Prague gets 3 young stars today

Prague, with three of the seven picks between numbers 13 and 19, started the barrage with the most recognizable name available in the draft. Nail Yakupov, the Russian sensation who went first overall in the 2012 NHL draft, is now a right winger for the Southern Conference power that finished sixth overall in Season 1. Prague doesn’t have many young players on the roster currently, but one of them – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – will feel more secure with Yakupov on his right side long-term. With their second pick, the Czech team stayed on the right wing and picked Czech Martin Ruzicka, a 21-year-old with a deadly shot. With pick 19, they went with 19-year-old goalie Niko Hovinen, who will one day inherit Ryan Miller’s job.

Alexander Galchenyuk, who went two picks after Yakupov in the NHL draft, went right after Yakupov today, being scooped up by Minsk, the city in which his parents were born. Galchenyuk, who is actually an American, has three Swedish centermen ahead of him on the depth chart including Niclas Backstrom, Patrik Berglund and Jacob Josefson.

Stockholm went with homegrown Mattias Sjogren, a 19-year-old left wing with good speed and strong defensive tendencies. Sjogren is one of a handful of young forwards in Stockholm and is like to grow up there with Kyle Okposo, Craig Smith and Jordan Caron as his linemates from time to time.

Bratislava used the 16th pick to fill a lineup hole at center. Milan Gulas, 24, is a fast defensive specialist with good leadership skills who will immediately take the place of Jason Arnott, the veteran who the Eagles do not expect to resign this off season.

Paris, with pick 18, selected Ossi Vaananen. The former NHLer becomes Les Rouges Eiffels’ 13th defensemen, albeit only 9 are under contract right now. Vaananen, a solid two-way player, will definitely step into a regular role this season, probably on the team’s second pairing.


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