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2012 NHL Draft

Nieves could be first prep player taken at draft

Friday, 03.09.2012 / 9:00 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

In 18 games at Kent this season, Cristoval Nieves has 4 goals, 29 points, 18 penalty minutes, 36 hits, six blocked shots and a plus-10 rating.
Matt Herr thought he had seen it all after taking over as coach at the Kent School in Connecticut following a productive collegiate and professional playing career.

That's before he was introduced to 6-foot-3, 184-pound center Cristoval "Boo" Nieves last season.

"I don't know how he skates so freaking fast for his size," Herr told NHL.com. "He's one of the best skaters I've seen this year. I think he can jump into the American Hockey League and play right now and you wouldn't even blink."

Actually, Herr's assessment might not be too far-fetched, as NHL Central Scouting has Nieves No. 31 among North American skaters eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft. He's the highest-ranked scholastic player, and by all accounts, likely will be the first scholastic player taken in the first two rounds.

"'Boo' is certainly the best high-profile kid in this area since (Rangers prospect) Chris Kreider," Central Scouting's Gary Eggleston told NHL.com.

Halifax to host 2013 Top Prospects Game

Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 5:29 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will have a new look as well as a brand-new location.
For the first time in the 18-year history of the event, the game will be played in Atlantic Canada when the Top Prospects Game is played at the Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, N.S.
The game, which will pit 40 of the top players in the Canadian Hockey League eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, will be played Jan. 16, 2013.
The big change for the 2013 event will be dropping the skills contest, making the Top Prospects Game a one-day affair.
The 2012 Top Prospects Game was held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Kelowna, B.C.

Halifax's Ryan on rise as ankle heals, season goes on

Friday, 03.02.2012 / 6:17 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

In September, the NHL came to Andrew Ryan's home, but he wasn't around to appreciate it.

In June, he plans to atone for that.

Ryan, a 6-foot-3, 202-pound left wing with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, likely will hear his name called sometime in the first four rounds of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Despite missing the first three months of the regular-season with a broken ankle, Ryan has nine goals and 10 assists in 37 games. He was one of 40 players to take part in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and is No. 64 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters.

Long road for Wheat Kings' Bertaggia

Friday, 03.02.2012 / 9:00 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

Alessio Bertaggia is tied for seventh among all first-year WHL players with 21 goals and is ninth with 43 points. (Photo: Getty Images)
It's a long way from Lugano, Switzerland, to Pittsburgh, Pa., but that's the journey that 2012 NHL Entry Draft hopeful Alessio Bertaggia hopes to take.

That trip gets even longer when adding a stopover in Brandon, Mtba., to the equation.

Bertaggia, taken by the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings with the 33rd pick of the 2011 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, opted this season to ply his trade in North America in the hopes of improving his game to the point where he hears his name called sometime during draft weekend, June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.

"The idea was to get to another type of hockey and learn how Canadians play and improve because the coaches are very good here and they help you a lot," Bertaggia said. "My goal was just to come here and improve."

Top prospect Yakupov excels no matter the situation

Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 3:30 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The closer the calendar gets to the 2012 NHL Draft, the more Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov seems to relish the moment.

Rarely a week goes by when NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater doesn't bring fans to their feet with a highlight-reel goal.

Despite missing 22 games this season as a result of injury or participation in the 2012 World Junior Championship, Yakupov became the first Sting player to hit the 30-goal mark last Sunday. He did so in dramatic fashion, scoring his second of the game with 3.7 seconds left after taking a breakaway pass at center ice, splitting two opposing skaters and firing a shot between the goalie's pads.

Oil Kings' Reinhart has look of future NHL star

Monday, 02.27.2012 / 9:38 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL Central Scouting has Griffin Reinhart ranked No. 8 in its midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2012 Draft. (Photo: Andy Devlin/NHLI)
Griffin Reinhart never could fully comprehend the comparisons being made to his father, Paul, whenever he was asked about the standout defenseman for the Calgary Flames of the mid-1980s.

Griffin and his two brothers, Max and Sam, never had an opportunity to watch their father play since all three were born after Paul retired from the game following the 1989-90 season. That made watching him on television during a replay of a Flames-Oilers game from the 1988 playoffs all the more special.

"It was funny watching him," Griffin told NHL.com. "He plays kind of the same style I do and he makes the same mistakes as me."

That's where Paul set the record straight, however.

"Dad always tells me to do what he says and not what he did, so it's pretty funny," Griffin said.

Gaunce perfect for role of two-way forward

Monday, 02.20.2012 / 10:53 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Brendan Gaunce is No. 11 on Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft. (Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Belleville Bulls center Brendan Gaunce has a singular focus, and that's to someday play in the NHL.

He does, though, have something of a second career if things don't work -- acting.

"I was in three plays when I was younger," Gaunce told NHL.com, a bit embarrassed. "I like it but I don't think it's my fallback. When I was in Grade 5 we did some Shakespeare play, and when I was in Grade 8 we did 'Hairspray,' and last year as rookies we had to do the 'Mean Girls' dance in front of the school. (Acting) is more nerve-wracking than hockey."

Gaunce shouldn't worry about a need to trade his skates for acting lessons. He seems just fine on the ice -- and scouts certainly seem to have liked what they've seen so far.

"Brendan is a real high-energy guy," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "When he is playing high-energy, when he's battling, when he's getting involved, he's forcing turnovers in the opposition zone. He's got a good skill set that after he wins a puck battle he can make a good pass and set up a play. He creates scoring chances every shift when he's at his best. Every shift he's out there creating things."

Merchant, Opperman vie for Minny's 'Mr. Hockey'

Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:15 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Forward Will Merchant of Eagan High School heads an impressive list of candidates nominated for this year's prestigious Mr. Hockey Award in the state of Minnesota.

The 28th Mr. Hockey Awards Banquet will be held March 11 at the Grand Ballroom at RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minn. The award, given to the outstanding senior high school player in the state, is named the day after the final game of the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, which will be held March 7-10 at Xcel Energy Center.

The award winner is selected by a panel of NHL scouts, Division I coaches and selected media members from around the state.

Prospect Ryan Murray makes playing 'D' look easy

Monday, 02.13.2012 / 4:06 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"I think Murray brings something to the game ... he brings a steadiness to the game to the point that you know he'll play 15 years in the League without any problem." -- Peter Sullivan, NHL Central Scouting

It isn't often a teenage hockey fanatic would opt to spend weekend nights in the summer jamming on a six-string alongside a group of friends to the sounds of legendary rock singer Neil Young.

Then again, Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray is anything but ordinary.

The 6-foot 1/2, 201-pound Murray might not be the flashiest performer available among what many consider to be a deep and talented group of defensemen eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, but he might be the most consistent.

2012 defensemen measure well against 2008 group

Friday, 02.10.2012 / 11:50 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When the top players available for the 2008 Entry Draft met in January 2008 in Edmonton for that year's CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, the list of defensemen on the ice read like a listing of the top 22-and-under defensemen currently in the NHL.

On the ice that night were blueliners Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Luke Schenn, Alex Pietrangelo, Tyler Myers and Michael Del Zotto, among others.

Four years later, when this year's crop of top draft-eligibles met in Kelowna, B.C., for the 2012 Top Prospects Game, the list of available defensemen could run deeper and be just as talented as that 2008 group.

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2012 NHL Draft