NHL Draft 2012: Comparing Nail Yakupov to Pavel Datsyuk

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The marquee at the Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2012 NHL draft, will be emblazoned with the name of Nail Yakupov, the No. 1 overall prospect in this year's class and a surefire future NHL All-Star.

But one glance at a list of the projected top 10 players shows just how talented the 2012 group really is—a crop dominated by elite two-way defensemen with serious offensive upside, a la future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer and the recently crowned Stanley Cup champion Drew Doughty.

The top forwards, led by Yakupov and other elite scorers, possess finely polished offensive talent and an acumen for the game that is beyond their years, especially considering that many are just 18 years old. Most importantly, they know how to finish a play and create offensive excitement. 

This draft year could produce the next Pavel Datsyuk, Corey Perry or Anze Kopitar. That's high praise for such an untested group of skaters, but this series will aim to put these burgeoning talents into context by comparing them to notable NHL names, making it easier to envision what each player could bring to the table.

Special thanks to Rogers Sportsnet. For all things 2012 NHL draft, and all of the other action that will take place during the offseason, stay locked on Bleacher Report.

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