With the 2012 NHL draft starting Friday, mock drafts are now in greater abundance than Stanley Cup Champion paraphernalia in Southern California.
Unlike the NFL draft, doing a mock draft for the NHL presents its own unique challenges.
With the NFL draft, when a team drafts a player, unless there is a contract dispute or holdout, it knows that particular player will play.
In the NHL, many teams draft players from all over the world not knowing if they will ever appear in an NHL rink.
This reality can impact the picks being made at the draft, but in many ways, is what makes this fun.
Personally, I have studied at least 20 to 25 mock drafts analyzing all sorts of picks, scenarios and projections. An excellent full seven-round mock draft appeared here at Bleacher Report by Jake Ware.
I am not going to try anything that ambitious. But I am going to try and use the latest information I have gathered to project the picks for the first two rounds of the 2012 NHL draft, complete with videos for each pick (where they were available, of course).
I believe the first two rounds of this year's draft will be very exciting and could shape the futures of several franchises.
Let's see which teams are likely to move forward, and which ones might take a step back.
Team: Sarnia (OHL)
Height/Weight: 5'11"/189 lbs.
While the Oilers might toy with the notion of drafting a blueliner, it will only be a fleeting thought.
With needs up and down the roster, the Oilers will not surprise anyone and draft consensus No. 1 pick Nail Yakupov.
With excellent skills and scary physicality, Yakupov lit the OHL on fire this past year, registering 101 points in just 65 games.
He has also stated that he has no intentions of leaving the NHL for the KHL, which should make Oilers management feel a lot better about the pick.
Simply put, Yakupov is the best player in the draft, and he will go No. 1 to Edmonton.
Team: Everett (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6'1"/200 lbs.
While Yakupov represents the top offensive prospect in the draft, Ryan Murray is the best defensive prospect.
He is an NHL-ready defenseman who does not have any glaring weaknesses.
He has a great slap shot, is very physical and can quarterback a power play. Murray looks like he will quickly emerge as a two-way defender for the Blue Jackets.
Columbus is another team with multiple needs, and drafting Murray will instantly improve the team on defense.
Team: Sarnia (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/185 lbs.
With the Habs needing some more explosiveness to their offense, look for them to take Alex Galchenyuk with the third pick in the draft.
Galchenyuk, the former No. 1 pick in the OHL's 2010 Priority Selection, spent his time last season playing alongside Nail Yakupov—and he was just as impressive as the projected No. 1 pick. He may even be more NHL-ready than his former teammate.
There is some concern because Galchenyuk missed most of the regular season with a knee injury. Nonetheless, he played very well in the OHL playoffs and was also impressive at the combine.
A solid pickup for Montreal that will help the Habs as they try to get back to the playoffs.
Team: Leksands (Swe)
Height/Weight: 6'1"/176 lbs.
Filip Forsberg is probably the top European skater in a draft that showcases a lot of European talent.
Forsberg will need to remain in Sweden for another year or so, but the Islanders need to bolster their offense, and this will be a solid investment.
By drafting Forsberg, the Islanders will solidify their future with a playmaker who, when he is ready, will make a major impact.
Team: Quebec (QMJHL)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/200 lbs.
The Maple Leafs will take a step in the right direction by drafting Mikhail Grigorenko at No. 5.
With great net presence and excellent size, Grigorenko will give the Leafs a versatile player who can play center or slide over to wing.
Equally important, Grigorenko will help to make the Leafs offense more up-tempo, something they have been trying to accomplish for awhile now.
Grigorenko will be a big help there.
Team: Red Deer (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/175 lbs.
If you read my article where I analyzed 15 potential draft picks for the Washington Capitals, you will already know that I am a big Matthew Dumba fan.
The Ducks will be very pleased with this addition to the lineup, as Dumba is the type of player who can really transform a defense.
He is always moving, has great hands, a cannon for a shot and hits like a freight train.
He could stand to bulk up a bit more, but he is very impressive all the same.
With Anaheim looking to strengthen their defense, Dumba is a great pickup at No. 6.
Team: Moose Jaw (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/190 lbs.
With the Wild needing to address several issues, they will focus on defense first and draft Morgan Rielly.
Rielly has drawn comparisons to Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, and if he turns out to be that good, Minnesota will be very pleased with its selection.
The biggest questions about Rielly center on whether he can improve his defensive game and whether he has fully recovered from an ACL injury that sidelined him for most of last season.
Still, all indications are that Rielly recovered just fine. If he is productive and healthy, this will end up being a steal.
