2012 NHL Mock Draft: Prospects That Will Become Instant Superstars
The NHL draft is one of the more predictable within the sports world.
The MLB draft is a crapshoot. There have been countless busts in NBA draft history. The NFL draft has its share of unpredictability as well.
That isn't the case in the NHL draft, though, as many top picks expected to go near the top of the order often do. Not only do they go near the top, but they enjoy successful careers at the next level.
The 2012 NHL draft is no different in terms of predictability, and there are plenty of prospective draftees who have the potential to become instant superstars in the league.
Here is a mock draft highlighting those draftees.
1. Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Yakupov clearly brings the best skill set to the 2012 draft of any available player. He put up 101 points in 65 games in the 2010-2011 season for the Sarnia Sting.
He followed up that stellar performance with a showing of 69 points in 42 games last season.
He's going to be a star in this league, there's no doubt about that. Comparisons are thrown around often, but we seldom hear a player compared to Alex Ovechkin before he ever takes the ice in an NHL game.
His relentless motor is going to lead him to become a star shortly after he is drafted. He's explosive, physical and scores Ovechkin-esque goals game after game.
He'll be a huge draw for Edmonton once he makes it to the professional team, and fans will revel in his abilities.
Not only will he become a superstar for what he does on the ice, but also what he does off. His demeanor and charisma will endear him in the hearts of Oilers fans and hockey fans alike.
This guy is a lock to be at least a top 10 player in the NHL at some point in his career.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets: Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
The Blue Jackets may be scared away from Galchenyuk because of the major knee injury he suffered, but they shouldn't be.
Galchenyuk notched 83 points in 68 games during his rookie season with the Sting at the ripe age of 18.
At 6'2" and 205 pounds, he has a thick frame for a center in the NHL. He's a fast skater, but that's not what sets him apart from his competition.
He's a Ferrari on skates, meaning that he gets to top speed faster than everyone else around him.
Speed isn't his only asset. Galchenyuk can score with outside shots, create his own opportunities on the break and crash the net and finish close. He can also burn most defenders in his path.
He's not just a goal scorer, either. He registered 52 assists in his 83-point rookie campaign in the OHL. His ice vision is only going to increase with more experience, and he'll become one of the best passing centers in the league once he hits his prime.
3. Montreal Canadiens: Ryan Murray, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Murray is the best defensive prospect in this draft, but there are questions regarding how high his ceiling is. He'll prove to be a high-quality defenseman in the NHL, but most likely won't reach superstar status when all is said and done.
4. New York Islanders: Filip Forsberg, Winger, Leksands IF (Allsvenskan)
The Islanders have a decent crop of young talent on the roster that would be perfect to pair with Forsberg.
He's the best player in the draft that didn't make the move to North America last season, as he stayed in Sweden to hone his skills.
At 6'1", he's just 176 pounds. He'll need to put on some weight if he wants to gain the durability trait, but that shouldn't be a problem once he beings an NHL strength and conditioning regiment.
He's only 17 years old, but is strong and physical for a player his size.
Eight goals and 17 points in 43 games isn't anything stellar but, when you consider that Forsberg was playing against grown men at the young age of 17, you have to give credit where credit is due.
He has a reputation for scoring when his team needs it most, an admirable trait from a player his age. The age factor will scare some teams away, but the Islanders aren't going anywhere in the next couple years anyway.
Forsberg has all the tools one needs to become a star in the NHL, so don't be surprised when it happens.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec Ramparts (QMJHL)
I'm taking a gamble on Grigorenko at No. 5. Some people don't think he has what it takes to succeed in the league, but people on the other side of the spectrum believe that he is one of the top talents in this draft.
Either way, he definitely has the potential to become a superstar in this league.
He notched 85 points in 59 games for the Ramparts and showed a perfect distribution between goals and assists (40 goals, 45 assists).
At 18 years old, he's shown the ability to make his teammates better—a talent that will only be accentuated in the NHL when he is surrounded by players with greater ability.
When you watch him on film, his hand speed jumps out at you first. It looks like every shot is a one-timer, even when he already has the puck. Quick hands don't just go away, which is why this kid is going to be one of the top centers in the NHL eventually.
His passing skills are what put him over the top as an elite prospect. His vision and the creative ways in which he finds his teammates are promising for the future.
He'll be a star in Toronto soon.
6. Anaheim Ducks: Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Reinhart is absolutely huge at 6'4" and 200-plus pounds. He'll be an enforcer in the middle for the Ducks, but is also a good skater and smart player.
7. Minnesota Wild: Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Dumba doesn't mind doing the dirty work on the ice. He can hit, fight and crash the net.
Couple that with his speed, shot and leadership qualities, and you have a franchise defender.
8. Carolina Hurricanes: Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Rielly is one of the best skaters in this draft class. He's always in the right place and knows how to spring an odd-man rush as well as anybody. He also flashed the ability to help out on the offensive end with 18 points in as many games before he got hurt.
9. Winnipeg Jets: Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
One of the best two-way defenders in the draft, Ceci posted 60 points in 63 games with the 67's. At 6'2", he's extremely mobile and versatile for a guy his size.
He will only get better once he learns how to use his frame in the NHL.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning: Jacob Trouba, D, U.S. U-18 Team
The Lightning are set up front with Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell on the offensive end. Trouba is a lock to become a quality NHL defenseman, but he's not going to be a superstar like the players picked before him.
11. Washington Capitals (from COL): Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Faksa doesn't too anything too flashy on the ice, but he posts good numbers as a two-way center.
