TORONTO – Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov was listed as the top North American-based skater in the draft final rankings released by NHL central scouting Monday.
The 18-year-old from Nizhnekamsk, Russia, recorded 31 goals and 69 points in 42 games for the Ontario Hockey League’s Sting during an injury-shortened 2011-12 season. Last season, he finished tied for fourth in the OHL with 101 points.
If Yakupov is picked first overall at the June 22 draft in Pittsburgh he would be the fifth OHL player selected No. 1 overall in the last six drafts, joining Patrick Kane (London, 2007), Steven Stamkos (Sarnia, 2008), John Tavares (London, 2009) and Taylor Hall (Windsor, 2010).
The top European-based skater is Swedish forward Filip Forsberg, who plays for Leksand in his country’s domestic league.
The six-foot-two centre had eight goals and 17 points in 43 games between Leksand and its junior team last season. He won gold for Sweden at this year’s world junior championships and is looking to become the first Swedish-born player to be selected first overall since Mats Sundin in 1989.
The draft lottery, a weighted system to determine the order of selection for the first 14 picks, will take place Tuesday night.
Other players expected to be drafted in the top-5, according to central scouting, include defenceman Ryan Murray of the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips, Russian centre Mikhail Grigorenko of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, defenceman Morgan Rielly of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors and Alex Galchenyuk of the Sting.
The NHL scouting ranked Malcolm Subban, brother of Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban, as the top-rated goaltender in North America. The Toronto native compiled 25 wins with a 2.50 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 39 appearances for the OHL’s Belleville Bulls this season.