With the Stanley Cup final wrapping up last Monday, hockey fans were forced to endure over one full week without any major NHL news. Luckily, our long collective nightmare is now over: The NHL draft starts on Friday night, and we can spend the rest of the week speculating about which young players will wind up where.
Of course, NHL scouting departments have been preparing for this weekend for months. They've compiled detailed reports on each player available and can recite their strengths and weaknesses with ease. But the casual fan may only be getting caught up on the top prospect now, which doesn't leave much time to cram before things get started on Friday.
Here's a look at some of the names that fans can expect to hear called early in the 2012 NHL draft.
Nail Yakupov - The consensus top pick has recently added a previously unseen physical aspect to his game, according to all those holes he punched in his wall after watching the Oilers win the draft lottery.
Alex Galchenyuk - Impressed scouts at the combine by showing off his surgically repaired left knee, although some admit they'd have felt even better if it hadn't been inside a jar with holes poked in the lid.
Ryan Murray - The young blueliner has been described as a perfect fit for the New York Islanders, so apparently he's really good at turning to the referee and saying "I think our goalie's bones just exploded".
Filip Forsberg - Is often incorrectly assumed to be related to former NHL star Peter Forsberg, which is understandable since he's Swedish, an excellent two-way center, and retired from hockey four separate times last season.
Morgan Rielly - His skating skill has consistently been described as being off the charts, proving once and for all that NHL teams should really think about investing in some larger charts.
Mikhail Grigorenko - Is among the draft's most talented players but has seen his stock fall due to lingering questions about his work ethic, which is concerning because teenagers are normally so strong in that area.
Teuvo Teravainen - Has several head scouts pushing hard for their teams to select him in the first round, since a careful review of all available prospects reveals that his name would be the most fun to say into a microphone in front of thousands of people.
Radek Faksa - Experts have cautioned that it's unrealistic to expect him to be ready to step in a play in the NHL right away, since the season doesn't start for several months.
Griffin Reinhart - If the name sounds familiar it's because he was one of the best all-around defensemen in WHL last season and/or it's what you call your chaotic-neutral paladin character in Dungeons & Dragons.
Mathew Dumba - Has a reputation for delivering crushing open-ice body checks, which should make him extra valuable during the next few years when those are still legal.
Zemgus Girgensons - While scouts' opinions aren't unanimous, is still generally considered to be one of the three or four best Zemguses available in this year's draft.
Stefan Matteau - Is the son of former NHL player Stephane Matteau, who apparently decided to give him the same first name but spelled it differently and we're all just supposed to be OK with this.
Olli Maatta - Has been the subject of intense trade speculation, as rumors swirl that he may be willing to pull the trigger on the long-rumored deal to send one of his extra vowels to Martin Frk.
Henrik Samuelsson - Has been following in the footsteps of his father Ulf, which is tricky since it involves a lot of stepping over hockey players who are rolling around in agony while clutching their knees.
Malcolm Subban - The consensus top goaltender in the draft would be an ideal pick for the Maple Leafs, since from a young age he's had extensive experience dealing with an incredibly aggravating PK.