The Leafs Nation big board: Top Forwards

 (Brad White/Getty Images)

Furthering up on our Defenceman/Goaltender “Big Board” from earlier today, we look now at the forwards on our list, at least one of which will be available at #5.

Using the collective analysis of Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus and Craig Button of TSN, I pieced together common things said and written about each prospect, along with what we ought to like and not like about the perceived talents of a hockey player. There are three centremen and three wingers on this list, and we’re trying to find elements in these players’ games that will make them good pieces at the NHL-level. With such a high pick in the draft, two-way play is at a premium.

Here are TLN’s top forwards, ranked 1-through-6:

#1 – Nail Yakupov, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

10/06/1993 – 5’11” 190

Common threads: “He has the ability to push the tempo up the ice and keep defenders on their heels, but he’s probably even more dangerous at a standstill with high-end agility” “arguably the best skater in the 2012 draft. It’s a blend of speed, power, quickness and agility that threatens” “excellent sense and can make plays that make him very challenging to keep in check” “his hockey sense is very good, with the creativity and instincts that tend to have him steps ahead of the pace at the OHL level”

What I like: Speedy, playmaking goal-scorer who was always dangerous when he was on the ice.

What I don’t like: He won’t be available at #5.

#2 – Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

02/12/1994 – 6’1″ 198

Common threads: “An excellent understanding of all the critical elements of the game” “true strengths lie in his puck skills, vision, and overall possession ability” “also dangerous on the cycle with a big body and a good physical work ethic” “assertive with his body and he plays in traffic well and gains advantages 1-on-1”

What I like: A big centreman who may be able to crack the Leafs this season and play between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. Or, a big centreman that they can develop for another year.

What I don’t like: Coming off a year of injury always raises questions. Will that affect his ability to be physical?

#3 – Filip Forsberg, Leksands IF (Swe-1)

08/13/1994 – 6’2″ 181

Common threads: “His frame is pretty muscular for a 17-year-old born in August, which is visible in his puck battles and how well he is able to control the puck” “he’s assertive in establishing his presence and gaining valuable space for himself” “another weapon Forsberg has is his shot” “his shot is hard and accurate and he can score from 35-40 feet”

What I like: Less like his namesake than people expect, I like the idea of a guy who sets up along the wall and has the ability to either drive the puck to the net or shoot it from the circle. It makes him a good powerplay weapon as a guy who can work high or low.

What I don’t like: Not a centreman. You hear a lot of his playmaking ability, but not so much his defensive or puck-possession abilities.

#4 – Tuevo Teräväinen, Jokerit (SM-liiga)

09/11/1994 – 5’11” 165

Common threads: “He’s the kind of player who scouts destribe as ‘a player who sees everything'” “above average finishing skills” “calm in the eye of the storm patience” “an uncanny ability to remain calm, poised and fully aware of his options” “360 degrees vision”

What I like: His age. If he’s this good as a guy who was four days from the cut-off, imagine how good he’ll be with that extra year of development. 

What I don’t like: Size, of course, and finishing ability.

#5 – Radek Faksa, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

01/09/1994 – 6’3″ 203

Common threads: “Pretty well-rounded player who doesn’t have a clear weakness” “cut from the mold of a classic centre” “can create offence in multiple ways, with his playmaking, his shot and his willingness to engage” “plays very well in defensive situations” “very good dependability in the defensive zone” “can kill penalties effectively”

What I like: Big, tough minutes centreman with the potential to be a complete player. My take is that he is quite NHL-ready, since you can slot him into a depth slot without having to worry about whether you’re misuing his talent.

What I don’t like: A lower ceiling for sure, and doesn’t display offensive flair just yet. Strikes me as more of a “safe” pick than a “home run” pick.

#6 – Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

05/16/1994 – 6’3″ 200

Common threads: “Because of his size and wing span, he is extremely effective defensively” “can control the flow of a hockey game seemingly at will” “combination of tools that allow him to make unique plays” “unique blend of skill and size” “a very good passer who makes plays on the move” “above-average finisher” “advanced two-way thinker”

What I like: If he comes as advertised, he’s an NHL-ready two-way forward who can step in and contribute immediately on either the first or third lines. You don’t want to necessarily draft for need, but the Leafs could really use a top-line ‘C’ right now.

What I don’t like: Andrey goes over the concerns in a lot of detail here. Perceived as a guy who dogs it and isn’t too interesting in winning. These are recent developments in North America but have been presumed in Russia for a longer time. He’s a bit of a wild card and if Brian Burke decides to choose him, I hope he’s done all his homework in regards to the “age” question and the commitment issue. 


For more on the study between junior hockey players and age, try these two links.

The Leafs Nation will be represented at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh this weekend. Follow our coverage at this blog, or Nations writers Kent WilsonThomas Drance or myself on Twitter for the lastest.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.