He gets by more on his hockey IQ than skill, which will lead him to become a second-liner in the NHL rather than a bona fide star.
12. Buffalo Sabres: Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Jokerit (Finland)
Teravainen gets up to top speed very fast and uses his superior skating ability to get himself an open shot. His puck skills are top-notch too, and the only thing keeping him from going higher is the average velocity on his shot.
13. Dallas Stars: Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque (USHL)
Girgensons is a grinder at the center spot, but won't evolve into much more. The fans will love him for his all-out play, but he's a bit slow.
That will need to change if he's going to become a first line center in the league.
14. Calgary Flames: Olli Maatta, D, London Knights (OHL)
Maatta has good size at 6'2" and 200 pounds, but doesn't use that frame for big hits. Instead, he goes to poke the puck away, just like Nicklas Lidstrom used to do.
He won't have a career as illustrious as Lidstrom's, but he'll be a decent second line defender.
15. Ottawa Senators: Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Koekkoek is a big, physical defender with great skating skills for someone his size. You seldom see a forward get around him near the net, which will help him establish himself as a solid defender.
He has a killer shot too, which will do wonders for the Senators' forecheck.
16. Washington Capitals: Sebastian Collberg, RW, Frolunda HC (Sweden)
Collberg is a bit small at 5'11" and 174 pounds, but he makes up for that lack of size with impressive speed and an extremely quick release on his wrist shot. He can beat a defender straight up if he has to.
If he's able to bulk up, he'll be a steal for the Capitals at No. 16 overall.
17. San Jose Sharks: Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle (Sweden)
Lindholm is a work in progress as a defender, but he has all the raw skills necessary to become a first-liner in the future. He's a fast skater who always seems to find himself in the right spot on the offensive end.
18. Chicago Blackhawks: Oscar Dansk, G, Brynas IF (Elitserien)
Dansk is the most surefire goalie prospect in this draft. The cupboards are pretty bare of quality net minders in the Blackhawks organization, and they need a guy who won't amount to a bust at No. 18 overall.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (from DET): Tom Wilson, RW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
You won't find many right wingers in the entry draft that are 6'4" and 200 pounds, but the Lightning have found themselves one in Wilson.
He doesn't care who you are, how big you are or where you came from, and will lay the wood on anybody if need be. He's the perfect guy to act as an enforcer for Stamkos in Tampa Bay.
20. Philadelphia Flyers: Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Pouliot is the perfect defenseman to spring an odd-man rush for the Flyers.
They have plenty of talent up front, but could use a guy on the back line to get the puck up to their attackers efficiently and precisely.
21. Buffalo Sabres (from NSH): Tomas Hertl, C/LW, Slavia (Czech Republic)
Another grinding forward in this draft, Hertl doesn't have the skate speed to becoming a prolific scorer in the NHL.
However, he has quick hands and will settle in quite well on the forecheck. He's a good passer and isn't afraid to get down and dirty in either zone.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville Bulls (OHL)
If Gaunce falls to the Penguins at No. 22, they need to grab him.
He's touted for his ice vision, skating skills, hockey IQ and shot, but it's his leadership qualities that precede all of those abilities. This kid has captain potential in the future.
23. Florida Panthers: Brady Skjei, D, USA U-18 Team
The Panthers aren't sorely in need of a defender in their lower ranks, but Skjei is a big dude.
Not only is he big, but he's showcased an impeccable propensity to correct read plays before they develop.
That trait will only get better with experience against better competition.
24. Boston Bruins: Matt Finn, D, Guelph Storm (OHL)
Finn doesn't have as high of a ceiling as other defensive prospects in this draft, but he's a smart player. Intelligence will help a young player almost as much as physical ability will.
He has one of the highest hockey IQs in the draft, which won't get him taken towards the top, but it looks great at the back end of the first round.
25. St. Louis Blues: Henrik Samuelsson, C/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (OHL)
Samuelsson's size allows him to bang around on the boards with big defenders once he dumps the puck in to the offensive zone. He's another guy who finds himself in the right place most of the time, and has top six scoring potential in the league.
26. Vancouver Canucks: Colton Sissons, C/RW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Sissons is the highest-rated prospect coming out of the WHL in this year's draft. He's great on the defensive end, but will also contribute on the offensive end.
He's known as a high character guy, something that never hurts a player's draft stock.
27. Phoenix Coyotes: Pontus Agberg, LW, Djurgardens (Sweden)
Agberg is a great prospect, for he can finish and seldom has the puck stolen from him.
His chances of getting drafted earlier were crushed when he posted sub-par numbers at the back end of his last season, but he has a relentless motor that will ensure he doesn't fall out of the first round.
28. New York Rangers: Ville Pokka, D, Karpat (SM-liiga)
The Rangers don't have many glaring needs in the lower levels of their organization, so they may as well grab a defender who can lay down and block some shots for John Tortorella.
He's great on the power play and sparks the transition game fairly well.
29. New Jersey Devils: Nicolas Kerdiles, C, US U-18 Team
The Devils aren't lacking in one particular area in their organization, so adding a well-rounded forward like Kerdiles would benefit them.
Martin Brodeur hasn't made his decision as to if he will return next season, so this draft might not be the time for the Devils to take a goalie.
30. Los Angeles Kings (optional to CBJ): Mark Jankowski, C, Stanstead College (Quebec Prep)
Jankowski has the perfect combination of size, puck skills and skating speed and flair.
The jury is still out on whether he's going to be an elite forward in the NHL, but his physical assets and skills give reason to believe that he could become one of the best in the future.
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