NHL Mock Draft 2012: Predicting Every First-Round Pick
The first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is now just around the corner.
So far, the tradewinds have remained calm. We have a draft order, and more than a hundred eager young men waiting for fate to spin its wheel.
It's likely that deals will still be made before the draft or on the floor, which truly makes the mock draft a fool's game.
Based on what we know right now, here's how the first round should shake down.
1. Edmonton Oilers—Nail Yakupov
RW - Sarnia Sting (OHL) - 5'11" - 185
Despite the Oilers' need to improve their blueline, Yakupov is too good a prospect to pass up.
The right winger has the flash of a Pavel Bure, and has made all the right moves in showing that he's committed to staying in North America and happy to play in Edmonton.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets—Alex Galchenyuk
C - Sarnia Sting (OHL) - 6'1" - 198
I'm going to bet that they'll want to treat their fans to an exciting offensive prospect and if Yakupov's gone, Galchenyuk most closely fits the bill.
Born and raised in America to Belarusian parents, Galchenyuk has the best of both worlds.
He also has oodles of talent. Despite missing most of the 2011-12 season after tearing his ACL in September, Galchenyuk's stock has only risen in the weeks leading up to the draft.
3. Montreal Canadiens—Mikhail Grigorenko
C - Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) - 6'3" - 200
Marc Bergevin will need to make an impressive first move to satisfy the faithful at Bell Centre.
Their front end needs to be revamped, and Grigorenko is an impressive specimen at 6'3" and 200 pounds. He also has good speed and skill for a big man.
Grigorenko is committed to staying in North America and playing in the NHL, and could be a future star that Montreal can build around.
4. New York Islanders—Ryan Murray
D - Everett Silvertips (WHL) - 6'1" - 195
Murray's the tough stay-at-home defenseman from the Everett Silvertips that many think Steve Tambellini covets in Edmonton. He's arguably the top choice in a draft rich in blueliners.
With just four defensemen currently under contract, the Islanders could use help sooner rather than later. Murray will turn 19 during preseason. Assuming there's no lockout, an entry-level NHL contract would make an amazing birthday gift.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs—Filip Forsberg
LW - Leksand (Allsvenskan) - 6'2" - 181
Filip Forsberg has climbed many scouts' lists dramatically since Sweden won gold at the World Junior Championship in January and is now ranked by Central Scouting as the top European skater available in this year's draft.
He's not related to Peter Forsberg, but the name recognition alone would probably help him along in Toronto, where every hockey detail is analyzed under the microscope. With power forward potential, Forsberg could help the Leafs up front in the future.
6. Anaheim Ducks—Griffin Reinhart
D - Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) - 6'4" - 197
The Anaheim Ducks like their players big and physical. The Edmonton Oil Kings' Griffin Reinhart fits the bill. At 6'4", he will be an imposing blueliner when he reaches the NHL.
The Memorial Cup finalist also has a good attitude and excellent hockey sense thanks to his hockey dad, Paul Reinhart.
7. Minnesota Wild—Matthew Dumba
D - Red Deer Rebels (WHL) - 6'0" - 173
The Wild are also in need of some bodies to help out on the back end, and Dumba is a prospect around whom you can build your back end.
His two best weapons are his big hits and his big shot. Those are game-changing attributes that haven't been seen much around the Xcel Energy Center. Dumba would be a great fit for the Wild.
8. Carolina Hurricanes—Radek Faksa
C - Kitchener Rangers (OHL) - 6'3" - 203
Carolina loves the Kitchener Rangers.
Last year they drafted Kitchener's Ryan Murphy in the first round, and in 2010 it was Calder winner Jeff Skinner.
This year, they can make it a trifecta by selecting center Radek Faksa with their No. 8 pick.
This is Faksa's first year in North America, stepping into the Rangers' import spot that was vacated when this year's Calder winner Gabriel Landeskog made the leap to the Colorado Avalanche. The 6'3" Faksa put up 67 points in 62 games with the Rangers and is now ready for his close-up.
9. Winnipeg Jets—Jacob Trouba
D - USNTDP (USHL) - 6'2" - 193
The next step for the Winnipeg Jets franchise is to stock their team with some fan favourites who can sell jerseys and generate buzz.
Big Dustin Byfuglien has made a splash. Jacob Trouba would be another solid, physical blueline presence.
Trouba's not afraid to throw his body around and also has good offensive skill. He'd be a definite asset for the Jets.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning—Olli Maatta
D - London Knights (OHL) - 6'2" - 202
Tampa Bay needs a defenseman who will be ready to play in the NHL as soon as possible, and Olli Maata fits the bill.
The Finnish star emphasizes his defensive game and can play a shutdown role.
11. Washington Capitals (from Colorado)—Morgan Rielly
D - Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) - 6'0" - 190
Morgan Rielly's top asset is his offensive game. He's a playmaker.
Rielly also carries a bit of a question mark after missing most of last season with an ACL injury. Still, his credentials are solid and he'd be a dynamic addition to Washington's young defense corps.
12. Buffalo Sabres—Teuvo Teravainen
LW - Jokerit (SM-Liiga) - 5'11" - 165
Teravainen is one of the smaller players projected to go in the first round this year, but he's also one of the most offensively gifted. Think Saku Koivu as a winger.
Once he fills out, he could be an exciting prospect for Sabres fans.
13. Dallas Stars—Derrick Pouliot
D - Portland Winterhawks (WHL) - 5'11" - 190
Pouliot will be a strong puck-moving defenseman with good offensive upside once his body matures a bit more. Additional strength will help both his skating and his shot.
Dallas will be another team to reap the rewards of this year's strong crop of defensive options.
