2012 NHL Mock Draft: Electrifying Forwards Teams Can't Pass Up Early in Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2012

Let's keep it real here, you guys—defense may win Stanley Cups, but offense is so much more fun to watch.

And for that reason and that reason alone, I've decided to highlight the best and brightest of the forwards available in the 2012 NHL draft.

From a guy named "Nail" to another "Forsberg," this draft has some elite offensive punch at the top of the draft. Let's take a closer look.


1. Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov, LW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Yes, the Oilers will probably look to trade this pick with a number of young offensive weapons already in the system. But if they stay here, Yakupov has to be the pick, and there's no disputing it.

Truly, Yakupov has few weaknesses offensively. He has excellent speed moving forward and is an electric playmaker both as a shooter and as a facilitator for his teammates.

No matter who ends up selecting him, Yakupov will be a stud in the NHL sooner rather than later.


2. Columbus Blue Jackets: Filip Forsberg, LW, Leksands IF (Allsvenkan)

You can't go wrong with a guy named Forsberg, can you?

Okay, so a last name doesn't guarantee anything. And sure, the Blue Jackets may decide they need a more immediate impact than a 17-year-old can offer.

But Forsberg is the prototypical power forward who is a goal-scoring machine and is big enough to battle at the net or score with a slap shot at the blue line. The upside is too high to ignore, and I'd expect the Blue Jackets to invest in the future with Forsberg.


3. Montreal Canadiens: Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec Remparts (QJMHL)

It remains to be seen if the Habs will go after Grigorenko or center prospect Alex Galchenyuk, but one thing is for certain—the Canadiens could use some size and skill in the center of the rink.

Grigorenko has good size, excellent hands and displays creativity on the attack. He has the ability to control possession in the offensive zone and keep defenders at bay before finding a teammate with a crisp pass for a scoring opportunity.

There have been questions about his work ethic, but on pure talent alone he can't be ignored.


4. New York Islanders: Ryan Murray, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Murray is good enough to go as the top pick as well, so if he drops to the Islanders they'll snatch him up in a hurry. Murray is as safe a prospect as they come.


5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarina Sting (OHL)

Galchenyuk is the creative, dangerous young forward that the Leafs desperately need.


6. Anaheim Ducks: Matthew Dumba, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Dumba is a gritty, speedy defenseman with a big shot from the blue line and plus strength. With a run of defensemen about to come off the board, the Ducks will be glad to see him available.


7. Minnesota Wild: Jacob Trouba, D, USNDTP (USHL)

Trouba is a complete defenseman with few weaknesses. Expect to see him off the board anywhere from the fifth to the 10th pick in this draft.


8. Carolina Hurricanes: Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

At 6'4" and with the ability to contribute on the offensive end, Reinhart is an intriguing prospect. Though the Canes might prefer the more complete Trouba, they won't pass up the finesse potential Reinhart brings to the position.


9. Winnipeg Jets: Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Rielly is the prototypical point man, and the Jets will gladly add him to the physical array of defensemen already in town. 


10. Tampa Bay Lightning: Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Jokerit Helsinki (SM-Liiga)

Teravainen and Martin St. Louis on the ice together might just melt the surface, and it will likely light the lamp a few times as well.


11. Washington Capitals (from Colorado Avalanche): Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Adding a two-way power forward, especially at center, is just what the doctor ordered for Washington. With winger Alexander Semin headed out of town, a quick turnaround for Gaunce would certainly be welcomed to bolster Washington's attack.


12. Buffalo Sabres: Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa 67s (OHL)

He's a big, imposing defenseman that can put a hole in a goalie's chest with his slap shot.


13. Dallas Stars: Radek Faksa, C/W, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Faksa is a physical attacker who is excellent getting back defensively. Nice pick for Dallas here.


14. Calgary Flames: Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

He's a big, aggressive center with a wicked shot. Too hard for Calgary to pass up here.


15. Ottawa Senators: Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle (Allsvenskan)

Lindholm's a big kid with "top-pair defenseman" written all over him. Not literally, unless he has a tacky and arrogant taste in tattoos.


16. Washington Capitals: Olli Maatta, D, London Knights (OHL)

They added some offensive punch in Gaunce. Time to snag the top defenseman available.


17. San Jose Sharks: Sebastian Collberg, RW, Vastra Frolunda HC (SEL)

Collberg has some grit to his game, which is always a plus, but he's also a very skilled playmaker. On an aging Sharks team, he'd be a welcome addition.


18. Chicago Blackhawks: Pontus Aberg, LW, Djurgardens IF Stockholm (SEL)

He's as good a skater as you'll find in the draft, and he cuts from the wing to the net as well as any player in this draft. He'll be fun to watch in Chicago.


19. Tampa Bay Lightning: Matt Finn, D, Guelph Storm (OHL)

After going offensive with the first pick, the Lightning will look to shore up the defense with Finn, a smart, two-way defenseman.


20. Philadelphia Flyers: Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Is there any doubt which direction the Flyers will go in this draft? The offensive talent is there, and the defense is lacking. Whoever they judge to be the top defenseman of this draft should be the pick.


21. Buffalo Sabres (from Nashville Predators): Tom Wilson, RW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

Boring name; nasty, physical game. Wilson brings some skill and the ability to bang on the boards and enforce as well.


22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Pouliot's puck-handling and ability to zip around the ice will make him a great point man in the future. He's a steal at this slot in my opinion.


23. Florida Panthers: Brady Skjei, D, USNDTP (USHL)

Skjei is a well-rounded blue-liner and future insurance in the event that Jason Garrison leaves town. 


24. Boston Bruines: Dalton Thrower, D, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

His grit and fearlessness will make him a fan favorite in Boston. Sure, his name suggests a career in javelin or baseball, but what's in a name?


25. St. Louis Blues: Stefan Matteau, C, USNDTP (USHL)

He's an excellent scorer, but not to the point of contributing as a two-way forward. The Blues will like his gritty, physical style.


26. Vancouver Canucks: Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Laughton has "checking-line mainstay" written all over him. Again, not literally.


27. Phoenix Coyotes: Tim Bozon, LW, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Time to add some youth and speed to an aging core of forwards, especially if Ray Whitney and Shane Doan are on the outs.


28. New York Rangers: Andrey Vasilevski, G, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)

We've got our first goalie off the board. Vasilevski won't be NHL-bound for several years, and by that point he can have been groomed as Henrik Lundqvist's eventual replacement.


29. New Jersey Devils: Malcolm Subban, G, Belleville (OHL)

Two goalies in a row! Because, you know, Martin Brodeur isn't exactly a spring chicken.


30. Los Angeles Kings: Tomas Hertl, C, HC Slavia Praha (Czech)

Herti's forechecking and two-way play will fit perfectly with the style the Kings used to win the Stanley Cup.


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