Prospects and Suspects
KELOWNA--Nail Yakupov didn't show, and in the end, it probably doesn't matter.
Mikhail Grigorenko did show, but not really, and that probably won't matter either when it comes to the 2012 NHL entry draft.
But there were those who participated in the 2012 NHL/CHL Top Prospects game on Wednesday night who might have helped their cause just a wee bit, given that one game shouldn't make up any scout's mind.
Who were they? Well, you could include:
--Portland Winterhawks D Derrick Pouliot. Others may have garnered player-of-the-game awards, but Pouliot was brilliant and easily the best player in the game. In a draft year loaded with blueline talent, Pouliot surely made a statement that will make those drafting in the top five in June wonder whether he's the best of the lot.
--Plymouth winger Tom Wilson. He's no Nureyev with the puck. But he's big, he hits, he can fight and did all of those things on Wednesday. In other words, the 6-foot-4 Toronto native came to compete and to do what he does, and did that well.
--Sault Ste. Marie goalie Matthew Murray. Murray has to fight for playing time behind U.S. junior star Jack Campbell, who joined the Greyhounds via trade this year. But Murray relieved Victoriaville's Brandon Whitney at the halfway mark and threw up a wall, although he was victimized on the winning goal. The prospects game often allows draft eligible players to showcase themselves more than is possible with their club team, and Murray did just that.
--Seattle Thunderbirds winger Brandon Troock. He scored the winning goal with 24 seconds left to play and is a remarkable comeback story. He missed all of last season with concussion symptoms until - ripples of the Sidney Crosby story - he was diagnosed with a different neck-related problem that was ultimately improved through treatment.
He's 6-foot-3 with wheels, and may find himself shooting up the NHL rankings after going into the top prospects game rated No. 90 among North American skaters.