Injuries to key players in the NHL has been a major theme this season, and it's one that seems to be trickling down to the NHL draft as well. A number of top prospects for June's NHL entry draft are also watching from the press box all of a sudden.
As we discussed last week, Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov, the projected No. 1 selection, was injured at the World Junior Championships playing for Russia and is expected to be out four to six weeks. His teammate Alex Galchenyuk was already sitting out and is expected to miss the entire season following knee surgery. Other notable potential first-round picks on the shelf with injuries are D Morgan Reilly (Moose Jaw, WHL), LW Pontus Aberg (Djurgardens, SEL) and D Slater Koekkoek (Peterborough, OHL).
But there are still plenty of prospects who aren't laid up right now. After looking at the draft-eligibles in action at the World Juniors, I stayed on the road for some additional scouting in the WHL. Here's a look at some of the top prospects I saw during those games, as well as other draft-eligible players who didn't make the cut for World Juniors.
D Mathew Dumba, 5-foot-11, 175 pounds
Red Deer, WHL
With shades of Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings), this dynamic, right-shot offensive D-man continues to catch everyone's eye. Some scouts, citing the fear of Nail Yakupov's Russian passport, believe Dumba could push to go first overall. Having just watched both play, I think not; but there is a lot to like about this undersized, competitive prospect. With his NHL-caliber shot from the point and the ability to join the rush, many teams will be attracted to this mature, hard-hitting rear guard.
Stock Watch: Rising. Top-10 pick.
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