Team: USA U-18
Height/Weight: 6'1"/185 lbs.
While the Hurricanes need to find some scoring help, I think the chance to draft the No. 1 rated prospect in the United States will be too good for Carolina to pass up.
With a couple of World Under-18 gold medals already on his resume, Jacob Trouba is a natural leader who already knows how to thrive under pressure.
Trouba also has that certain intangible quality to him that many general managers just love.
With a couple more picks coming later on, Carolina will decide to hold off on offense and take a major step towards making its defense even better with this pick.
Team: Edmonton (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/200 lbs.
With the Jets needing help in many areas, they will get exactly what they are looking for with Griffin Reinhart.
He has the exact height and weight every team wants from his position. He is also very physical and has no problem dropping the gloves when the need arises.
With excellent mobility, good vision and no obvious weaknesses, Reinhart will fit in perfectly with Winnipeg at No. 9.
Team: Jokerit (Fin)
Height/Weight: 5'10"/161 lbs.
While Tampa Bay will certainly want to focus on its defense, with two picks in the first 20, it can afford to be a little flexible.
With the very impressive Teuvo Teravainen sitting here at No. 10, would the Lightning really pass him up and allow their Southeast Division rival Washington grab him at No. 11?
I don't think so.
Teravainen has great speed and is deadly in the slot. Watch the video, and you will see what I mean. He just does not miss when he is between the circles.
Obviously, his size and weight are going to raise some red flags for many general managers.
But with the skill set he has, Teravainen would be a great investment for a team, like the Lightning, looking to add depth and explosiveness on the wing.
Team: Kitchener (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/183 lbs.
With great size and even better acceleration, Radek Faksa is a center who the Caps will be happy to add to replace some of the offense likely to be lost with the departure of Alexander Semin.
This youngster is an absolute sniper and loves to crash the net.
He also has good height, although he would certainly benefit from putting on some more muscle.
All around, Faksa would add another scoring threat, and some physicality, to the Caps on offense.
Team: Ottawa (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 2"/203 lbs.
Buffalo is another team with two picks in the first round, so it has some flexibility as to how it wants to fill its needs.
The consensus is that Buffalo will want to go offense and then defense, but I believe the Sabres will see the talent that Cody Ceci brings to the table and jump all over it.
Big, fast and with an absolute Howitzer for a slap shot, Ceci is a stellar defensive prospect.
In looking at his prospect profile at MyNHLDraft.com, most scouts feel Ceci demonstrates very good hockey knowledge and insight but needs to be more physical.
At 6'2" and 203 pounds, if Ceci wants to get more physical, he should be more than capable of doing so.
He may need some more time in the OHL to round out his game, but Ceci will be a fine fit in Buffalo as the Sabres work on strengthening their defense.
Team: London (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/198 lbs.
The Stars need help in several places—and they will find it in Olli Maatta.
Maatta, as noted on the video, actually played in the Finnish pro league. That experience could make him very appealing to a team like Dallas.
If there are concerns surrounding Maatta, it may be due to his having sustained a concussion earlier in the year.
As noted by MyNHLDraft.com, there is some desire for Maatta to be more physical. Much like with Ceci, that should not be a problem considering his height and weight.
Despite some minor concerns, all signs point to Maatta being an excellent defenseman. He is a good skater and does not make mental errors.
A solid pickup for the Stars at No. 13.
Team: Dubuque (USHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 2"/175 lbs.
With the Flames needing help everywhere, but having only one pick in the first two rounds, they need to make this one count.
They will be pleased with this selection at No. 14.
Zemgus Girgensons was a scoring sensation in the USHL, averaging close to a point per game.
With excellent speed and great hands, Girgensons has excellent potential to be a two-way center.
It would appear, however, that he is a few years away from being ready for the big time.
Still, he has tremendous upside, and once he is ready for the NHL, he has all the skills necessary to be an impact player for the Flames.
Team: Portland (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/192 lbs.
While Ottawa looks to be pretty well set on offense, the Senators will probably try and make their defense even better.
With Erik Karlsson now having won the Norris Trophy, adding a player to complement him should have Senators fans believing they can improve on their surprising playoff run this past season.
Picking up Derrick Pouliot at No. 15 will help.
As you will note from the video, Pouliot has a nose for the net, exercises very good patience and is quite accurate.
From what I can also tell, he has deceptive speed, can run the power play very efficiently and has good hands.
