World Juniors: Top 10 2012 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect Performances

Part 1: First Year NHL 2012 Entry Draft Eligible Prospects 

It is no secret the World Junior Hockey Championships provides an outstanding opportunity for scouts to evaluate prospects – both drafted and undrafted. One does, however, have to keep in mind that it is not easy for a prospect in his first year of eligibility to make a tremendous impact in this tournament.

The WJCs are typically dominated by 19 year olds. It stands to reason then if a 17 or 18 year old first year draft eligible player has a solid tournament they can raise their stock immensely or cement their stranglehold as a high end prospect.

A less than stellar performance may not necessarily result in a subsequent dip in a players stock as scouts have realistic expectations. However, glaring weaknesses could potentially be exposed that may not have been previously apparent. It is also an opportunity to see how a player responds to playing at this high level amongst his peers.

Part 1 will highlight the top 10 performances by first-year 2012 draft eligible prospects, with Part 2 soon to follow looking at the top 10  over-agers that have been previously passed over in the draft at least one year.

*Please note that this is not a ranking of the prospects for the 2012 NHL draft, but simply rating their performance at the World Juniors. 


The Top 10 2012 NHL Entry Draft Eligible Prospect Performances – 1st Year of Eligibility:

Nail Yakupov
Nail Yakupov: explosive for Russia at 2012 World Juniors {Alyonka Larionov Photography}

1. Nail Yakupov: Forward – Russia (Sarnia Sting, OHL)

Yakupov had a slightly perplexing tournament. He somehow transformed from a sniper to a playmaker. He was definitely snake-bitten on a multitude of opportunities throughout the World Juniors. He registered 9 assists in 7 games with surprisingly no goals. What was on fine display, however, was his explosiveness and creativity.

Draft Stock: Unchanged

Projected Round Drafted: 1st round (likely 1st or 2nd overall)

2. Sebastian Collberg: Forward, Sweden (Frolunda, SEL)

2012 Draft Eligible Sebastian Collberg of Team Sweden sports his Gold Medal (Chris Ralph/THW)

While Collberg’s potential was never in doubt, his ability to have such a positive impact on this tournament was surprising to most. The speedy sniper notched 4 goals and 3 assists for 7 points in 6 games. Add in two super-slick shootout goals to round out his impressive performance. Although he will be likely be drafted behind countryman Filip Forsberg come June, he definitely outplayed Forsberg on this stage.

Draft Stock: Elevated

Projected Round Drafted: First round (first half)

3. Mikhail Grigorenko: forward, Russia (Quebec Ramparts, QMJHL)

Grigorenko had a curious tournament. In what was Evgeny Kuznetsov’s near record breaking performance against Latvia, Grigorenko was actually easily the best player on the ice for the 1st period. Early in the third he left with an ankle injury that was feared would keep him out of the rest of the tournament. However, it wasn’t as bad as initially expected and he was able to return to play in what appeared to be a somewhat limited capacity. His talent level is immense, however.

Draft Stock: Unchanged

Projected Round Drafted: 1st round (likely top 3 pick)

4. Andrei Vasilevski: Goalie, Russia

Coach Bragin didn’t start him for the gold medal game, but that was not because of Vasilevski’s ability. The big netminder with a lightning fast glove hand was on the radar for many scouts, but his play undoubtedly left many stunned. His combination of technique and athletic ability leaves one to think he has ridiculous upside.

Draft Stock: Skyrocketed

Projected Round Drafted: 2nd round (He might be a candidate for a late 1st round selection)


5. Ryan Murray: Defense, Canada (Everett Silvertips, WHL)

Besides the nightmare semifinal game against Russia, Murray actually had a good overall tournament. He was a plus 6 and had 3 assists in 6 games. He is an efficient defender with a beautiful skating stride and projects to be a high end blueliner at the next level. He may, however, not be the best 2012 eligible blueliner from Canada when it is all said and done. Mathew Dumba was not selected by Hockey Canada, but may just have a higher upside than Murray. He would have been very interesting to watch at the World Juniors.

Draft Stock: Likely unchanged, but may have slightly dipped

Projected Round Drafted: 1st round (likely top 3-5 pick)

6. Filip Forsberg: Centre, Sweden (Leksands, Allsvenskan)

Forsberg had a fairly uneventful tournament, but was not given a substantial role on the team. He did manage to somehow get player of the game honours in a game which Max Friberg scored 4 goals. The 2-way centreman will be a good one at the next level.

Draft Stock: Unchanged

Projected Round Drafted: 1st round (likely top 10 pick)

7. Zemgus Girgensons: Forward – Latvia (Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL)

Girgensons had a tough tournament, but definitely showed glimpses. His play is reminiscent of former NHLer Rod Brind’Amour.

Draft Stock: Unchanged

Projected Round Drafted: 1st round

8. Tomas Hertl: Forward, Czech Republic

Hertl’s play and stat-line of 3 goals and 2 assists in 6 games was very impressive, tying for the team lead in scoring. He exhibited strong and savvy puck possession skills.

Draft Stock: Elevated

Projected Round Drafted: 1st round (may dip to the 2nd round)

9. Jacob Trouba: Defense, USA (USA U-18)

Trouba’s play on the blueline was one of the few bright spots Team USA could take from this tournament.

Draft Stock: unchanged (possibly slightly elevated)

Projected Round Drafted: 1st round

10. Radek Faksa: Forward, Czech Republic

Faksa has opened a lot of eyes in the scouting world with his relative smooth transition to the North American game and success in the OHL. The gritty offensive forward with good size did nothing to hurt his chances of being a first-rounder come June. He potted 2 goals in 6 games for the Czech Republic.

Draft Stock: Unchanged

Projected Round Drafted: 1st round



Ville Pokka: Defense, Finland

With a big blow to the blueline when Olli Määttä was injured in Finland’s first game of the tournament (see below), Pokka’s role increased substantially. The young defenseman did not disappoint exhibiting his solid 2-way play which leans towards the offensive side. Pokka finished the championships tied for 6th in scoring amongst defenseman scoring with 4 points in 7 games.

2012 NHL Draft Eligible Ville Pokka of Team Finland – Stock Rising (Chris Ralph/THW)

Draft Stock: Elevated

Projected Round Drafted: 2nd round (Outside chance of sneaking in the 1st round; conversely may still slip to the 3rd round)


Dark Horses:

Teodors Blugers: Forward, Latvia

Blugers is an intriguing prospect currently playing in the hockey hotbed high school with its famous alumni – Shattuck St. Mary’s. He’s an intelligent 2-way forward with a penchant for success in the faceoff circle. He had a respectable 3 points in 6 games for Latvia in this tournament. (Link to profile and interview)

Draft Stock: Elevated

Projected Round Drafted: mid to latter round sleeper pick


Christoph Bertschy: Forward, Switzerland

Bertschy (not to be confused with Calgary Flames 1st round pick in 2011 Sven Bartchi) had a solid tournament notching 2 goals and 2 assists in 6 games.

Draft Stock: Elevated

Projected Round Drafted: mid to latter round sleeper pick

Infirmary Report:

*The following potential first rounders did not get to display their talents at the World Juniors this year:


Olli Määttä: Defense, Finland (London Knights, OHL)

  • He was unfortunately injured in the first game of the tournament.

Pontus Aberg: Forward, Sweden (Leksands, Allsvenskan)

  • He was injured just before the tournament.
Martin Frk: Forward, Czech Republic
  • He was sidelined with concussion issues.

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