The 2012 NHL Draft was an interesting one for Russia as the first overall pick, for the first time since Alexander Ovechkin's name was called in 2004, was a Russian player, with Nail Yakupov receiving the honor as the choice of the Edmonton Oilers.
In the early going of the 2011-12 season, center Mikhail Grigorenko was considered by some to be the top prospect available for the 2012 NHL Draft. By season's end, however, the talented Russian was dropping in the rankings, finally being chosen with the 12th selection overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft class doesn't seem to be a particularly big one for Russia, especially when considering that the top players, Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov, left the Mother Land to play in the Canadian junior system. In the last few years more and more players have decided to cross the pond earlier, and even if it didn't pay off in all cases, the CHL is now becoming a good alternative for Russian players who opt for an early transition to North American hockey.
Plenty of St. Louis prospects made noise during their team's respective postseason runs with several bringing home league championships. Two prospects were integral to Saint John's run toward their second consecutive QMJHL Championship while a third Quebec League prospect came out on top at the Memorial Cup. The Blues were also represented on the Swedish Elite League champion Brynas team. Several other prospects ranked among their league's top scorers during the playoffs despite falling short of the championship.
Drafted first overall by Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the 2011 KHL junior draft, forward Anton Slepyshev has established himself this season as one of the top Russian-trained skaters eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft.