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NHL Central Scouting final rankings make Nail Yakupov their top prospect

Apr 9, 2012, 10:34 AM EDT

Nail Yakupov

With the NHL Draft lottery set to take place tomorrow night, leave it to Central Scouting to give teams their final rankings so everyone knows who they’re gunning for a the draft in June.

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone who has followed the player draft rankings all year, but Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov is still the No. 1 North American player to be taken this year courtesy of NHL.com. The NHL Central Scouting Service put out their final listing of North American players ahead of the June draft and Yakupov, like he did before the season and at the mid-term, took home the top spot.

At 5’10” 190 pounds, Yakupov isn’t physically imposing, but according to Mike Morreale of NHL.com, he’s earning comparisons to Pavel Bure with his speed and scoring ability. At 18-years-old, Yakupov could be the piece any of the lottery teams need to get a game-changing scorer.

Rounding out the top-five skaters on the Central Scouting list, defenseman Ryan Murray is the new No.2 swapping spots with forward Mikhail Grigorenko. Forward Alex Galchenyuk sits fourth while defenseman Morgan Rielly is fifth. Forward Filip Forsberg topped Central Scouting’s list of European skaters. Forsberg is expected to be in talk for one of the lottery picks this year as well.

Who gets to snag Yakupov? The Blue Jackets have the best shot of winning the draft lottery and picking first while Edmonton, Montreal, the New York Islanders, and Toronto round out the group with a shot at the top pick. Any team can win the lottery, but only teams in the bottom five have a shot at the first pick overall.

Check out this video from NHL.com on Yakupov:

  1. bcisleman - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Depending on team needs, if EDM, MTL, NYI or TOR win the lottery, they might want to negotiate to get CBJ’s LAK first rounder and perhaps also its #31 pick along with the #2 pick, That way they’d have their choice of the remaining prospects AND two other high value prospects.

    The CSS ranking confirms the likelihood that EDM will pick Murray, MTL will pick Grigorenko and the NYI will pick either Gally or Forsberg. My money’s on Gally. With his size, he might be able to make the jump to the NHL right away and boost second line production–sorely lacking this past season–and help the Isles make the playoffs next year. He might also induce Kirill Petrov to make the leap across the pond..

  2. cmonmanzz - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    As a Canadiens fan, I would rather see them pick Grigorenko over Yakupov.

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Apr 10, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Galchenyuk is the best center in this draft. His injury slowed his draft rankings but no doubt in my mind he should go before Grigorenko!!!

      Great all around talent and will possibly be the best player in this draft 3 years from now.

  3. mianfr - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Going to just say I thought that I thought it was Legolas in the freeze frame of the video at the bottom.

    Take that as you will.

  4. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    According to TSN Yakupov has a tendency to be selfish with the puck and Grigorenko likes to take shifts and games off. Either or both of these guys could turn out to be Kovalev 2.0 for whoever picks them; tons of skill and potential that will never be realized only because they won’t let it be. Buyer beware.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      And the funny part is that Kovy still put up over 1000 pts. Shows how talented he was. Unfortunately, it’s common place for Russian skaters to be that way. The exception: Pavel Datsyuk.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:42 PM

        True, I meant to say their potential will never be fully realized. Just imagine what Kovy could have done if he showed up every minute of every game. But I agree, these traits can be found in a lot of Russian players and these kids don’t appear to be exceptions.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:50 PM

        No doubt. Speaking of showing up, how disappointed are you in your Maple Leafs? That has to be brutal.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 10, 2012 at 12:19 AM

        This year was especially brutal because there was actually hope for most of the season, but when you miss the playoffs every year you just sort of get used to it. The first round of the playoffs is still the most exciting part of the season even if the Leafs aren’t in.

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