2012 NHL Mock Draft
Well, it is almost that time where NHL teams look to the future and who will become their next star player.
However, there is some controversy this time around. Will Edmonton trade their No. 1 pick to get a defenseman deep in this draft or keep the No. 1 overall pick and draft Nail Yakupov?
And where does your team hang, and who might be available when your team steps up to the podium? Here is my opinion of who might be around when your team drafts.
1. Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers)
Phenom, Nail Yakupov is coming to Oil Town. Yakupov is a forward who has great skating ability and uncanny offensive instincts. He never quits on a play and is not afraid to throw the body.
Depth should not be a problem in the coming years, with Yakupov, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Paajarvi and Gagner. I predict he goes first overall and will possibly join Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the first line as a trio of the past three first overall picks.
Comparison: Pavel Bure
2. Alex Galchenyuk (Columbus Blue Jackets)
I predict, Alex Galchenyuk goes second overall, as the Blue Jackets stay away from the "Russian factor". Although he is US born, he was raised in Russia. He has also spent two years in Major Junior while being accompanied with Yakapov, which hasn't hurt his cause, who is also from Russia. I believe, his potential is also not fully seen as he was injured for most of the season with a torn ACL.
Scouts say, he has a better stick and better vision than Yakupov which will bode well for the Blue Jackets, especially if they lose Rick Nash in the summer. Galchenyuk has a big frame, standing at 6'2", but needs to fill out his frame first. He could help Ryan Johansen's development with his great vision.
Comparison: Alexei Yashin
3. Mikhail Grigorenko (Montreal Canadiens)
Mikhail Grigorenko is a perfect fit for the Canadiens who lack size and a potential first-line center. Grigorenko has great vision and is able to put the puck in the net at ease. He also uses his body well to fend off defenders, similiar to superstar Evgeni Malkin.
The Russian forward has the ability to dominate but needs to bring his game on a regular basis. Grigorenko should bring a different dynamic to the team with his size and is learning French while playing for the Quebec Remparts.
Comparison: Evgeni Malkin
4. Matt Dumba (New York Islanders)
The surprise pick of the draft is Matt Dumba, who goes in the fourth overall position. The only reason he beats out Ryan Murray is because Dumba can become a game-changer, with a solid shot from the point on the power play, solid clean hits and skating ability.
Dumba will be a welcome addition on Long Island, as they lack offensive flare on the back-end.
Comparison: Dion Phaneuf
5. Radek Faksa (Toronto Maple Leafs)
The biggest riser in the draft, Radek Faksa is taken in the fifth overall position. Similar to Jonathan Huberdeau last year, Faksa came out of nowhere.
However, Faksa transitioned well to Major Junior Hockey with the Kitchener Rangers and looked dangerous every time he stepped on the ice. The 6'3" big body center also uses his big frame to his advantage blowing by defenders with his strength.
Comparison: Milan Hejduk
6. Ryan Murray (Anahiem Ducks)
If Ryan Murray falls this far in the draft, the Ducks could run away with the steal of the draft. It has been known to happen before. Cam Fowler was projected to be in the Top Five in 2010, but the Ducks took him 12th overall.
The Ducks need another defenseman patrolling the blue line, and Murray would pair well with Cam Fowler. Ironically similarities to Scott Niedermayer are what comes to mind, and if paired with Cam Fowler, Murray could stay on defense while Fowler jumps on the rush.
Flashback: Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger when they won the Cup in 2007.
Comparison: Scott Niedermayer
7. Morgan Rielly (Minnesota Wild)
Morgan Rielly definitely has some wheels. Sometimes, this defender looks like a forward rushing up the ice. His greatest asset, is his great skating ability, which enables him to rush the puck into the offensive zone.
He would be a great fit, if he is picked by the Wild, considering they lost Brent Burns in the offseason. He needs to work on his defensive game, considering Minnesota is generally a trap team.
Comparison: Duncan Keith
8. Filip Forsberg (Carolina Hurricanes)
Filip Forsberg is one of the top European prospects for the 2012 NHL draft. Forsberg, (no relation to Peter Forsberg) has great offensive instincts and has a great shot which makes him deadly along his excellent skating.
Forsberg has a big frame, but he needs to fill it out in order to get to the NHL. Some scouts say, he is ready for the NHL as soon as he puts on more weight. He has great long strides in his skating, which makes it difficult to control him of the rush.
Comparison: Markus Naslund
9. Brendan Gaunce (Winnipeg Jets)
Brendan Gaunce (the younger brother of Cameron Gaunce) is widely considered the best two-way forward in the draft. Gaunce, already has NHL size standing at 6'2" and weighs almost 200 lbs, which makes scouts think he should be a great prospect in the coming years.
