When you look at rankings of players for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, you'll pretty much see the same players on every list, just not in the same order. And of course, my list is no different. Sure there will be the odd player that someone has on their list that no one else has on theirs. Again, no different here. It's not an exact science and never will be.
This year, with the number of injuries to key players, is more difficult to set in stone than any other year. About the only injuries that haven't affected a players ranking so far are Nail Yakupov, who remains at the top of just about every list you come across and Malcolm Subban who remains at the top of the goaltending ranks on those same lists.
Then of course there is Alex Galchenyuk's injury. He may make a comeback come playoff time but that remains to be seen. He had such a terrific rookie season that it's hard to drop him, yet on some lists he has and others he remains just behind Yakupov. Slater Koekkoek has dropped a spot or two to the benefit of the Matt Finn's and Olli Maatta's of the hockey world. Adam Pelech was on almost everyone's list at the beginning of the season and only just returning a couple of weeks ago since going down in the first week has dropped off most lists.
Matia Marcantuoni was projected by many to be a top 10 pick and has just returned from his second injury. Artur Gavrus was making a name for himself and attracting attention until he was sidelined with an injury. Daniil Zharkov came from Russia with loads of talent but didn't play until November. He has 15 goals in 19 games just 6 behind Yakupov and 5 behind Brendan Gaunce who have played 7 and 17 more games respectively.
Then you have players that have talent and have shown it in the past that are having bad seasons in terms of what was expected or what they should be capable of. Nick Ebert and Andreas Athanasiou come to mind right away. Add in the players that you knew had some talent and ability but have taken it even one step further like the above mentioned Matt Finn, Dylan Blujus or Gemel Smith.
So how do you take this all into consideration? Hard to do but that's why personally I try to rank them monthly on what has happened in that month. Some players move up at the expense of those that have missed time. But you can't just brush a player aside because he's injured or at the World Junior Championships. A lot of lists will change between now and June, and this one is no different.
Here's a look at the top 5 players in my rankings :
Nail Yakupov : Quite simply the most talented player available in this draft.
Cody Ceci : Has taken his offense to a higher level than expected while still improving his defensive game. In 5 years we could look at him and say he was the best two way defenseman available in the draft.
Olli Maatta : Keeps on getting better as he gains more experience in North America. Good at both ends but won't put up the offensive numbers as some of the others.
Alex Galchenyuk : If not for the injury that knocked him out for the season, he'd probably be right behind Yakupov. Based on last year, hard to drop him any lower.
Brendan Gaunce : Gaunce may come as a surprise to some here. Already possesses an NHL caliber shot and his defensive game is as close to NHL ready as it can come. Has very good size brings a physical aspect to his game. He has all the attributes scouts salivate over.
For the complete list of my top 20 skaters and top 5 goaltenders, click the "My Rankings" tab at the top of this page.