Leading up to the 2012 draft, Flordiapanthers.com will be highlighting some of the top prospects to look out for.
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THE SKINNY: Despite only playing in 42 games due to injuries, Yakupov was Central Scouting's top prospect both at the mid term and final rankings after posting 101 points in 65 games last year and then 69 points (31 goals) this season. Yakupov led the way for Russia at the World Junior Championships, collecting nine assists as the Russians netted a silver medal.
Often compared to former Panther Pavel Bure due to their similar games, the top prospect actually idolized the dynamic star growing up. "I love the way he played. (He was) very explosive, a great skater, very creative and (he) loved to score goals."
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards: "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 Team: Detroit and Vancouver NHL Player: Pavel Bure, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby Shootout Move: "It's a secret" Actor:Jason Statham Website: NHL.com Activity Away From The Rink: Hanging out with friends and teammates Home-Cooked Meal: Pasta and chicken
NEWS: Top Prospect Yakupov Excels No Matter The Situation (02.28.12) 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, 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.