It is often wise to take the best player available when it is your team’s turn to draft. It is better to do this instead of drafting by need, because that way you can encounter a situation like the 1984 draft involving Sam Bowie and Michael Jordan.
Here is a mock draft for all 30 teams and their best-case scenario for when they pick. The draft will involve potential trades and scenarios occurring that would allow a team selecting the best possible player available by the time each team is up in the draft.
1. Edmonton Oilers - Nail Yakupov, F, Sarnia
Nail Yakupov is a player with tremendous skill and has the potential to be the next big thing.
In the OHL, Yakupov put up some impressive numbers and his 5”10 189-pound frame will allow him to score with skill and ease. If Yakupov continues to grow and develop at an alarming rate, he could become a household name in as little as two years.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets - Nail Yakupov, F, Sarnia
The best-case scenario for the Blue Jackets would see the Oilers selecting Ryan Murray with their No.1 pick so Scott Howson could scoop up Nail Yakupov
3. Montreal Canadiens - Mikhail Grigorenko, F, Quebec
Yakupov will not fall this far so the Canadiens will “settle” for Mikhail Grigorenko.
Mikhail Grigorenko is a solid pick who, in my mind, climbed the ladder in this draft because of his explosive skill. The Quebec Rempart is a talented center with smooth hands and skill who can put the puck and the net and can set up his teammates. In the 2011-12 season, Grigorenko scored 40 goals and assisted on 45 others for 85 points.
4. New York Islanders - Mikhail Grigorenko, F, Quebec
If the Oilers selected Murray, and if the Blue Jackets selected Yakupov and Montreal picked Alex Galchenyuk, the Islanders would love to select Grigorenko. He would fit quite nicely with the Islanders and would likely start in the NHL this season.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs - Nail Yakupov, F, Sarnia
Brian Burke wants to add skill to the Maple Leafs’ roster during the draft. He would love to trade up to draft Nail Yakupov and there is a possibility that could happen.
If Toronto traded their No.5 pick and Jake Gardiner for the No.1 pick, Edmonton would get their defenseman and could almost certainly guarantee that UFA Justin Schultz would join his old partner in Edmonton.
6. Anaheim Ducks - Alex Galenchyuk, F, Sarnia
The best-case scenario for the Ducks would see them drafting Alex Galenchyuk. This is how it could occur.
- No. 1 EDM–Ryan Murray
- No. 2 CBJ–Nail Yakupov
- No. 3 MTL–Mikhail Grigorenko
- No. 4 NYI–Mathew Dumba
- No. 5 TOR–Filip Forsberg
If the first five picks went this way, the Ducks could scoop up Galenchyuk of the Sarnia Sting. He suffered a knee injury earlier this season, but that shouldn’t stop Anaheim from drafting the skilled forward. It isn't likely for all the following to occur, but it is possibly.
7. Minnesota Wild - Filip Forsberg, F, Leksands
If you take the following scenario and substitute Galcheyuk for Forsberg and place Griffin Reinhart at No. 6, it would leave Forsberg at No. 7. It isn't likely but could happen.
Forsberg would be a solid pick for the Wild at No.7 because of his versatility. He plays both wings, has a good-sized frame and has impressive speed and hands.
Forsberg is a player who really could make an impact in Minnesota.
At this point it is unlikely that any top forward or defenseman would fall this far, so here are some picks that would make sense for each team which would be the best possible pick available.
8. Carolina Hurricanes - Teuvo Teravainen, F, Jokerit
Teravainen is a 17-year-old offensive prospect with good hands, vision and playmaking abilities. Can you imagine a polished Teravainen playing alongside Eric Staal or Jeff Skinner in a few years?
With high risk comes high reward, and in this case Carolina would make a smart choice. His stock really rose as he moved from No. 7 at the midterm rankings to No. 2 overall for European skaters at the final rankings.
9. Winnipeg Jets - Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton
Reinhart has tons of potential and he would fit well in Winnipeg. He has size and a booming shot which makes him an offensive threat. Can you imagine a pairing featuring Dustin Byfuglien and Reinhart staring down an opposing goalie on the power play.
Reinhart has the pedigree and is a well known name, so he is an easy selection at No. 9 overall.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning - Jacob Trouba, D, USA U-18
The Tampa Bay Lightning want to continue to improve their defensive corps. Trouba is a young defenseman with grit and grind who would fit very well in Tampa. Trouba will eventually assimilate into the AHL, and Tampa has one of the best developmental systems in the NHL today.
11. Washington Capitals (from COL) - Radek Faksa, F, Kitchner
The Capitals would love to improve their center depth. Faksa is a player with solid upside and two-way play. In 62 games, Faksa scored 29 goals and assisted on 38 others for 67 points. Adding Faksa at No. 11 overall would be a great steal for the Capitals
12. Buffalo Sabres - Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa
Cody Ceci is a defenseman that has offensive upside, is quick on his feet and can move the puck. He has the potential to be a solid two-way defenseman and a potential power-play-quarterback. The Sabres would love to draft a defenseman like him to add to their ranks.
He could go earlier in the draft depending how quickly the top forwards are taken, so he would be a great pickup at No.12.
13. Dallas Stars - Olli Maatta, D, London
Maatta is a defensive defenseman with some offensive instincts. He is a good positional player and loves to work over forwards and pickpocket them in the process. Maatta has no problem joining the rush and has a power play worthy shot. In 2011-12, Maatta scored five goals and assisted on 27 others for 32 points.