He is not yet big enough, though, and will need to bulk up to survive the daily grind of the NHL.
But adding Pouliot to a blossoming defensive corps should help the Senators win quite a few more games this season.
Team: Rogle (Swe)
Height/Weight: 6' 1"/198 lbs.
Having addressed an offensive position earlier, the Caps will shift their focus to defense and draft Hampus Lindholm at No. 16.
Lindholm had a very good combine, and his stock rose as a result.
As can be seen from the video, Lindholm has good strength and carries himself with a level of maturity and confidence that most general managers will appreciate.
If you review his profile at DraftSite.com, you will learn a bit more about how Lindholm has good mobility and agility for his size and that most people feel he will get bigger and stronger.
While Lindholm will probably not be an immediate impact player, he is another available defender with great upside potential for the not-too-distant future, and something on which the Caps can build.
Team: Frolunda HC (Swe)
Height/Weight: 5'11"/174 lbs.
While many mock drafts I have seen have the Sharks going with a blueliner here, it is worth noting that it was not really the Sharks defense that failed it against St. Louis in the playoffs. It was the offense—or lack thereof—that let San Jose down.
To address this, the Sharks will draft Sebastian Collberg .
Collberg was a key reason Sweden took gold at the World Junior Championships.
He has great speed and is a natural scorer with a fantastic wrist shot. He compares very favorably to Filip Forsberg, who I have going to the Islanders at No. 4.
It would have been nice if Collberg had more ice time to look at on film, but his performance at the World Junior Championships was enough to make anyone take notice.
He may be a bit on the smaller side, and he has indicated his desire to remain in Sweden for a while longer.
Still, he will bring a ton of speed, skill and excitement to the Sharks once he is ready.
Team: Belleville (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/205 lbs.
Chicago will be absolutely thrilled to find Brendan Gaunce still available for it at No. 18.
At 6'2" and 205 pounds, Gaunce has everything you would want in a center, and he can play wing too if the need arises.
He is strong, very difficult to knock off the puck, is not afraid to drop the gloves and has a great shot.
According to Adam Kimmelman at NHL.com, one scout has said if he were building a team from the ground up, Gaunce would be where he would start.
That is quite an endorsement.
Gaunce will need some additional time in the OHL. But once Gaunce makes his debut, Blackhawks fans will be very happy about this pick.
Team: Guelph (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0" /200 lbs.
Having semi-stolen Teravainen with the No. 10 pick, the Lightning will now shift their focus to defense and draft Matthew Finn, another excellent defensive prospect who has shown a ton of potential to be a scoring threat as well.
He has good size and strength, is solid on the penalty kill and can quarterback the power play very well.
His profile card at MyNHLDraft.com discusses his leadership abilities, and the fact that he was named assistant captain for home games demonstrates this.
Finn probably needs to develop a more physical presence and learn to be a bit more effective at moving bodies out of the way.
Nevertheless, Finn will add some needed depth and skill to the Lightning's defense.
Team: Plymouth (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'4"/195 lbs.
When I watch video of Tom Wilson, it is very easy to imagine him in a Flyers uniform.
He is big, physical, always looking to crush someone and he loves to get into the dirty areas to cash in on rebounds and loose pucks.
No, Wilson won't lead the league in goals, but he might rank near the top in fights and penalty minutes. He will be a modern-day version of the Broad Street Bullies—and the Flyers' faithful will love him.
While many mock drafts have the Flyers going defense here, I think Wilson is such a natural fit for Philly that they won't pass him up.
Team: Slavia (Cze)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/200 lbs.
Having addressed their defense earlier, the Sabres will use their second first-round draft pick to address their offense.
Tomas Hertl is possibly the best prospect from the Czech Republic this year.
He really improved his stock during the World Junior Championships in a surprising run for the Czech Republic.
He has very good hands, knows how to use his size effectively and can play center or on the wing.
With excellent vision and a very balanced game, Hertl will improve the Sabres offense.
Team: Peterborough (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 2"/183 lbs.
After having their defensive shortcomings exposed in the playoffs, the Penguins will address that by drafting Slater Koekkoek, an excellent defensive prospect who was a standout for Peterborough of the OHL.
Koekkoek has a lot of things going for him. He is not afraid to get down and dirty and is an excellent shot blocker.
When you watch the video clip, you also have to be impressed with this young man's candor and his obvious desire to be the best he can be, sentiments echoed by his coach.
He is a solid skater who knows how to get himself into the best position possible.
