With the NHL Draft lottery set to take place tomorrow night, leave it to Central Scouting to give teams their final rankings so everyone knows who they’re gunning for a the draft in June.
It’s probably not a surprise to anyone who has followed the player draft rankings all year, but Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov is still the No. 1 North American player to be taken this year courtesy of NHL.com. The NHL Central Scouting Service put out their final listing of North American players ahead of the June draft and Yakupov, like he did before the season and at the mid-term, took home the top spot.
At 5’10” 190 pounds, Yakupov isn’t physically imposing, but according to Mike Morreale of NHL.com, he’s earning comparisons to Pavel Bure with his speed and scoring ability. At 18-years-old, Yakupov could be the piece any of the lottery teams need to get a game-changing scorer.
Rounding out the top-five skaters on the Central Scouting list, defenseman Ryan Murray is the new No.2 swapping spots with forward Mikhail Grigorenko. Forward Alex Galchenyuk sits fourth while defenseman Morgan Rielly is fifth. Forward Filip Forsberg topped Central Scouting’s list of European skaters. Forsberg is expected to be in talk for one of the lottery picks this year as well.
Who gets to snag Yakupov? The Blue Jackets have the best shot of winning the draft lottery and picking first while Edmonton, Montreal, the New York Islanders, and Toronto round out the group with a shot at the top pick. Any team can win the lottery, but only teams in the bottom five have a shot at the first pick overall.
Check out this video from NHL.com on Yakupov: