2012 NHL Draft logo2012 NHL Draft

Nail Yakupov and the Future Franchise Cornerstones of the NHL

Kevin W. RyanContributor IIIFebruary 1, 2012

Nail Yakupov and the Future Franchise Cornerstones of the NHL

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    Many fans negate the importance of the NHL Draft every year. This fallacy reverses direction once that coveted No. 1 overall pick hits the top of scoring charts. This year's All-Star squad proves that lasts years standouts aren't going to be around forever. 

    The recent No. 1 overall picks have proven to be some of the most talented players in the league, including All-Stars Patrick Kane, Rick Nash, Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, the list goes on and on... 

    Here's a look at the future of the most pure sport on Earth...

Couture & Couturier

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    Logan Couture and Sean Couturier are two of the brightest young stars in the game today.

    Sharks winger Couture seems to be the only one for the Sharks who can consistently light the lamp. With 21 goals and 15 assists, Logan will hopefully continue his impressive first half of the season at only 22 years of age. 

    Even more impressive is Flyers 19-year old rookie Sean Couturier, who has recorded 19 points and a +13 rating through 44 games. He will soon assume one of the Flyers' many scoring leader roles from the veterans—who seem to be a perfect fit to raise Couturier into a superstar. 

Team USA's U-18 Trio

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    Jacob Trouba, Stefan Matteau, and Brady Skjei are top-10 North American prospects heading into the 2012 NHL Draft, all three from Team USA's Under-18 squad. 

    More and more players are being drafted at just 18 years old, and Trouba, Matteau, and Skjei are the next to go from the United States.  

    Trouba and Skjei both hold the blue line at 6'3'', carry cannon-like shots, and have supreme defensive containment while Stefan Matteau utilizes his unique speed to separate himself from defenders. 

Edmonton's First Line

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    The Oilers landed the first overall pick in the NHL Draft two years in a row—a misleading toast to a poor previous year.

    Whatever the stance on the franchise's recent performance, the Oilers have landed three young, purely talented players in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle. Eberle went 22nd overall in 2008, while Hall and RNH went No. 1 overall in 2010 and 2011, respectively.  

    The Oilers were 100/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup before this season started, so it goes without saying that the bunch still has some learning to do before banners hang next to The Great Ones.   

Colin Greening

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    Colin Greening is quickly becoming one of the top two-way players in the game. Greening was primarily named to the 2012 All-Star Rookie squad because of his ridiculously hard shot and quick release—just ask Annti Niemi.

    Similar to the Sharks Logan Couture, Greening played 24 games at the tail end of last season, so technically he was considered a rookie coming into the 2011-12 season.

    Coupled with the sensational 21-year-old Erik Karlsson—a defenseman second in the entire league in assists, one behind Henrik Sedin. Karlsson is on pace to break Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey's record for single-season assists by a defenseman. Hopefully veterans Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza utilize their last few years to breed Karlsson and Greening into superstars. 

Filip Forsberg

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    No relation to the Forsberg that put up almost 900 points in the NHL, yet Filip credits his talent and passion for the beautiful game to having a father that played professionally. 

    Filip truly put on a show—with the rest of the 2011 World Junior Champion Swedish National Team. He has even found himself on NHL prospect watch since he was 15 years old.  

    Look for Forsberg to make a name for himself in the NHL after a likely first round pick in this upcoming draft. 

Bradyen Schenn and the Mike Richards Trade Impact

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    Aside from the fact his first career NHL goal broke the scoreless tie in the 2012 Winter Classic, Schenn is destined for a future Art Ross Trophy.

    Schenn was claimed by the LA Kings as their 5th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but was limited to just nine games. He burst back onto the radar while winning two silver medals for Team Canada in the World Junior Tournament in 2010 and 2011.

    In the 2011 tilt, Schenn was named to the All-Tournament Team after tying Canada's all-time record from points in a junior tournament. He was named Top Forward of the entire tournament as well as overall Most Valuable Player. 

    Brayden was sent to Philadelphia with high-intensity forward Wayne Simmonds in exchange for Captain Mike Richards and top scorer Simon Gagne. The Kings we're looking to add a scoring threat but instead they sent a future franchise player for two burnt out veterans who have yet to prove themselves in LA.

    Schenn's future in Philly is bright as long as he can mature with highly touted rookies Matt Read and Sean Couturier.  

Subban Family Circus

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    Malcolm, P.K., and Jordan hope to become the next trio of brothers to land in the NHL. 

    Odds are, that is going to happen. P.K. has already proven his talent for the Montreal Canadiens, but this upcoming draft could yield a first round pick for his brother Malcolm.

    All three Subbans grew up playing defense but Malcolm switched to goalie and immediately made a name for himself.

    The brothers Subban are most known around the OHL for their "shirt-flapping" speed and unique passion for the game. It's extremely possible they follow the Staal brothers into the league—very successfully at that. 

Nail Yakupov

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    This kid is simply unreal. His game is so Ovechkin-esque he has been the No. 1 overall prospect for two years; everyone knows you can't pick up the hot girl until she's 18! 

    Through his rookie season in the OHL, Yakupov chalked up 101 points in 62 games played (49 G; 52 A) and through 29 games this season the future superstar already has 22 goals and 33 assists. 55 points in 29 games? "That's like taking candy from a...candy-hating-baby." 

    It's safe to say Yakupov has the scouts watching his every move leading up to the 2012 NHL Draft, and hopefully with a little more growth and maturity he can join Steven Stamkos and John Tavares with incredibly successful OHL-to-NHL transitions.  

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