NHL Draft 2012 TV Schedule: Prospects to Watch for Early on

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJune 22, 2012

CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 5:  Nail Yakupov #10 of Team Russia waits for a face-off during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship Gold Medal game against Team Sweden at the Scotiabank Saddledome on January 5, 2012 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Team Sweden defeated Team Russia 1-0 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

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)

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.

 

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