Sting stars dominate NHL draft rankings

Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov is the top prospect heading into the 2012 NHL draft, according to...

Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov is the top prospect heading into the 2012 NHL draft, according to NHL Central Scouting. (QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:45 PM ET

SARNIA, ONT. - The Sarnia Sting are well-represented among the top National Hockey League draft-eligible players as ranked by NHL Central Scouting.

As has been the case all season, left winger Nail Yakupov is pegged as the consensus top pick for the 2012 NHL Draft. He is the number one-ranked North American draft-eligible skater.

Like his hockey hero Pavel Bure, Yakupov possesses blazing speed, a quick release, accurate shot and is a gamebreaker.

The 18-year-old was the top prospect on Central Scouting's preliminary list of the top 25 skaters from the OHL in November and also topped January's mid-term report.

Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards told NHL.com that Yakupov’s first step and ability to control bouncing pucks and make plays are the best of any draft eligible player.

“He really gets up to top speed very quickly and his hands are outstanding. Like Pavel Bure, Yakupov is dangerous every shift.”

Also ranked near the top is Yakupov’s linemate, Alex Galchenyuk.

The smooth-skating centreman jumped up the year-end rankings after recovering from knee surgery in time to see game action for the Sting in the OHL playoffs.

He is ranked fourth among North American skaters for the draft, to be held June 22-23 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Unlike Yakupov, who wound up third on the Sting in scoring with 69 points, in just 42 games, Galchenyuk played in just two regular season games and six playoff games after surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during a preseason game.

He made his regular-season debut March 14 in front of more than a dozen NHL scouts and general managers in Sarnia. He left the next game on March 16 with an upper body injury, before tallying two goals and two assists in six playoff games.

"You watch his skill, his hands, how smooth he is with the puck," said Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney. "Every team in the league, that's what we're looking for."

Ranked second by Central Scouting is defenseman Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips.

Quebec Ramparts centre Mikhail Grigorenko is third, followed by Galchenyuk, Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Morgan Rielly, defenseman Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67's, center Radek Faksa of the Kitchener Rangers, London Knights defenseman Olli Maatta, defenseman Jacob Trouba of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program, and defenseman Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

The top-ranked North American goaltender remains Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls.

The top-ranked international skaters are forwards Filip Forsberg of Leksand in Sweden, Teuvo Teravainen of Jokerit Jr. in Finland, and Sebastian Collberg of Frolunda Jr. in Sweden.


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