the East Coast is always nice.

    • nhlbruins90 - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:34 PM

      I wish I had Center Ice. Watching the Oilers recently against the B’s, they were indeed fun to watch. Points well taken about Hall. Seguin has so far had a charmed life in the NHL, and being so young, I’m sure he doesn’t even know it. Still, watching him recently makes me wonder where he’ll be in a few years.

      • danphipps01 - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:10 AM

        I don’t know. I think he’s pretty aware of how lucky he is. He’s playing with Olympians, Norris and Vezina winners and he’s one of their best players. He doesn’t seem to be notably arrogant, despite being an utterly key player in just his second year on the Cup-winning glory squad of all things. He’s benefitting from them, but they’re benefitting from him too, and for all that, he seems like he’s not letting it go to his head. He really seems to take it as what it should be – a chance to enjoy playing great hockey at the most elite level you can reach. I’m not sure I like players winning a Cup when they’re still practically boys, but it hasn’t produced anything resembling laziness or a sophomore slump in his play. He’s only going up now.

        All that said, I figure charmed life or not, he was the better choice over Hall. It’s impossible to say whether he’d accomplish more than Hall in Edmonton, but his skill is so multi-dimensional and so advanced in all of them already that it’s hard to say Hall has anything Seguin doesn’t have in equal or greater quantities. Again, he benefits from the team around him, but that can only go so far to explain the numbers. I mean, the Oilers are exploding this year and Hall’s got first-round linemates everywhere. And Ryan Smyth! Guy’s not exactly alone on a team devoid of talent himself. Seguin’s just fucking fantastic.

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