Mikhail Grigorenko is your new top-ranked 2012 NHL draft prospect, according to International Scouting Services.
The 17-year-old Russian forward leapfrogs another Russian forward, 18-year-old Nail Yakupov, who fell to No. 2 on the list.
Grigorenko, a playmaker that ISS compares to Joe Thornton, is currently plying his trade with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.
Yakupov, reportedly more of a Pavel Bure/Taylor Hall-type, plays for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL.
So why Grigorenko over Yakupov?
“(Grigorenko’s) ability to amplify the skill sets of those around him is what sets him apart from the rest of the pack,” said ISS Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis, as per TSN.ca. “And while the incredible offensive talents of Yakupov are nothing to take lightly, Grigorenko has shown better as of late and this isn’t the first time.”
The Mikhail-versus-Nail debate probably won’t reach Taylor-versus-Tyler levels of hysteria, but it must be encouraging for Russian hockey fans that two of their own could be the first and second picks this summer. The last Russian to go first overall was Alex Ovechkin, in 2004.
The top American player on the ISS list is defenseman Jacob Trouba (No. 6) of the U.S. National U18 Team.
The top Canadian is defenseman Ryan Murray (No. 4) of the Everett Silvertips.
The 2012 NHL draft is considered especially rich in defensemen. Good news for the Washington Capitals, who own Colorado’s first-round pick thanks to the Semyon Varlamov trade.
You can read the full list here.