He plays in all three zones and is a 200 ft. player. He is also a gritty, feisty player who never gives up on a play. Gaunce has good offensive potential and is great in the face-off circle.
Comparison: David Backes
10. Griffin Reinhart (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Griffin Reinhart was a man amongst boys in regards to his size and strength while playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings. The son of former NHL player Paul Reinhart, Griffin has been a rock for a team who's strong with talent.
The hulking defenseman stands at 6'4" and is a stay-at-home defenseman that all teams crave. His offensive potential is average, but he could develop a better shot from the point to give him another element to his arsenal.
Comparison: Robyn Regehr
11. Olli Maatta (Washington Capitals)
One of my favorite players in the draft is Olli Maatta. I predict that Maatta will fall in to the Washington Capitals lap (familiar with Dale Hunter). He is one of the smartest defenseman in regards to defense. He doesn't throw the body around, but uses his stick to break up rushes, and is always in position.
Maatta has good offensive upside. Scouts say, he never makes a mistake and never looks out of place. Maatta also transitioned well from European hockey to Major Junior with the powerhouse London Knights.
Comparison: Kimmo Timonen
12. Cody Ceci (Buffalo Sabres)
Cody Ceci is the complete package on the back-end. Ceci, possesses a great shot from the the point and can run the point on the power play. Ceci has a big frame and uses his strength and size to defend against his opponents.
His only weakness is he needs to work on his skating, but that should come in time. Ceci has the potential to be a top 10 pick in June.
Comparison: Brent Seabrook
13. Jacob Trouba (Dallas Stars)
Jacob Trouba is considered to be a sure-fire Top 10 pick in this coming draft. His ability to shutdown forwards and good skating ability is what makes him a safe pick. He has a good shot but is more defensive-minded. He will need another year in the US Development program, or come to Kitchener Ranger (they own his OHL rights) to take that next step in his development.
Comparison: Jack Johnson
14. Zemgus Girgensons (Calgary Flames)
The Calgary Flames finally get a potential No. 1 center in Zemgus Girgensons. A native of Latvia, Girgensons made the transition to USHL and has become a great two-way forward who plays in all three zones. The Latvian prospect, is not afraid to throw the body around and is great in the faceoff circle.
Girgensons is considered the complete package.
Comparison: Anze Kopitar
15. Teuvo Teravainen (Ottawa Senators)
Teuvo Teravainen is a little wrecking ball with wheels. The Senators pick him because Bryan Murray has never shied away from players with skill like Teravainen.
Despite standing at 5'10" and weighing at approximately 160 Ibs, Teravainen is able to use his blazing speed and great stick-handling to maneuver past defenders. Some scouts even say, Teravainen, in regards to skill, exceeds the likes of top prospect Nail Yakupov.
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
16. Matt Finn (Washington Capitals)
Matt Finn is one of the most offensively creative defenseman in the 2012 draft. Currently playing for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, Finn has exceptional skating ability, great offensive awareness and a good shot.
He is also not afraid to join the rush or even lead the rush. He could work on his defensive game because is sometimes caught pinching offensively. Finn, should be an exciting player to watch before long but will be a couple years away from the NHL.
Comparison: P.K. Subban
17. Slater Koekkoek (San Jose Sharks)
A big and strong offensive defenseman is what Slater Koekkoek is and is exactly what the San Jose Sharks need. With big names upfront, and offensive defensemen like Brent Burns and Dan Boyle (getting older), Koekkoek will be a great addition to a team with so much offensive talent.
Koekkoek has a great shot and has the appropriate awareness to when he can join the rush. He has great poise as seen in the Under-18 World Championship and will be a great defender as he develops.
Comparison: Brent Burns
18. Andrei Vasilevski (Chicago Blackhawks)
One of the best goaltending prospects in the NHL draft is Andrei Vasilevski. Vasilevski has cat-like reflexes and is a great competitor, as shown in the World Juniors. He is always focused, reads the play well and has great anticipation.
Considering the Blackhawks need a No. 1 goaltender for the future, I'm sure Vasilevski fits the bill well.
Comparison: Simeon Varlamov
19. Malcolm Subban (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Steady, calm and just plainly stops the puck, Malcolm Subban (the younger brother of PK Subban) is one the top North American goalie prospects in this upcoming draft.
Playing on an average Belleville Bulls team, Subban put up stellar numbers including save percentage and goals against average. Has the poise of a veteran some scouts say and should be a dandy when he reaches the pros.
Comparison: Carey Price
20. Colton Sissons (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Colton Sissons is a great prospect for the NHL draft. Sissons does everything. A transitioned winger, Sissons has a good shot, is working on his faceoffs and best of all, he is a tremendous leader in the dressing room and on the the ice. Sissons is not afraid to stick up for teammates and is dangerous and relentless on the forecheck and backcheck.
What is not to like? In my opinion, Sisson is the complete package.
Comparison: Mike Richards
21. Derrick Pouliot (Buffalo Sabres)
This guy does it all on the back-end for Portland Winterhawks. Pouliot has great offensive vision and plays the point on the power play extremely well.
Usually paired with smooth skating Penguins prospect Joe Morrow, Derrick Pouliot was a force for the Winterhawks who almost made it to the Memorial Cup (defeated by the Edmonton Oil Kings) in the final. Scouts love that along with his offensive prowess, he's never willing to back down and not afraid to drop the gloves.
Comparison: Brian Campbell
22. Tom Wilson (Philedalphia Flyers)
This guy is big, strong, tough and mean. Tom Wilson is one of those players you do not want to go into the corner boards with. Wilson uses his body and has great potential. Wilson has the ability to put up numbers when it counts (especially in the playoffs) when he produced at a point-per-game pace.
While he didn't put up crazy numbers in the regular season because he was playing on a deep Plymouth Whalers, he will be counted on to put up more numbers next year as he steps up to a more crucial offensive role on the team.
Comparison: Milan Lucic
23. Pontus Aberg (Florida Panthers)
The Florida Panthers have never been afraid to take European players in the draft, and Pontus Aberg should be a great fit for the team. Aberg has speed to burn and has a great wrist shot and slap shot, which means trouble for defensemen.
What scouts love, is that Aberg always brings a high effort every shift. Aberg will probably stay overseas for a year and then make the jump to the NHL/AHL.
Comparison: Henrik Zetterberg
24. Brady Skjei (Boston Bruins)
Brady Skjei is a superb offensive defenseman. He has great vision, can run the power play and has a great shot. He needs to put on some more muscle and could work on his defensive game.
I predict that Skjei will need another year in Minnesota and maybe one year in the AHL before making the jump to the show. He'll be a good addition should the Boston Bruins need a offensive threat from the back end two to three years from now.
Comparison: Brian Rafalski
25. Tomas Hertl (St. Louis Blues)
Tomas Hertl sure caught scouts eyes when it mattered most. Mostly considered a second-round pick for most of the year, Hertl moved his way up scouts list with a stellar performance at the World Juniors where he was one of the main catalysts for the Czech team and thrived in the spotlight.
Not afraid to go in to the dirty areas to retrieve the puck was a positive sign for scouts and he has a great frame to do that. He needs to fill out more and work on his defensive game before he gets to the pros.
Tomas Comparison: Patrick Elias
26. Dalton Thrower (Vancouver Canucks)
Dalton Thrower is only 6'0", but he is a monster on the ice. Thrower is a stay-at-home defenseman who throws punishing hits and blows on opposing forwards.
He can chip in with his good shot from the point when needing to but is usually rendered unnecessary because of his great defense. He can ultimately change the tempo and alter the game with a big hit. Thrower is often seen dropping the gloves and is a great teammate.
Comparison: Adam Foote
27. Sebastian Collberg (New Jersey Devils)
Sebastian Collberg might be little, but he sure is mighty. This guy is like a pesky fly hovering around the net. He always seems to find his way around the net despite his size and has great hands up close.
He will be a great prospect for the New Jersey Devils, if Zach Parise decides to go elsewhere.
Comparison: Mats Naslund
28. Ludvig Bystrom (Pheonix Coyotes)
The Phoenix Coyotes always seem to have a game plan when it comes to the draft—build from the net out. The Coyotes seem to have the net filled out with Mike Smith and prospect Mark Visentin.
Already with two Swedish prospects (Oliver-Ekman Larsson and David Rundblad). Ludvig Bystrom would fit in perfect with Ekman Larsson because Bystrom is a steady offensive defenseman. Bystrom could work on his defensive game, as he tends to resort to using his stick more than his body to defend.
Comparison: Tobias Enstrom
29. Niklas Kerdiles (New York Rangers)
The New York Rangers are a revelation when it comes developing players through the US college system, with players such as Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh and Brian Boyle (McDonagh and Boyle were acquired by trade but both went through college system).
So I predict the Rangers draft Niklas Kerdiles. Kerdiles is a forward with size and strength who's not afraid to go into the dirty areas to get pucks. Kerdiles has a dangerous wrist shot and slap shot from the perimeter. The only thing he needs to work on is his skating.
Comparison: Brandon Dubinsky
30. Tanner Pearson (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Tanner Pearson is a great story for this upcoming draft. Pearson is considered a late-bloomer because he has already celebrated his 19th birthday.
However, Pearson took a major step in his development, leading all players in the Ontario Hockey League in points before being selected for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Pearson has great hockey IQ, poise and has a nose for the net.
The only thing scouts want him to work on is his skating, in order to get to the next step.
Comparison: Alex Burrows