The 2012 NHL draft is months away, but it's never too early to predict where the future stars of the league will play.
Naturally, the NHL draft doesn't draw the hype or crowd like the NFL or MLB, but it's still a fun event because it lets you know the direction a team is headed towards in the future.
The order is completely set because we still have the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs to get through, but that's not a huge worry right now.
With that said, here's my 2012 NHL mock draft with info on each pick and a more in-depth look on the biggest future stars up for grabs.
2012 NHL Mock Draft
1. Edmonton Oilers - Nail Yakupov, F, Sarnia
For the third straight year, the Oilers hold the top pick in the draft.
Yakupov is going to be an elite of the NHL, so Edmonton should waste no time with their selection. Of course, the Oilers may listen to trade offers, but I think they'll stay put and boost their lineup with Yakupov.
He's a phenomenal hockey player with the ability to score with ease and thrive at the wing position. The recent No. 1 picks are all strong players and are off to great success, and Yakupov will be no different.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets - Mikhail Grigorenko, F, Quebec
The Blue Jackets had a very rough season, but they feel good about their future partly thanks to the No. 2 overall pick.
With this pick, the Blue Jackets would be wise to select the strong stud and future star in Grigorenko. At 6'3" and 200 lbs, Grigorenko has the tools to succeed on the big stage.
Look for the Blue Jackets to pick up a talented forward after they traded Jeff Carter this past year. Grigorenko would be a sensational fit.
3. Montreal Canadians - Alex Galchenyuk, F, Sarnia
Montreal needs more help in the scoring department, and Galchenyuk is a guy that can make a major impact.
He's a playmaker, and that's exactly what the Canadians are in dire need of. Galchenyuk will step in and provide a great spark to this team.
It won't be easy getting back to the top of the hockey world, but getting Galchenyuk to provide the team with more points is a step in the right direction.
4. New York Islanders - Ryan Murray, D, Everett
The Islanders have the offensive talent to make things happen, but getting an upgrade on defense with Murray will be huge moving for them moving forward.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs - Filip Forsberg, F, Leksands
The Leafs are struggling, but the future isn't all that bleak, especially if they land the talented Forsberg.
6. Anaheim Ducks - Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer
Dumba needs some work, but his potential to thrive in the league is sky high. The Ducks won't pass up on that.
7. Minnesota Wild - Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw
There are some durability concerns about Rielly, but there's no denying his great skills on the ice, which is why the Wild will pick him.
8. Carolina Hurricanes - Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton
The run of defenders continues, as the Hurricanes wisely lock up Reinhart to add great depth to their roster.
9. Winnipeg Jets - Radek Faksa, F, Kitchener
Faksa is a versatile forward that can play the left or right wing as well the center position. The Jets need big improvement, and they'll certainly get stellar play from the superbly skilled Faksa.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning - Jacob Trouba, D, USA U-18
Fixing the defense is the main focus for the Lightning here, and Trouba will be a solid addition.
11. Washington Capitals (via COL) - Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa
Ceci is the obvious choice here as defenders continue to be a hot item in the draft. The Capitals thrive on offense but are prone to big defensive mistakes, so they could use a beast like Ceci.
12. Buffalo Sabres - Teuvo Teravainen, F, Jokerit
Teravainen is a huge threat in this draft, as his skills translate very well to the NHL, which the Sabres will absolutely love.
13. Dallas Stars - Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland
Surprise, surprise—another defender off the board. Pouilot will provide great help to the Stars, a team with a big need on D.
14. Calgary Flames - Brendan Gaunce, F, Belleville
The Flames are an aging team, so stockpiling youth is very important this year. Getting Gaunce is a good start to rebuilding and getting younger stars.
15. Ottawa Senators - Matt Finn, D, Guelph
The Senators are an OK team that just needs better depth, and adding Finn to the mix will give them just that on defense.
16. Washington Capitals - Sebastian Collberg, F, Frolunda HC
With their second pick in the first round, the Capitals would be wise to go with Collberg to stockpile more depth on offense.
17. Florida Panthers - Zemgus Girgensons, F, Dubuque
The Panthers had a solid turnaround this year, and they'll continue to move in the right direction by adding Girgensons.
18. San Jose Sharks - Ludvig Bystrom, D, Modo
The Sharks have had several ups and downs as of late, but they're loaded with talent. This pick is purely for depth purposes, so getting a strong defender like Bystrom would be great.
19. Phoenix Coyotes - Pontus Aberg, F, Djurgardens
The Coyotes could use a player like Aberg. He has the ability to develop into a star player, but he'll need some work to get there.
20. Philadelphia Flyers - Olli Maatta, D, London
The Flyers have aging defensemen in Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen, so Maatta is the smart pick here for the future.
21. Buffalo Sabres (via NAS) - Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough
The defenders keep coming, as the Sabres wisely draft Koekkoek to load up on depth for the future.
22. Vancouver Canucks - Tomas Hertl, F, Slavia
The Canucks are loaded with talent on their roster, so they can afford to just grab the best available player here, which is Hertl.
23. Tampa Bay Lightning (via DET) - Malcolm Subban, G, Belleville
With Dwayne Roloson getting older and Mathieu Garon not being a legitimate starter, the Lightning need a goalie for the future. Subban is their man should he still be on the board.
24. Boston Bruins - Tom Wilson, F, Plymouth
The Bruins could go a number of different ways here, but grabbing the skilled stud in Wilson is the smart pick.
25. St. Louis Blues - Stefan Matteau, F, USNTDP
The Blues were remarkable this year, showing that great team play can work wonders, which is why they'll take an honest guy like Matteau.
26. New Jersey Devils - Brady Skjei, D, USA U-18
The Devils are surprisingly better on offense right now, but things could quickly change, especially if they land Skjei.
27. Chicago Blackhawks - Michael Matheson, D, Dubuque
It can never hurt to have too much depth on defense, which is why the Blackhawks won't pass on Matheson, the best available guy here at No. 27.
28. Pittsburgh Penguins - Colton Sissons, F, Kelowna
Insurance at the forward position is very crucial for the Penguins. Landing Sissons will be a great addition to the team.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (via L.A.) - Andrei Vasilevski, G, Ufa
The Blue Jackets are at it again, looking to stack the team with the best possible talent. Adding a goalie to their already great set first-round picks is the right call.
30. New York Rangers - Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle
The Rangers are pretty loaded, so this draft pick is all about depth for the future. Lindholm is the best available this late in the first round, so the Rangers do the right thing and pick him.
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