Nail Yakupov is still No. 1, but he can hear the footsteps of countryman Mikhail Grigorenko.
Grigorenko jumped into third position in Future Considerations’ December ranking for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, trailing both Yakupov and Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray. All three are expected to be major players in the World Junior Championship, underway in Alberta later this month, and their performances could dictate who reigns in January.
“It is time to give Mikhail Grigorenko his due as a legit riser with his play this year in the QMJHL,” scouting director Dan Stewart said.” While he has had a bit of a consistency issues in the past with his Russian team CSKA, his play in Quebec under coach Patrick Roy has been phenomenal.”
Grigorenko isn’t the only prospect trending upwards.
USHL standout Zemgus Girgensons saw a jump of nine positions last month. The consistency in his effort is starting to shine through and Girgensons can continue his ascent with a strong performance for Latvia at the World Juniors.
Girgensons can establish a breakout moment much like Swiss sensation Nino Niederreiter. It was with an unforgettable performance at the 2010 World Junior Championship that secured top-10 status for Niederreiter, who was eventually selected fifth overall by the New York Islanders. It will be up to Girgensons to shine on the international stage.
Windsor Spitfires Nick Ebert is hoping to get the same opportunity. The American has struggled mightily in the Ontario Hockey League this season after showing significant promise a season ago. Ebert’s fall from fourth to 14th is the largest drop and his spot in USA Hockey’s selection camp is no longer as certain as it once was.
Ebert isn’t the only defenseman descending down the draft rankings either. Edmonton Oil Kings defenseman Griffin Reinhart has shone at times and struggled at others this season. The six-foot-four defenseman still shows top-10 promise should he solve his consistency issues.
While Reinhart has dropped, Matia Marcantuoni has slid out of the first round altogether. The oft-injured forward hasn’t produced as expected for the Kitchener Rangers and has been replaced on the list by teammate Radek Faksa.
1). RW Nail Yakupov, Sarnia, OHL, 5-10, 170
2). D Ryan Murray, Everett, WHL, 6-1, 195
3). C Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec, QMJHL, 6-2, 190
4). D Matt Dumba, Red Deer, WHL, 6-0, 175
5). C Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia, OHL, 6-1, 185
6). LW Filip Forsberg, Leksand Jr., Swe Jr., 6-1, 175
7). D Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw, WHL, 6-0, 195
8). D Cody Ceci, Ottawa, OHL, 6-3, 210
9). C Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque, USHL, 6-2, 185
10). D Jacob Trouba, USNTDP U18, USHL, 6-2, 185
11). D Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough, OHL, 6-2, 185
12). RW Sebastian Collberg, Frolunda Jr., Swe Jr., 5-11, 175
13). LW Pontus Aberg, Djurgarden, Swe., 5-11, 185
14). D Nick Ebert, Windsor, OHL, 6-1, 195
15). D Derrick Pouliot, Portland, WHL, 6-0, 180
16). RW Martin Frk, Halifax, QMJHL, 5-11, 190
17). C Jarrod Maidens, Owen Sound, OHL, 6-2, 175
18). D Olli Maatta, London, OHL, 6-2, 190
19). C Brendan Gaunce, Belleville, OHL, 6-2, 200
20). D Jordan Schmaltz, Sioux City, USHL, 6-2, 175
21). C Phil Di Giuseppe, Michigan, CCHA, 6-1, 195
22). D Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton, WHL, 6-4, 200
23). LW Nicolas Kerdiles, USNTDP U18, USHL, 6’-1, 180
24). D Gianluca Curcuruto, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, 6-1, 195
25). C Radek Faksa, Kitchener, OHL, 6-2, 180
26). C Henrik Samuelsson, Modo, Swe., 6’-2, 195
27). G Malcolm Subban, Belleville, OHL, 6-0, 175
28). LW Raphael Bussieres, Baie-Comeau, QMJHL, 6-0, 180
29). C/LW Andreas Athanasiou, London, OHL, 6-0, 170
30). G Oscar Dansk, Brynas Jr., Swe Jr., 6-2, 185