Most prospects skating at the World Under-18 Championship were hoping to solidify their status in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. But not all.
Ryan Murray and Russian teammates Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko were battling to become the favourite heading into the 2011/12 season. The trio, eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, each put on a performance in Germany that wont soon be forgotten as scouts and hockey pundits get set to debate next year’s crop.
Murray, who captained Canada to a fourth place result, finished the tournament third in points among defensemen with 10 and second in goals with 3. It wasn’t just his offensive performance that jumped off the page, though, according to Future Considerations chief scout Dan Stewart.
“(He) was Mr. Consistent for Team Canada at both ends of the ice,” Stewart said of the Everett Silvertips captain. “Murray played a consistently safe shut-down game in his own zone. NHL teams will have a hard time letting this two-way defender get past them even if that team were to have the top overall selection.”
But teams with the top pick in 2012 would be wise to give Yakupov and Grigorenko a good, long look as well.
Grigorenko finished led the tournament with 14 assists and his 18 points was second only to Nikita Kucherov. Yakupov ended the tournament with six goals and 13 points – good enough for third in scoring.
“Nail did not play up to his potential in a couple round robin games in Germany but turned it on when it counted,” Stewart said of the Sarnia Sting forward. “When he did crank it up, it was easy to see why he is considered FC’s top pick for next year as his electric speed, offensive creativity, those quick hands, elite vision as well as his playmaking and finishing skills were all going for him.”
Rest assured, Grigorenko is nipping at the heels of both Murray and Yakupov.
“Grigorenko was able to show off his soft hands and elite puck protection as well as his playmaking skills and vision to the throngs of scouts in attendance,” Stewart noted. “Grigorenko’s game was consistently strong all tournament long and had many in attendance debating him with Yakupov for first overall in 2012.”
That’s where the fun part comes in.
Despite the fact that the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is still two months away, the debate surrounding the top talent in 2012 has already begun.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor 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!