While Nail Yakupov's No. 1 status on Craig Button's monthly TSN.ca draft ranking is hardly a surprise, two other high-profile prospects remain near the top despite the fact that they likely won't play again this season.
Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Morgan Reilly, who's expected to miss the rest of the 2011-12 WHL campaign with an ACL injury, moved up one spot to fourth on 'Craig's List,' while Sarnia Sting centre Alex Galchenyuk - out for the season after having knee surgery last month - dropped just one spot to fifth from October's ranking.
And as TSN's hockey scout explains, both players not playing doesn't mean their stock is going to drop dramatically through next June. "These two are top prospects," says Button. "Obviously the evaluation goes to the medical reports, but I would be real surprised if they drop out of the Top 10."
While that's a strong statement from Button, one doesn't have to look far back to remember when a player was taken high despite suffering a serious injury. "Brett Connolly had a hip injury in his draft year and he went sixth overall (in 2010)," he recalled.
Rielly, one of several draft eligible WHL defencemen in the Top 12, injured his knee last Sunday. In 17 games with the Warriors this season, he posted three goals and 15 assists. Galchenyuk, who did not appear in a regular season game this year, scored 31 goals and 83 points in 68 games last season, finishing third in OHL rookie goal scoring and tying teammate Yakupov in assists.
On notable riser since Craig's last ranking is centre Zemgus Girgensons of the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints, who moved up four notches into the Top 10 at No. 7. With eight goals and 17 points in 12 games this season, he could be the highest drafted Latvian-born player since the Phoenix Coyotes took Viktor Tikhonov 28th overall in 2008.
"When you look the centres available, this is a player who plays a hard, determined game and has the skills to match," says Button.
The only other player to move up this month is Brynas netminder Oscar Dansk, who shifted five spots from No. 28 to No. 23. Dansk is the top-ranked goalie on the list, 11 spots ahead of Belleville's Malcolm Subban.
The Top 3 saw no movement from last month. With 13 goals and 38 points in just 20 games, Yakupov tops the list followed by Leksands winger Filip Forsberg and Red Deer defenceman Mathew Dumba.
Click here at (http://www.tsn.ca/craigslist) for the rest of the Top 30 and join Craig on Thursday on TSN.ca at Noon et/9am pt for a live chat regarding his rankings.
TSN Scout Craig Button joins TSN and TSN.ca as part of its expanding DraftCentre coverage. Craig started in the NHL as a scout with the Minnesota North Stars and stayed with the organization through the move to Dallas. He later became Director of Player Personnel, helping lead the Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999. From 2000 to 2003, Craig served as Vice President and General Manager of the Calgary Flames and later joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as a scout.