The Dean’s List received a special request from a few forum members eager to get the upper hand on 2012 NHL draft eligible players likely to carry some relevant fantasy value in the very near feature. Not surprising, the number one ranked prospect for the upcoming NHL Entry draft also headlines TDL’s fantasy-based rankings. Developing ranks for fantasy purpose alone is certainly different than lists distributed by actual scouting services as the importance lies in mainly offensive rewards.
Intangible qualities such as grit and defensive-zone skills are sought after by NHL teams but in the world of fantasy hockey it is important to get your mitts on players with higher upsides even if it comes with more assumed risk or bust potential. Weighing the risk-reward of drafting the forty-point gauranteed NHLer over the riskier potential point-per-game player becomes an internal struggle that fantasy junkies must resolve. Smaller, European players considered by many professional scouts to be “projects” (meaning the player has good raw hockey skills but will likely take time to develop with more bust potential) hold more value in fantasy rankings simply based on their potential offensive upside. The Dean’s List has adjusted the following rankings to factor in NHL likelihood and offensive potential to ensure that the rankings remain realistic.
**Emphasis on fantasy leagues with straight points and positional settings (C, LW, RW)**
1. Nail Yakupov, RW (Sarnia, OHL)
Barring a masterful surge from the Columbus Blue Jackets or a devastating loss at the NHL Lottery Draft, it appears that the Russian winger Yakupov is likely to find himself headed to the state of Ohio. Nail Yakupov entered North America as a high flying dynamic scoring winger able to pot goals at will. Despite breaking former Sarnia Sting Steven Stamkos' OHL rookie point totals notching 101, the Russian sniper has improved his game even more this season showcasing his elite ability at playmaking, adding to his deadly arsenal. Yakupov has all the potential to become one of the NHL’s elite forwards of the future with his elusive quick skating abilities, hair-trigger release and deft passing abilities. Nail Yakupov will hold extra value in fantasy leagues that distinguish wingers and his tendency to play on the edge benefiting leagues that reward categories of hits and penalty minutes.
2. Mikhail Grigorenko, C (Quebec, QMJHL)
Experts are comparing the one-two Russian punch of the 2012 draft class to the 2004 crop when Russians Ovechkin and Malkin went first and second overall. The comparison is fair as Yakupov is to Ovechkin as Grigorenko is to Malkin. Playing for Quebec in the QMJHL, Grigorenko has shown how he is able to control the pace of the game through puck protection. Mikhail has all the physical tools to become a fantasy contributor – size, strength, stong skater, lively-shot and elite hockey sense. TDL believes the Joe Thornton comparison is most accurate for Mikhail Grigorenko.
3. Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW (Sarnia, OHL)
Flying under the radar slightly due to his season long knee rehabilitation, Alex Galchenyuk has teams slightly concerned about using a top five pick on the American born Russian but he is certainly worth it. The Dean's List has had more than enough viewings of Alex Galchenyuk last season to understand that he could become the best NHL player of this group. Blessed with good size, elite hockey sense, x-ray-like vision and a swift stick that even teammate Nail Yakupov has gushed over, Alex Galchenyuk will certainly offer your fantasy squad with consistent offensive production. For further reading on Alex Galchenyuk please read his profile here (posted Saturday, February 11th).
4. Filip Forsberg, LW (Leksan