Draft week begins

Start the countdown.
Four more sleeps before Friday.
And then, after we all wake up, about 12 hours until the Canadiens make a draft choice that culd jump-start the franchise.

There are no Sidney Crosby available in the 2012 junior crop, no players guaranteed to become superstars.

But there are promising prospects; and the Canadiens, picking third overall, should be able to grab  a very-good-with-gusts-to-great player.

Pat Hickey has been assesing the top prospects in The Gazette this week.

Here are Pat’s takes on:

• Consensus top prospect Nail Yakupov, who probably won’t be there at 3.

Ryan Murray, the top defence prospect … and a longshot to be picked by the Canadiens, even if he’s available. General manager Marc Bergevin says he’ll draft the best player available, but the Canadiens have gone D for two straight drafts, with Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu.

Filip Forsberg, widely touted as the safest pick in the draft … but not the most spectacular.

At HIO, we’ve been touting the virtues of Alex Galchenyuk, whom we see as the Canadiens’ chance to hit a home run with the third pick.

TSN, which will telecast the first round of the draft live from Pittsburgh, beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, has Forsberg third in its final rankings.

Bob McKenzie, who knows his stuff, describes Forsberg as “a big strong guy with a tremendous shot, a love of phsyical play and capable of playing the hard, pro-style grinding game.”

That’s great, but the Canadiens need the next Anze Kopitar, not an upgrade on Travis Moen.

Their perennial quest for a big centre could motivate the Canadiens to draft Mikhail Grigorenko, who certainly will be available at 3 because the Quebec Remparts star has sunk like a stone on many draft boards.

The kid is huge and highly-skilled. But there are concerns about Grigorenko’s compete level and the possibility he’ll end up at home, playing in the KHL.

The last great Russian playing for Patrick Roy in Quebec City was Alexander Radulov. ‘Nuff said.

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