NHL Draft 2012: 8 Players That Could Be Sleeper Picks

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIIJune 20, 2012

NHL Draft 2012: 8 Players That Could Be Sleeper Picks

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    The sleepers. They're the players in the draft that aren't necessarily the best, but they have the potential to be great players in the NHL. They're the players that make their general managers look like a genius.

    Brandon Saad was one of those players last year. He wasn't taken until the second round, yet he almost made the NHL full time this past season. Ryan O'Reilly actually completed the feat in 2009.

    The 2012 draft has a number of players that could be sleeper picks. That usually happens when there is a small group of players that are sure to be stars and then a steep drop in skill level occurs for the rest of the first round.

    Here are eight players who I think will be the biggest sleepers at this Friday and Saturday's draft.

Radek Faksa

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    Radek Faksa led all OHL rookies in goals, assist, points, game-winning goals and plus/minus this past season.

    While he won't make the NHL for at least another couple seasons, whoever picks him up will have a pretty good player on their hands. If he keeps improving, maybe even a great one.

Cody Ceci

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    Though Cody Ceci is in the top 10 of North American skaters, he will still more than likely fall into the 10-20 range.

    An offensive defenseman to the bone who finished in second in OHL scoring among defensemen, Ceci could be one of the biggest steals in the draft.

Zemgus Girgensons

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    As I have said in both my mock drafts, Zemgus Girgensons could be a future captain in the NHL.

    As he will be heading to the University of Vermont next season, if a team is willing to wait for his services, it will have some good leadership coming down the pipeline.

Hampus Lindholm

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    There's just something about Swedish defenseman—Borje Salming, Nicklas Lidstrom, Erik Karlsson, just to name a few.

    If Hampus Lindholm lands in the right situation, he could add his name to the list of great Swedish defensemen eventually.

Brendan Gaunce

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    Brendan Gaunce is a player that could have gone in the top 10 if the draft took place a couple of months ago. When you have a player like that, he could either turn out to be a regular player, but there is also the possibility that the team that drafts him will be getting a superstar.

Colton Sissons

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    The next three players all could all be drafted on Saturday.

    Colton Sissons, like Gaunce, was ranked higher in the midseason rankings. Sissons is the captain of the Kelowna Rockets and is another player who has the leadership qualities that could make him an NHL captain one day.

Tanner Pearson

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    Tanner Pearson was passed over in last year's draft. There's no way that will happen this year. After a great year playing alongside Winnipeg Jets prospect Mark Scheifele, Pearson is now sure to be a late first- or early second-round pick.

Martin Frk

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    Martin Frk was sure to be a top-15 pick in this year's draft. Bleacher Report's own Jake Ware had him being selected 13th in a mock draft he did in November. A concussion slowed him down as the season went on and now will more than likely go in the 30-40 range.

    If he can regain his pre-concussion form, the team that drafts him will undoubtedly have the biggest steal in the draft.