Two Russians lead 2012 NHL draft class

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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.

Flames provide Spencer Foo with ‘really good opportunity’

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After giving it a lot of thought, NCAA standout Spencer Foo decided to join the Calgary Flames.

Many expected him to sign with his hometown Oilers. Although he didn’t opt to go that way, he still managed to sign a contract with a team in the province he’s from.

Being close to home isn’t the only reason the 23-year-old decided to settle on Calgary. The opportunity they were willing to give him also played a factor in his decision.

“A couple of different reasons. One was opportunity,” Foo told beat reporter Wes Gilberston. The Flames have a really good opportunity on the right side and have a lot of exciting players down the middle and on the left wing to play with. So I figured that pretty much whoever I’m playing with on the Flames, they’re going to be great linemates, and that’s exciting.”

Having Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and a stacked defense certainly didn’t hurt their chances with Foo.

The Union College product put up some incredible numbers in 2016-17. He had 26 goals and 62 points in just 38 contests. Only Flyers prospect Michael Vecchione managed to put up more points (he had one more) for Union College last season.

Another reason Foo chose the Flames is because he believes they’re ready to win right away.

We’ll see where he slots in next fall.

Report: McDavid’s next cap hit will be in $13 million range

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The Edmonton Oilers continue to be busy this off-season. Not only are they looking to bring in new players to help improve their squad, they also have to look at re-signing their two best players.

Leon Draisaitl‘s contract comes to an end on July 1st, while Connor McDavid‘s entry-level deal expires next summer, but it sure sounds like both contracts will get done in the near future.

According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, McDavid is about to become the highest paid player in the NHL by a wide margin.

Both are reporting that McDavid’s new deal is going to be for eight years and over $13 million per season.

Those are big numbers, but it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve that kind of salary.

The 20-year-old was the only player in the league to put up 100 points in 2016-17. His effort on the ice led him to his first Hart and Art Ross Trophies.

Edmonton currently has just over $17.1 million in cap space. Obviously, their two franchise centers will eat up that entire number, but McDavid still has one year left on his current deal, so a new contract would only kick in for the 2018-19 season.

PHT Morning Skate: Crosby would ‘love to’ be a goalie for a game

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Sidney Crosby has accomplished so much in his career, but there’s still one thing he wants to cross off his bucket list. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Crosby admitted that he’d like to be a goalie for a game. “I’d love to play one game in the NHL (as a goalie). We’ll see. There’s still some time left if it ever came down to it. I’d love to get that.” Just a hunch, but I don’t think the Pens would go for that. (Top)

–The Score looks at three 2017 draft prospects that will have the most long-term value to their respective teams. The first two picks of the draft are on the list, but the third name may surprise you. (The Score)

–As you may remember, Connor McDavid took an awkward looking picture with two strangers hugging him pretty tight. The picture, which took place at an airport, immediately went viral. Now, McDavid explained exactly how everything unfolded. Well, that story is pretty stupid. I was walking into the security line and I had actually walked past them. And then they say ‘hey Connor can we get a picture?’ and I say ‘sure’ and sure enough they come up to me and start hugging me. (Yahoo)

–Devils beat reporter Chris Ryan sat down for a Q&A with top pick Nico Hischier, who has a pretty busy summer ahead of him. “I’ll go back (o Switzerland) and practice and do my workouts every day, then I’ll come for Development Camp, and they’ll sit together and tell me what I still need, what I need to improve. Then I’ll go back again and work on those things.” (NJ.com)

–Speaking of Hischier, did you know that he didn’t start playing hockey full time until he was 12 years old? That’s only six years ago. “What you’re looking at is a guy who has a big upside and isn’t even close to reaching the ceiling,” Devils head coach John Hynes said. (New York Times)

 –Kyle Beach was selected 11th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2008. Unfortunately for Beach, he never made it to the NHL and he still isn’t over that. “Whenever you get as close as I did and don’t make it, there are going to be a lot of questions that never can be answered. I was a player growing up who never had to work that hard because I was always a top player. It was a rude awakening. Could I have been more prepared? Absolutely.” (Chicago Tribune)

Video: Crosby to Dan Patrick – Subban fight ‘wasn’t as bad as it looked’

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Listerine, the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, and a growing rivalry. Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban battled it out at the highest level not so long ago, but some of that action looked worse than it actually was.

At least, that’s the message Crosby sent on “The Dan Patrick Show,” as you can enjoy in the clip above.

As a bonus, Crosby also discussed his favorite Stanley Cup traditions – hey, there can be traditions when something happens three times – and how Mario Lemieux inspires some especially creative ideas: