With the 2012 NHL draft fast approaching, excitement builds as to who will be the No. 1 overall pick, and which direction teams will lean.
There is one consensus elite player in the draft, Russian right wing Nail Yakupov, but there are a few more top-tier talents who should do franchises proud.
Here's a look at the prospects to watch for as the 2012 NHL draft kicks off on NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.
Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia (OHL)
Largely regarded as the best player in the draft, Russian star Nail Yakupov could potentially become the next great player in the NHL. He's lightning-fast on the ice, incredibly creative and he simply has a nose for the net.
When you combine his skill set with his desire, it's no wonder why the 18-year-old is being looked at as a franchise-changer. The Edmonton Oilers hold the No. 1 overall pick and, although their greatest need is on defense, it's hard to pass up a prospect like Yakupov.
Ryan Murray, D, Everett (WHL)
Widely considered to be the best defenseman in the draft, Ryan Murray has the potential to be a star in the NHL, as well.
Murray, 18, is a tough, physical defender who plays a reliable game and can be counted on to defend the net. We've already seen what he's capable of against better competition at the World Championships. The likely No. 2 overall pick.
Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia (OHL)
Is Alex Galchenyuk a legit top-3 pick?
Some draft experts have Mikhail Grigorenko of Quebec going No. 3 overall, but his character concerns, coupled with questions whether he will bolt for the KHL, makes Alex Galchenyuk the safe top-three pick.
Galchenyuk is coming off a torn ACL, but his potential is vast. He has a good head on his shoulders and plays a reliable game. His ability to create and score makes him a complete prospect. He needs more time to develop, but you can't deny his potential down the line.