14. Calgary Flames—Cody Ceci
D - Ottawa 67's (OHL) - 6'3" - 207
Ceci also possesses a rocket of a shot, and is ranked sixth among North American skaters by Central Scouting. Calgary will be thrilled if they can grab him at 14.
15. Ottawa Senators—Hampus Lindholm
D - Rögle (Elitserien) - 6'3" - 196
Why not see if history can repeat itself with another Swedish blueline prospect? Lindholm has great size and solid credentials, and the Sens' system would be a perfect place for him to develop.
16. Washington Capitals—Tomas Hertl
C - HC Slavia Praha (Czech Extraliga) - 6'2" - 198
At age 18, Hertl is already playing in the Czech professional league. He's a big, talented center who put up a bunch of points at last year's World Junior Championship.
If the Capitals take a defenseman with their No. 11 pick, it makes sense for them to cover all bases with a forward here at 16.
17. San Jose Sharks—Malcolm Subban
G - Belleville Bulls (OHL) - 6'1" - 188
Remember when the San Jose Sharks had so many goalies, they didn't know what to do?
Things have changed, dramatically. The Sharks might want to get back to growing their own goalie, and the athletic Malcolm Subban has a high enough profile that he'll keep the fans interested as he develops.
18. Chicago Blackhawks—Thomas Wilson
RW - Plymouth Whalers (OHL) - 6'4" 203
Thomas Wilson's biggest asset is his physical game, which could open up room on the ice for Chicago's current skill forwards.
Just two years removed from a Stanley Cup, the Hawks need to supplement their young core of stars if they hope to return to elite status anytime soon.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (from Detroit)—Andrei Vasilevski
G - Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL) - 6'3" - 204
Steve Yzerman has stated that he'd rather develop a young goalie than trade for an experienced netminder for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Anders Lindback is promising, but the Lightning can upgrade at the draft.
Andrei Vasilevski had an amazing World Junior tournament in Alberta this year and looks poised to be an NHL star in years to come.
20. Philadelphia Flyers—Matthew Finn
D - Guelph Storm (OHL) - 6'0" - 192
The Flyers' defense corps is aging, and Matthew Finn is projected to be a safe, reliable choice on the blueline.
He also has offensive talent and can quarterback the powerplay from the point.
21. Buffalo Sabres (from Nashville)—Brendan Gaunce
C - Belleville Bulls (OHL) - 6'2" - 215
The Sabres are small up front. A big center like Brendan Gaunce, who some are comparing to Keith Primeau, could do a lot to change that situation.
Gaunce plays a two-way game and would be a great fit in Buffalo.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins—Slater Koekkoek
D - Peterborough Petes (OHL) - 6'2" - 184
Slater Koekkoek was projected as a higher pick at the start of the season, but missed 40 games in 2011-12 with a shoulder injury.
Pittsburgh is deep at forward but could use some blueline help. Hometown fans should have no trouble cheering this pick at Consol Energy Center.
23. Florida Panthers—Zemgus Girgensons
C - Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) - 6'2" - 198
Latvians who make the NHL are few and far between. Arturs Irbe and Karlis Skrastins probably have the highest profile.
Zemgus Girgensons has a chance to make history as the first Latvian ever to be selected in the first round of the draft.
He has spent a year in the US playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, has a great attitude, and is ready to make his mark as a power forward.
Girgensons missed a good chunk of the season with a shoulder injury, otherwise his stock might have been even higher. He'd be a great asset to a developing Panthers franchise.
24. Boston Bruins—Oscar Dansk
G - Brynäs (Elitserien) - 6'3" - 186
Oscar Dansk was a standout for Sweden at the 2012 World Junior Championship.
25. St. Louis—Pontus Aberg
LW - Djurgården (Elitserien) - 5'11" - 194
The Blues' improvement this season came largely due to a tighter defensive system.
They need more scoring, and Aberg is a classic Swedish scoring winger. He has good hands and good determination. As such, he'd be an asset for St. Louis.
26. Vancouver Canucks—Henrik Samuelsson
RW - Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) - 6'2" - 211
The Canucks are looking to get bigger and meaner up front.
Henrik Samuelsson is the son of Ulf Samuelsson, but he plays right wing. He was a star for the Oil Kings in their Memorial Cup run, which has increased his draft stock significantly.
The Canucks took Cory Schneider with their 26th pick back in 2004. Will this be their lucky number once again?
27. Phoenix Coyotes—Tanner Pearson
LW - Barrie Colts (OHL) - 6'0" - 195
This is Tanner Pearson's third year of draft eligibility, but he's proven to be a late bloomer. He'll be 20 by the start of next season, which makes him all the more likely to step right into an NHL lineup.
The Coyotes could use scoring help up front sooner than later, which makes Pearson a good fit for the Desert Dogs.
28. New York Rangers—Stefan Matteau
C - USNTDP (USHL) - 6'2" - 210
Are the New York Rangers ready for a new generation of "Mattteau! Matteau!"?
This Stefan is the son of past Rangers star Stephane Matteau. He's a big, tough center who could be a fan favourite in the Big Apple if he lives up to his promise.
29. New Jersey Devils—Colton Sissons
C - Kelowna Rockets (WHL) - 6'1" - 187
Colton Sissons could be the next name added to that list. He's a solid center from North Vancouver who could slot comfortably into the Devils' lineup.
30. Los Angeles Kings—Sebastian Collberg
RW - Frölunda (Elitserien) - 5'11" - 176
Sebastian Collberg is not the biggest player who will go in the first round on Friday, but the shifty Swedish winger is rich with talent.
He'd be a nice compliment to the hulking front line that's already in place in Los Angeles.