A PREVIEW INTO THE UPCOMING 2012 NHL DRAFT FROM PITTSBURGH'S CONSOL ENERGY CENTERNews | 6/6/2012 2:53:16 PM | ROCHESTER AMERICANS
The beginning of June traditionally means that hockey season is winding down and summer is right around the corner, making it somehow easy to forget that the National Hockey League is in the midst of perhaps its most exciting month before heading to its three-month state of dormancy that is the offseason.
The month of June is quite actually the culmination of any hockey season. The eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings are just one game away from capping off a remarkable Cinderella season with their first Stanley Cup in franchise history while the top up-and-coming players across the globe are currently showcasing their on-ice skills and putting their physical conditioning on display at the annual NHL Scouting Combine.
But within the next few weeks, after the NHL has crowned this year’s world champions, the focus will soon shift to the upcoming 2012 Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, where the league’s 30 teams will welcome the newest members of their organization while fulfilling the dreams of those fortunate enough to earn the opportunity. The Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, will serve as the host venue for the two-day event, which is scheduled for Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23.
Highly touted forward Nail Yakupov, the top ranked North American skater featured in this year’s draft, is projected to go to the Edmonton Oilers with the first overall pick. A native of Nizhnekamsk, Russia, Yakupov recently completed his second season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting, scoring a team-high 31 goals and finishing second with 69 points. As a rookie during the 2010-11 campaign, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward led all OHL freshmen in scoring with an astounding 101 points (49+52), which placed fourth among the league’s top point-getters. He also finished in the top five in nearly every offensive category, including goals (49) and power-play goals (16). A three-time OHL Rookie of the Month for October, January and February, Yakupov was named the OHL’s Rookie of the Year at the close of the regular season, becoming the first Sarnia player in team history to be honored with the distinction. He was also named to the OHL’s All-Rookie team before earning CHL Rookie of the Year honors.
The Buffalo Sabres will have two first-round selections in the upcoming draft, beginning with 12th overall pick following the Washington Capitals. The Sabres will then have the 21st overall pick that originally belonged to the Nashville Predators, who acquired former Amerk Paul Gaustad and a fourth-round pick in the 2013 Entry Draft in exchange from Buffalo prior to the trade deadline.
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