NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: North American Skaters - 1-10
/ Calgary Flames
Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia (OHL)
Born: October 6, 1993
Born In: Nizhnekamsk, RUS
GP: 42 G: 31 A: 38 P: 69 PIM: 30
LOWDOWN: Simply put, Yakupov is an impact player. His ability to break open a game is incredible and his vision makes him very dangerous every time he's on the ice. In his first year with the Sting, he set a new franchise record for scoring by a rookie with 101 points (49 goals, 52 assists) - a record that was once held by Steven Stamkos. Injuries cut his 2011-12 regular season down to 42 games but his talent was displayed on the international stage when he recorded nine points in seven games with the Russian World Junior squad.
WHAT SCOUTS SAY: "His first step and ability to control bouncing pucks, knock them down and make a play are the best of any of the guys in the draft, in my opinion. He really gets up to top speed very quickly and his hands are outstanding. Like Pavel Bure, Yakupov is dangerous every shift. He may not have been dominant on every shift like Bure was, but he created something every shift … you have to be aware where he is on the ice all the time." - NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to NHL.com
Ryan Murray, D, Everett (WHL)
Born: September 27, 1993
Born In: Regina, SK
GP: 46 G: 9 A: 22 P: 31 PIM: 31
LOWDOWN: Murray possesses a plethora of skills that would be of benefit to any NHL team and will likely be a key component of a team's defensive corps for many years. His skating ability is second to none amongst WHL skaters, his hockey sense is well above average, his puck possession skills can be described as elite for his age, he makes excellent outlet passes and he isn't afraid to use his 6-foot, 201 lbs frame to separate opponents from the puck. He also logs big minutes every night.
WHAT SCOUTS SAY: "I think Murray is more like a (Scott) Niedermayer; he just does everything under the radar and so smooth you hardly notice it. His skating is probably the best in the (WHL), but you don't really notice that so much because you almost take it for granted he's been there for three years. He never gets out of position and I've never seen him lose a one-on-one battle. He's always, defensively, in the right spots. He just does everything so seamlessly that he reminds me of Niedermayer only because he does everything so well at such a high level and after a while, you don't even notice it." - NHL Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald to NHL.com
Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec (QMJHL)
Born: May 16, 1994
Born In: Khabarovsk, RUS
GP: 59 G: 40 A: 45 P: 85 PIM: 12
LOWDOWN: By all accounts, Grigorenko's first season in the QMJHL was an outstanding success. He led all QMJHL rookies in scoring this season with 40 goals and 85 points to his name. While he is known for his playmaking skills, Grigorenko has a very accurate shots that can handcuff netminders. Thanks to his skill and solid coaching, the pivot adjusted quite quickly to the North American game and has developed in all areas. He has worked at becoming more responsible in the neutral and defensive zones this year, aiming to become a more complete player.
WHAT SCOUTS SAY: "He's the type of player that controls the whole pace of the game. He can play with the puck at the same pace he plays without the puck. He sees the ice and opportunities really well. He can hang onto it longer than most players; some players might feel that they have to move it quickly, but Mikhail has the patience and the ability to see opportunities and let them develop, which is a special skill. He's got a big, long reach and an ability to move in traffic with his size (6-foot-3.25, 200). He's the kind of forward who will control the play and make things happen." - NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory to NHL.com
Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia (OHL)
Born: February 12, 1994
Born In: Milwaukee, WI
GP: 2 G: 0 A: 0 P: 0 PIM: 0
LOWDOWN: Galchenyuk is one of the biggest question marks in the 2012 draft class as he was limited to just two regular season games after tearing his ACL in an exhibition tilt. Despite this, Galchenyuk's performance in the 2010-11 season was strong enough to keep him in Central Scouting's top five North American skaters this year. Known as a playmaker, Galchenyuk has strong hockey sense and makes very good decisions with the puck. His defensive commitment has also been lauded and he is very responsible in his own zone. Sarnia didn't fare well in the OHL playoffs but Galchenyuk was a standout for the Sting in the postseason, scoring four points (two goals, two assists) in six games this year.
Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Born: March 9, 1994
Born In: Vancouver, BC
GP: 18 G: 3 A: 15 P: 18 PIM: 2
LOWDOWN: Like Galchenyuk, Rielly missed a large portion of the season with a torn ACL but his strong play in the 2010-11 campaign and the first 18 games of this season still has him listed as one of the top players in this draft class. Rielly's offensive prowess has put him on the map as has his hockey sense. He is able to process plays incredibly quickly and makes reads most players in the WHL miss. In his first season in Moose Jaw, Rielly posted 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 65 games. In terms of his skating, he is known for his tremendous speed, a solid first stride and four-way mobility.
WHAT SCOUTS SAY: "I've seen Rielly do things on the ice that nobody else was doing. I saw him make those little passes to guys who weren't expecting the puck to get there. He's the type of player who can lead the rush and he'll be the first guy back. I think his creativity makes him one of the top players in the league. He's like a chess player; he's thinking one or two moves ahead. He sees stuff coming that a lot of players don't see." - NHL Central Scouting's Blair MacDonald to NHL.com
Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa (OHL)
Born: December 21, 1993
Born In: Orleans, ON
GP: 64 G: 17 A: 43 P: 60 PIM: 14
LOWDOWN: Ceci's physical development over the last couple of years has bolstered his offensive game but hasn't hindered his skating. He has great speed for a player standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 207 lbs and is very techinically sound. Over the course of the season, he has greatly improved his mobility and lateral movement. In terms of his offensive production, Ceci has learned how to maximize his strength and puts it behind a booming shot. He is capable of quarterbacking a power play and makes a solid first pass.
Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener (OHL)
Born: January 9, 1994
Born In: Vitkov, CZE
GP: 62 G: 29 A: 37 P: 66 PIM: 47
LOWDOWN: It's difficult to find any major faults with Faksa's game. He was sensational in his first season in the OHL and ended up leading all rookies in goals scored (29), assists (37), points (66), game-winning goals (6) and plus-minus (plus-19). He shows great poise in all situations, was an excellent penalty-killer, played top-end minutes and is a great skater. He uses his strong frame to knock opponents off the puck, win puck battles and drive to the net. If his development continues to progress at the rate it has this year, he looks to be a solid NHL player for years to come.
Olli Maatta, D, London (OHL)
Born: August 22, 1994
Born In: Jyvaskyla, FIN
GP: 58 G: 5 A: 27 P: 32 PIM: 25
LOWDOWN: One of Maatta's greatest strengths is his hockey sense. The Finn reads plays very well and thinks the game at a very high level. Maatta's strong two-way play also has been a big part of his acsension in draft rankings throughout the season. His defensive positioning is excellent, he makes a good first pass, maintains composure in all situations and makes responsible decisions with or without the puck. During the OHL playoffs, his offensive game went into overdrive and he amassed 23 points (6 goals, 17 assists) in 19 games. He has an extremely accurate shot which played a large part in his postseason production. His solid play continued in the Memorial Cup tournament where he and the London Knights went all the way to final game before falling to Shawinigan in OT.
Jacob Trouba, D, U-18 (USHL)
Born: February 26, 1994
Born In: Rochester, MN
GP: 50 G: 9 A: 22 P: 31 PIM: 65
LOWDOWN: While skating is Trouba's strongest skill, the blueliner is above average in almost every category as well, making him a well-rounded defenceman. He makes very good decisions in the defensive zone, handles the puck well, competes hard physically and has an effective first pass. His work ethic is also top notch. Trouba's will to win and his compete level has been noted by many scouts and analysts.
WHAT SCOUTS SAY: "He has offense skills and he really does defend well. You can just tell by how he plays in all areas of the ice that he's a big kid who skates really well, he loves to jump into the play and has confidence because he knows his skating can get him back, so he rarely gets caught out of position. He's going to be someone people are going to talk about; we've known about him for a couple years and he hasn't disappointed." - NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory to NHL.com
Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton (WHL)
Born: January 24, 1994
Born In: North Vancouver, BC
GP: 58 G: 12 A: 24 P: 36 PIM: 38
LOWDOWN: Reinhart's second full season with the Edmonton Oil Kings has seen him progress into a solid two-way blueliner. Scouts love his first pass and offensive instincts and like how his defensive game continues to evolve as he gets a better handle on one-on-one coverage. Reinhart is very strong on his stick when he's carrying the puck and has a very hard shot. He shows great composure in high-pressure situations as well. Reinhart was a key component for the Oil Kings during the postseason when they captured the WHL Championship, logging big minutes and playing against the opposition's top players.