2012 has more questions than answers

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FC’s scouting director Dan Stewart tackles Dumba, Russians, goaltenders and fallers in his inaugural edition of ‘Five For Stewart’.

Have a question about the 2012 NHL Entry Draft? Send it to Dan via email at danstewart@futureconsiderations or via Twitter.

1. Does Matt Dumba have the potential to be the first drafted defenseman in 2012?

Not only does Dumba have the potential to be the first defenseman selected but I except him to battle all season long with Everett Silvertips late ‘93 composed two-way threat Ryan Murray, Windsor Spitfire ’94 go-to man Nick Ebert and Moose Jaw Warrior ’94 smooth skating Morgan Rielly for that honor.

One of those four in my early opinion will likely be taken second overall with the first spot still a faint possibility, although Nail Yakupov has all but locked No.1 down.

Dumba has already shown the elite skills to be an impact defenseman at the NHL level with his plus skating ability, rocket shot and physical play. The only questions NHL teams have are with regards to his average size, if he can show more consistency in his defensive game and if he can maintain his current level of high end play throughout the season.

2. Who are the most notable Russians in the 2012 draft?

Besides the major talents like Nail Yakupov and Mihail Grigorenko who have already hit the headlines pretty hard already there are a few others to keep an eye on.

Starting over in Russia you will find winger Nikolai Prokhorkin, who plays for CSKA -last years reining MHL champion- but is being given a chance in the Kontinental League this year, and looks to be a solid prospect for the 2012 NHL Draft. He has good size at six-foot-three as well as the offensive skills, being both a nice finisher and skilled playmaker, to make his way up scouts list this season.

Prokhorkin also has a physical element and willingness to play it tough, even dropping the gloves, something you don’t get to see very often in young Russian forwards. He is a bit wiry but strong for his age and willing to come back and help in his own zone.

Winger Anton Slepyshev went first overall to Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the KHL draft this past year. He has good size and knows where to be on the ice to get a good scoring chance. Like to hang up top in the slot and get a quick one-timer off. He skates well with good agility and speed. He can dangle with the puck and has a very good shot.

Two other draft prospects still in Russia are big defensive defenseman Egor Malenkikh as well as skilled forward Alexander Timirev.

Malenkikh is a big six-foot-three, 200-pound defenseman who moves the puck well and possesses a nice hard point shot but is keyed on playing safe defensive hockey using his size and physical play. Malenkikh was picked in the CHL Import draft by Sault Ste. Marie and later traded to Owen Sound. I hear the plan was to come over but Malenkikh decided to stay home because of some health issues in the family.

Timirev is a bit on the short side but has some strength and good balance. He possesses a real good shot and is a threat to score every time on the ice. He can handle the puck and make defenders look silly if they watch the puck.

Here in North America, import wingers Denis Kamaev who plays for Rouyn-Noranda in the Quebec League and Vadim Khlopotov playing in Saginaw of the OHL are both ones to watch. Kamaev is skilled offensively as a finisher with impressive speed and hands while Khlopotov also offensively skilled was a little too individual in his play over in Russia, we’ll see how he does in North America.

3. Who will be the draft’s top goaltender?

Well the upper echelon of goaltenders early in the year consists of Francois Tremblay of Val-d’Or in the QMJHL, Daniel Altshuller of the Oshawa and Malcolm Subban of the Belleville in the OHL, Oscar Dansk of Swedish club Brynas, Andrei Vasilevski of Ufa in Russia and American stopper Collin Olson of the USNTDP U-18 team.

For my money, it would be Oshawa Generals stopper Daniel Altshuller, who possesses the best blend of size, quickness and mental focus to eventually progress to an NHL stating job down the line.

4. Who is this year’s Jonathan Huberdeau, who went from honourable mention to third overall?

While I do not compare any of these prospects to Huberdeau’s skill set, the 2012 draft class has a few potential risers with Frolunda winger Sebastian Collberg as my personal favorite to break the top-10 this year. He is a natural goal scorer and really how many NHL teams want to add those to their stable? His blend of on-ice determination, agility and speed as well as an accurate, quick off his stick shot make him a likely future top six scoring NHL winger.

Another prospect impressing early is Ottawa 67’s defenseman Cody Ceci who has taken a step in multiple areas of his development since last season and is getting thrown into the elite defenseman category.

5. Which of the top-10 can you see falling throughout the year?

I hate to say it but Edmonton Oil King defenseman Griffin Reinhart has got to get his game going as he looks sluggish and may have regressed in his development early this season. While he has huge future potential and was exciting last season before the injuries, a sloppy skating stride and non-engaging play has hurt him with scouts early this season. Couple his early unimpressive play with the play of some of the other impressive prospects available and he could see his way down many lists.

Also, top ten hopeful Jacob Trouba of the United States Development Program has the ability to go either way, up with the potential he shows or down if he can’t show improvement.

It is still very early however and once the first month of the season is in the books it will be easier to get a read on this kind of thing.

Dan Stewart is the scouting director of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!

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