The 2012 NHL draft starts at 7 p.m. ET on June 22, and the Edmonton Oilers will have a difficult decision over who to take with the top pick.
The entire first round can be seen live by Canadian viewers at TSN.ca. The site also has constant updates on all the action from the draft.
Here are the three players who deserve to be chosen first by the Oilers.
Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia
Most mock drafters are predicting Yakupov as the No. 1 pick.
This past season with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, he had 31 goals and 38 assists in 42 games. He is remarkably talented and is a potent point producer.
The Oilers will have two reservations with taking him with the top pick. First, NHL teams have worried about drafting Russian prospects, as they fear these players will return to their home country for the Kontinental Hockey League.
Also, the Oilers could pass because of their need for a defenseman. The team badly needs to improve its blue line, and there are several top prospects that will help them do this.
But in the end, Yakupov is the best player available in the draft, and the Oilers should not let anything else distract them from this fact.
Ryan Murray, D, Everett
If the Oilers do not want to take a Russian prospect, then Murray will be their man.
The defenseman is not an imposing physical force at 6’0” and 201 pounds, but he has excellent reactions and is incredibly skilled.
He is one of the most mature players in the draft and was the only youth player picked to represent Canada at the IIHF World Championships.
As noted, the Oilers need a blueliner, and Murray is the best one available. If the team decides to draft on need instead of picking the best player available, this is the right choice.
Murray is the best prospect at his position, and this puts him in play to be taken first overall.
Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec
Grigorenko is another prospect who is in play because of his position.
He is 6’3” and 200 pounds and is a force at center. As Alvin Chang of ESPN.com notes, centers tend to be the safest picks in the NHL draft.
If the Oilers have doubts about Yakupov’s skill, they will take a good look at the top centers on the board.
Grigorenko put in 40 goals and recorded 45 assists in 59 games for the Quebec Ramparts this past season. There are other talented centers available, but his size and skill make him the most exciting prospect at the position.
He is the least likely of the three to go at No. 1, but if the Oilers want a center, he is the player they should choose.
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