World Juniors: Top 10 2012 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect Performances
Part 1: First Year NHL 2012 Entry Draft Eligible ProspectsIt is no secret the World Junior Hockey Championships provides an outstanding opportunity for scouts to evaluate prospects – both drafted and undrafted. One does, however, have to keep in mind that it is not easy for a prospect in his first year of eligibility to make a tremendous impact in this tournament.
The WJCs are typically dominated by 19 year olds. It stands to reason then if a 17 or 18 year old first year draft eligible player has a solid tournament they can raise their stock immensely or cement their stranglehold as a high end prospect.
A less than stellar performance may not necessarily result in a subsequent dip in a players stock as scouts have realistic expectations. However, glaring weaknesses could potentially be exposed that may not have been previously apparent. It is also an opportunity to see how a player responds to playing at this high level amongst his peers.
Part 1 will highlight the top 10 performances by first-year 2012 draft eligible prospects, with Part 2 soon to follow looking at the top 10 over-agers that have been previously passed over in the draft at least one year.
*Please note that this is not a ranking of the prospects for the 2012 NHL draft, but simply rating their performance at the World Juniors.
The Top 10 2012 NHL Entry Draft Eligible Prospect Performances - 1st Year of Eligibility:1. Nail Yakupov: Forward - Russia (Sarnia Sting, OHL)
Yakupov had a slightly perplexing tournament. He somehow transformed from a sniper to a playmaker. He was definitely snake-bitten on a multitude of opportunities throughout the World Juniors. He registered 9 assists in 7 games with surprisingly no goals. What was on fine display, however, was his explosiveness and creativity.
Draft Stock: Unchanged
Projected Round Drafted: 1st round (likely 1st or 2nd overall)
2. Sebastian Collberg: Forward, Sweden (Frolunda, SEL)
While Collberg’s potential was never in doubt, his ability to have such a positive impact on this tournament was surprising to most. The speedy sniper notched 4 goals and 3 assists for 7 points in 6 games. Add in two super-slick shootout goals to round out his impressive performance. Although he will be likely be drafted behind countryman Filip Forsberg come June, he definitely outplayed Forsberg on this stage.
Draft Stock: Elevated
Projected Round Drafted: First round (first half)
3. Mikhail Grigorenko: forward, Russia (Quebec Ramparts, QMJHL)
Grigorenko had a curious tournament. In what was Evgeny Kuznetsov’s near record breaking performance against Latvia, Grigorenko was actually easily the best player on the ice for the 1st period. Early in the third he left with an ankle injury that was feared would keep him out of the rest of the tournament. However, it wasn’t as bad as initially expected and he was able to return to play in what appeared to be a somewhat limited capacity. His talent level is immense, however.
Draft Stock: Unchanged
Projected Round Drafted: 1st round (likely top 3 pick)
4. Andrei Vasilevski: Goalie, Russia
Coach Bragin didn’t start him for the gold medal game, but that was not because of Vasilevski’s ability. The big netminder with a lightning fast glove hand was on the radar for many scouts, but his play undoubtedly left many stunned. His combination of technique and athletic ability leaves one to think he has ridiculous upside.
Draft Stock: Skyrocketed
Projected Round Drafted: 2nd round (He might be a candidate for a late 1st round selection)
5. Ryan Murray: Defense, Canada (Everett Silvertips, WHL)
Besides the nightmare semifinal game against Russia, Murray actually had a good overall tournament. He was a plus 6 and had 3 assists in 6 games. He is an efficient defender with a beautiful skating stride and projects to be a high end blueliner at the next level. He may, however, not be the best 2012 eligible blueliner from Canada when it is all said and done. Mathew Dumba was not selected by Hockey Canada, but may just have a higher upside than Murray. He would have been very interesting to watch at the World Juniors.
Draft Stock: Likely unchanged, but may have slightly dipped
Projected Round Drafted: 1st round (likely top 3-5 pick)
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