2012 NHL Playoff Pool: Who Should Be the 1st Overall Pick

Brian LangenContributor IApril 8, 2012

2012 NHL Playoff Pool: Who Should Be the 1st Overall Pick

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    Now that the Vancouver Canucks have clinched the President’s Trophy and the rankings have been set, it’s time to decide who will clinch that prestigious first overall pick in your hockey pool. 

    Last year, it was most likely Daniel or Henrik Sedin, the year before that it was Alex Ovechkin and the year before that it was most definitely Sidney Crosby

    But this year, who really knows what to do... 

    If you end up the unfortunate soul with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, you might as well write down five or six names, throw them into a hat and take your pick.  But since there are three days before the playoffs start and there are no games to watch, let’s take some time and breakdown who you should take first overall.

5. Henrik Sedin

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    Why he should go No. 1

    Henrik Sedin is the best player on the President’s Trophy winning team.  He hasn’t been as dominant this year as he was in previous years, but if history repeats itself from last year’s playoffs, 22 points in 25 games isn’t a bad addition to your team.


    Why he shouldn’t go No. 1

    There are two main reasons why you should pass over Sedin with your first overall pick.  First of all, there is uncertainty surrounding his other (and arguably better) half who hasn’t played since March 21st due to a concussion. How effective Sedin can be in the playoffs without his brother is still to be determined. 

    Now, even if Daniel Sedin comes back and doesn’t miss a beat, the Canucks’ road to the Stanley Cup isn’t an easy one.  If the Canucks are to make it to the final again, they’ll likely have to play two, if not three teams, where goals aren’t easy to come by.  Los Angeles, Nashville and St. Louis were among the top teams in the NHL in goals allowed (second, eighth and first, respectively).  Not exactly the matchup you want for your first overall pick.

     

    Where he’ll end up

    Despite the matchup problems, Henrik will likely be drafted in the top five.

4. Ilya Kovalchuk

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    Why he should go No. 1

    Even though the Devils are the sixth seed, they arguably have the easiest first-round matchup out of any team.  Florida has struggled as of late and have the least amount of wins out of any other playoff team.  Kovalchuk is a dynamic point-a-game player who averaged 24:26 minutes of ice per game, the highest for any forward in the league.  Oh yeah, playing with players like Parise, Elias, and Zajac doesn’t hurt his stock either.

     

    Why he shouldn’t go No. 1

    Here’s the dilemma with Kovalchuk: his first round matchup is very favourable, but his matchups after that, not so favourable.  As a sixth seed, the Devils will likely play New York or Boston in the second round, which just happens to include Henrik Lundqvist and Tim Thomas.  New Jersey has the talent to make it to the conference finals, but as a sixth seed they will be playing top teams the whole way.  You usually don’t want your first overall pick to be an underdog, but Kovalchuk’s skill is difficult to pass up.

     

    Where he’ll end up

    I don’t think Kovalchuk will end up being first overall, but like Henrik Sedin, look for him to go in the top five.

3. Tyler Seguin

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    Why he should go No. 1

    Seguin is the best player on the defending Stanley Cup champions team.  He’s the Bruins leading scorer and keeps getting better and better.  With a first round matchup against Washington and their third-string goalie Braden Holtby, it could be a high scoring first round series for Boston.  Plus, with minimal changes to the Bruins cup-winning roster, it’s hard to bet against them in defending their championship.

     

    Why he shouldn’t go No. 1

    With only 67 points in 81 games, Seguin hasn’t shown the same regular season firepower as other potential first overall picks.  Not to mention with Boston’s depth, Seguin only averages 16:56 minutes per game.

     

    Where he’ll end up

    David Krejci led the league in playoff scoring last year and put up similar regular season numbers as Seguin this year.  So to take Seguin in the top three isn't completely ridiculous.  He’s the highest scorer on a Stanley Cup favourite, which is exactly what you look for in your first overall pick.

2. Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin

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    Why he should go No. 1

    Sidney Crosby: 37 points in 22 games.  Evgeni Malkin: 109 points in 75 games and the runaway Art Ross Trophy winner.  I don’t think anything more needs to be said.

     

    Why he shouldn’t go No. 1

    Pittsburgh will find themselves in an absolute bloodbath with Philadelphia in the first round.  The Flyers are 4-2 this year against the Penguins and the chances of Crosby or Malkin coming out of the first round isn’t exactly a sure bet.  Even if they don’t make it out of the first round, they’ll still probably score 10 or 11 points in six or seven games, but you’re going to want more out of your first overall pick in order to win your pool.

     

    Where he’ll end up

    The risk-reward payoff for Crosby or Malkin will put one of them in the top three, but because of this, the other one will fall lower to sixth or seventh overall.  I'd take Crosby before Malkin, but really, you can't go wrong with either.

1. Marian Gaborik

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    Why he should go No. 1

    Gaborik has put up 41 goals and 76 points in 82 games for the Rangers this year.  He’s played in all 82 games for the first time in his career, and his injury troubles look to be a thing of the past. 

    The Rangers have one of the easier first round matchups against the slumping and surprising Senators, not to mention home ice-advantage throughout the playoffs in an easier Eastern Conference.  Gaborik is hands down the least risky first overall pick, as he’s essentially a slam-dunk to play 12+ games and in all likelihood able to play 18+ games, making him an excellent contributor to your team.

     

    Why he shouldn’t go No. 1

    The only reason Gaborik shouldn’t go first overall is if you firmly believe that the Senators will upset the Rangers, or that the Penguins are a guarantee to beat the Flyers.  If either of these are true, then go ahead and take Crosby or Malkin, but be prepared to have a minor heart attack during every Penguins vs. Flyers game.

     

    Where he’ll end up

    Gaborik will likely end up as a top two pick, as he’s an elite scorer on a Stanley Cup favourite.  But if you are the unlucky soul who has to decide who goes first overall, then Gaborik should be your man.  And if not, then you might as well grab that hat and leave it up to the luck of the draw.