Early-season risers and fallers

Updated: November 15, 2011, 12:09 PM ET
By Grant Sonier

The NHL's Central Scouting Service will soon release its first rankings for the 2012 draft class. It's shaping up to be an interesting draft, and here at Insider we have opinions of our own. So as you examine the CSS rankings, consider also what we're hearing from NHL talent evaluators and what I've seen while personally scouting these prospects. With that prelude, here's our inaugural stock watch for some of the top prospects in June's entry draft.

Nail Yakupov, LW, Sarnia Sting, OHL
Entering the season Yakupov was considered hands down the No. 1 prospect in next year's draft, and the way he is performing, he should remain at the top. The 5-foot-11 winger continues to dominate on the score sheet and is at or near the top of the scoring leaders with 35 points (12 goals and 23 assists) in 19 games played. His dynamic mobility and quick hands, in addition to his hockey sense, make him a special player.

If the draft was held today and the lottery didn't change order, the Columbus Blue Jackets would have the first pick. I think Columbus would take Yakupov, but it would be an interesting choice seeing as how Nikolai Zherdev (fourth overall, 2003) and Nikita Filatov (sixth overall, 2008) did not exactly workout for the Blue Jackets. While Yakupov's passport might weigh into the equation, he will almost certainly rate out as the best player available.

Stock watch: Rising