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Vancouver Sun article (Yakupov named top NHL prospect)

April 10 2012 at 6:55 AM
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N. W. Bruin  (Login NW_Bruin_GM)

Yakupov named top NHL prospect

By Dave Gross, Postmedia News

April 10, 2012

Eighteen-year-old scoring sensation Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting has completed the season sweep.

For the third straight ratings period, Yakupov has been named the top North American skater eligible for 2012 NHL draft by NHL central scouting.

He was the highest-regarded prospect in central scouting's preliminary list back in November and was at the top again in January's midterm report.

"His first step and ability to control bouncing pucks, knock them down and make a play are the best of any of the guys in the draft," said central scouting's Chris Edwards told "He really gets up to top speed very quickly and his hands are outstanding. Like Pavel Bure, Yakupov is dangerous every shift. He may not have been dominant on every shift like Bure was, but he created some-thing every shift ... you have to be aware where he is on the ice all the time."

The final rankings were released Monday for the draft which will be held June 22-23 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Defenceman Ryan Murray of the Western Hockey League's Everett Silvertips passed centre Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Quebec Remparts as the No. 2 skater on the list.

Yakupov played in only 42 regular season games this season due to injury but still finished third on the Sting with 69 points, including 31 goals. He scored two goals and three assists in six OHL playoff games.

Sarnia teammate and fellow forward Alex Galchenyuk grabbed the No. 4 slot while Moose Jaw Warriors defence-man Morgan Rielly checked in at No. 5.

Ottawa 67's blue-liner Cody Ceci was ranked sixth, centre Radek Faksa of the Kitchener Rangers seventh, defenceman Olli Maatta of the Lon-don Knights eighth, defenceman Jacob Trouba of the U.S. under-18 National Team Development Program is ninth.

Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Griffin Reinhart, the West Vancouver native and son of former NHLer Paul, is the highest ranked B.C. product, coming in at No. 10 among North American skaters. Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Scissons, from North Vancouver, ranked four spots behind at No. 14.

The Vancouver Giants had three players ranked: defence-man Brett Kulak at 55; centre Jordan Martinook at 128; and C-RW Dalton Sward at 179.

Alex Kerfoot, the son of Vancouver Whitecaps owner Greg and a member of the Coquitlam Express, was rated 165th.

The final North American goaltender rankings remain unchanged at the very top. Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls is still the top-ranked net-minder, followed by Brandon Whitney of the Victoriaville Tigres who moved up to No. 2, while Jake Paterson of Saginaw is third.

Filip Forsberg of Leksand in Sweden, Teuvo Teravainen of Jokerit Jr. in Finland and Sebastian Collberg of Frolunda Jr. in Sweden are the top-three ranked European skaters.

The NHL will hold its draft lottery today at 2 p.m. PT.

The league's last-place team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, has the best odds at winning the top selection.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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