The NHL draft weekend is upon us.
Not only does that mean the future stars of tomorrow (or perhaps star—singular) have finally arrived, but it also means that we could soon be privy to an abundance of exciting trades.
Whether Edmonton will hold on to its No. 1 overall selection in order to take top winger Nail Yakupov or finally trade that top pick in order to bring in some veteran talent is the big story of this year's draft.
Will a certain Blue Jackets forward perhaps be on the move in exchange for a higher pick? Will Roberto Luongo be another veteran on the move?
To make sure you don't miss a single second of the action over the next two days, you can watch it go down live on NBC Sports Network (Friday) and the NHL Network (Saturday) or you can catch TSN's live stream.
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
When: Friday, June 22 at 7 p.m. ET and Saturday, June 23 at 10 a.m. ET
Watch: NBC Sports Network (Friday) and NHL Network (Saturday)
Live Stream: TSN.ca
Top Prospect to Watch: Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
In a year when there's a serious drop-off in superstar potential after the first pick, there is no chance that anyone other than the Russian forward will be the top selection. It's just a matter of whether he'll be going to Edmonton, or whether another team will use its veteran talent to pry the top pick out of the Oilers' hands.
Edmonton is picking first for the third consecutive year, and though Yakupov is a tempting pick, it's time for the Oilers to bring in some experience alongside former top selections Taylor Hall (2010) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011).
What makes Yakupov so special? His aggressive style and his willingness to deliver—and take—the big hit, Red Line Report chief scout Kyle Woodlief told Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe:
He plays a pretty aggressive, physical style. He has a pretty reckless body and a willingness to drive the net hard. He’ll stick his nose into the traffic areas. He’s not at all a perimeter guy.
Prospect Expected to Fall: Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Many mock drafts (including a couple of my own) have Grigorenko going as high as second overall, but he's one of the prospects whose stock is expected to fall before Friday's first round gets underway.
While some scouts are impressed with Grigorenko's potential to be an offensive superstar—and by his 89 points in 59 games with Quebec this season—others are concerned that he doesn't consistently give 100 percent in terms of effort.
Case in point: The QMJHL playoffs this year, when he had three points in seven games and insisted it was because of mono. Rumor has it, though, he was overcome by a bout of laziness.
A top-two—or a top-five—draft selection is a big gamble to take on a player who doesn't play hard all the time. As a result, expect Grigorenko to be our first faller on Friday night.
Projected Top 10
1. Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
2. Columbus Blue Jackets: Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
3. Montreal Canadiens: Ryan Murray, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
4. New York Islanders: Filip Forsberg, C/RW, Leksands IF (Allsvenskan)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
6. Anaheim Ducks: Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
7. Minnesota Wild: Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
8. Carolina Hurricanes: Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Jokerit (Finland)
9. Winnipeg Jets: Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
10. Tampa Bay Lightning: Jacob Trouba, D, U.S. U-18 Team