14. Calgary Flames - Zemgus Girgensons, F, Dubuque
Girgensons had a solid year with Dubuque of the USHL, scoring 55 points in 49 games. He will continue to develop next season at the University of Vermont. The NCAA has seen prospects like Charlie Coyle and Chris Kreider emerge as talented players, so Girgensons should be in good hands.
Here is a clip of the future NCAA prospect showing off his breakaway skills.
15. Ottawa Senators - Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle
The Senators locked up fellow Swede Erik Karlsson long term with a new contract extension. It is quite possible they could draft another Swedish defenseman for Karlsson to eventually mentor.
Lindholm is a solid defensive prospect who could really blossom and benefit the Sens in a few years. At age 18, he is still very young but has the potential to be a solid two-way defenseman.
16. Washington Capitals - Sebastian Collberg, F, Frolunda HC
The Capitals took Radek Faksa at No. 11, so drafting another top forward at No. 16 would be a great pickup for the team.
Collberg is a right winger who is 5’11” and 174 lbs and has some nice hands and offensive skills.
17. San Jose Sharks - Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough
Slater Koekkoek is a solid pick who is young and talented. He is very dependable in his own end, uses his frame to be physical and has a solid shot and offensive instincts.
Koekkoek would eventually slot into a top-four role for the Sharks in a few years.
18. Chicago Blackhawks - Brendan Gaunce, F, Belleville
The Blackhawks drafting Gaunce at this point would be a mini-steal. Some mock drafts have Gaunce going as early as No. 12 overall so acquiring the 2011-12 point-per-game player would be a solid addition. As Gaunce physically matures, his stock will only increase.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (from DET) - Tom Wilson, F, Plymouth
Tom Wilson is an interesting player. He is a hard-nosed forward who oozes grit. He blocks shots, dishes out hits, kills penalties and can use his size effectively. He also can contribute some offense, and considering the make-up of the Lightning, Wilson could be a player like Ryan Malone in a few years with proper development.
20. Philadelphia Flyers - Matt Finn, D, Guelph
The Flyers could look to draft a defenseman, so they would love it if Ginn slid down to No. 20. The team already has some talented forwards in their arsenal, so drafting a defenseman in Matt Ginn makes sense at No. 20.
In 61 games, Finn scored 10 goals and assisted on 37 others for a total of 47 points.
21. Buffalo Sabres (from NSH) - Tomas Hertl, F, Slavia
Hertl is a solid Czech player with nice offensive upside. The Penguins hold the No. 22 pick and would have loved to select this player but I see the Sabres scooping him up.
Hertl has top-six potential because of his hands, playmaking ability and his tenacity with the puck.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins - Derrick Pouliot, D ,Portland
Pouliot is an offensive defenseman who is comfortable with the puck. He could be a successful power-play quarterback because of his smooth hands, calmness under pressure and his size. In 72 games, Pouliot scored 11 goals and assisted on 48 others for 59 points.
23. Florida Panthers - Brady Skjei, D, USA U-18
Skjei is a nice young prospect with upside. He is still developing but could really pan out in a few years. The Panthers are a team that has built through the draft over the last few years, so picking up a young defenseman at this point would be great.
The Panthers want to develop their blue line and infuse it with youth, so adding Skjei down the line would make tons of sense.
24. Boston Bruins - Dalton Thrower, D, Saskatoon
At this point in the draft, teams can get creative with the best player available or they can go off the radar.
The Bruins are a team that would love to add to their depth defensively, especially considering the fact that Dougie Hamilton could be an NHL-er next season.
Picking Thrower at this point would be a solid move, as he would be the best defenseman still on the board.
25. St. Louis Blues - Colton Sissons, F, Kelowna
Sissons is a right winger and center with average size. In 58 games, Sissons scored 26 goals and assisted on 15 others for 41 points. He would be a nice pick to stash away for a St. Louis team that could stand to improve offensively.
26. Vancouver Canucks - Henrik Samuelsson, F, Edmonton
This Canucks pick would add some offense with grit an area the team would love to stock pile. Samuelsson is a hard nosed forward and is tough to move off the puck. He will get physical and plays with an edge.
27. Phoenix Coyotes - Pontus Aberg, F, Djurgardens
The Coyotes are a team that would love to add some offense to their team in the coming years. Aberg is young, fast and a player who could develop into a solid secondary scorer. He was ranked No. 4 at the midterm European rankings but dropped down to No. 6 at the final rankings.
This pick would make fellow Swede Oliver Ekman-Larsson very happy.
28. New York Rangers - Stefan Matteau, F, USNTDP
If he is available at this point, the Rangers will draft the son of 1994 Stanley Cup playoff here Stephane Matteau. The younger Matteau is a physical power-forward with grit and skill. He is the type of player you want on your team because he does what it takes to win.
29. New Jersey Devils - Malcolm Subban, G, Belleville
The New Jersey Devils need an heir to Martin Brodeur’s crease, and Malcolm Subban could be that guy. He is the top-ranked goaltender in the draft and brother of Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban.
30. Los Angeles Kings - Scott Laughton, F, Oshawa
The Stanley Cup Champions don't really have any glaring holes, so they would be happy to swoop up Scott Laughton at No. 30. Laughton is a player who has climbed up the scouting ladder drastically. At the midterm rankings, he was No. 40 among North American skaters but finished No. 28 in the final ranking.
The Kings would take the best player available at this time and Laughton appears to be just that.