If they redid the 2012 Draft, would Nail Yakupov still go first overall?

Jonathan Willis
March 13 2013 08:37AM

The Hockey News just did their annual Future Watch issue, surveying scouts from every NHL team and asking them to rank the best prospects in the game. Is Nail Yakupov still seen as the cream of the 2012 crop?

Yes, he is.

The top-three of Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray and Alex Galchenyuk remain intact, though Galchenyuk slides ahead of Murray according to the scouts THN talked to. The magazine’s stated criteria for Future Watch is to rank players by who will be the best NHL’er in five to 10 years; despite Yakupov’s struggles adjusting to the NHL he’s seen as the guy who will ultimately emerge as the best of the lot.

Other big moves:

Defenceman Slater Koekkoek, the 10th overall pick by Tampa Bay after a brilliant but injury-shortened 2011-12 campaign, received no votes in Future Watch. Thus far this season, Koekoek has 29 points in 42 games and a minus-24 rating. Fellow blueliner Cody Ceci, who went 15th overall to Ottawa, also missed out – he has 62 points in 67 games and a minus-10 rating.

Seventh overall pick Matt Dumba – who briefly contended for the top consensus ranking on the blueline early in the 2011-12 season – saw his stock fall too; if the scouts THN talked to redid the draft today, he’d fall to 17th. Derek Pouliot (8th overall) and Griffin Reinhart (4th overall) saw smaller drops, each falling seven spots in the new rankings.

Jacob Trouba and Mikhail Grigorenko both made big strides, with Trouba rising from ninth overall to fourth in these rankings, and Grigorenko rising from 12th to sixth despite unimpressive stats in Buffalo.

The biggest jump came for Russian star Andrei Vasilevski, who has excelled in consecutive World Juniors (and is playing lights-out in Russia). He jumped from 19th overall on draft day to 10th overall in these rankings. Eight spot jumps were made by forwards Scott Laughton and Stefan Matteau, defenceman Olli Maatta, and goaltenders Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.