Due to a shoulder injury that caused him to miss 40 games, Koekkoek has slid down many teams' draft charts, so much so that he did not even receive an invitation to the NHL's Research and Development camp.
If the Pens can grab him at No. 22, he would make a great addition to a Pittsburgh team that needs to improve defensively.
Team: USA U-18
Height/Weight: 6'1"/183 lbs.
The Panthers will be looking to improve defensively, and they will do so by drafting Brady Skjei.
Skjei is one of the better skaters among defenders available in the draft.
He can be a good two-way defender who knows how to play defense, but also knows how to create opportunities for his team.
He will be an excellent fit on a Florida team that looks very capable of defending its Southeast Division crown.
Team: USNTDP (USHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 1"/207 lbs.
Despite a disappointing first-round exit this past season, the Bruins remain one of the deeper teams in the NHL.
They will add to that depth by drafting Stefan Matteau, a big, very physical winger who knows how to get himself into position for deflections and rebounds.
Matteau is another player who won't likely win the Art Ross trophy, but his solid all-around play might help the Bruins win an even more important trophy—the Stanley Cup.
And don't think the Bruins wouldn't like to deny the Rangers the opportunity to draft the son of a player who scored one of the most iconic goals in Rangers' history.
Team: Djurgardens (Swe)
Height/Weight: 5'11"/187 lbs.
Looking to become even more offensively dynamic, the Blues will select Pontus Aberg, who should fit in nicely with St. Louis.
He is a playmaker who makes things happens with his hands and his skates, and he possesses a lightning-quick and deadly accurate wrist shot.
His speed, and the effortless way in which he reaches top speed, is also something that should be quite appealing to the Blues.
With his accuracy and skating ability, he is someone who would be a great asset in shootouts, as evidenced by one of the goals in the video.
Aberg will be a solid addition to the Blues at No. 25.
Team: Kelowna (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/193 lbs.
If you take the time to watch the draft profile in this slide, you will learn that Colton Sissons models his play style after Ryan Kesler and Mike Richards.
With no glaring weaknesses to worry too much about, the Canucks will bolster their ranks by adding someone who could very well be a younger version of Kessler.
Sissons plays the game the way it should be played, with passion and skill.
He is very difficult to knock off the puck and has good leadership qualities, as he was the captain for Kelowna the past season.
A perfect fit for the Canucks at No. 26.
Team: Saskatoon (WHL)
Ht/Wt: 6'0"/195 lbs.
Dalton Thrower certainly likes to "throw down," but there is more to this talented defenseman than just his fighting ability.
He sees the ice very well, plays without any fear and has sneaky scoring skill.
His toughness, grit and determination is just what the Coyotes need to get to the next level in what figures to be a tough Western Conference next season.
Team: Oshawa (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/170 lbs.
Scott Laughton will be a great pick up for the Rangers at No. 28.
If you review his profile at MyNHLDraft.com, he has all the qualities that the Blueshirts are looking for.
A physical player with exceptional work ethic who will just flat outwork you?
John Tortorella is going to love that.
Laughton needs to become more adept at scoring goals, but his versatility will make him a good fit for the Rangers.
Team: Belleville (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 1"/178 lbs.
Though Martin Brodeur has said that he is leaning toward not retiring, the Devils will still take a step towards securing their future by drafting the best North American goaltender available in the draft.
Malcolm Subban can do it all between the pipes. With great range, excellent post-to-post mobility, a good blocker pad and an even better glove side, Subban is someone who will fit in perfectly with New Jersey, particularly with some tutelage from one of the all-time greats.
Some critics note that Subban has to work on his rebound control, and he needs to get better at dealing with screens, but again, this is an area where Brodeur can help.
By taking Subban at No. 29, the Devils take a big step towards making sure the franchise does not lose a step when Brodeur eventually decides to step aside.
Team: Barrie (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/195 lbs.
Fresh off of their romp to the Stanley Cup, the Los Angeles Kings can be really picky about what they do with the final pick of the first round.
The Kings will select Tanner Pearson, an excellent all-around winger who, as noted in the video profile, does not know what the word "quit" means.
He has excellent vision, above-average intelligence and knows how to get himself in the best position possible on a nightly basis.
If the Kings do end up losing Dustin Penner in free agency, Pearson is the type of player who could step in and fill that role quite nicely.
Team: Ufa-2 (RUS-JR.)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/193 lbs.
With the first pick of the second round, the Blue Jackets will be faced with a decision as to which direction to go.
With Columbus also holding the 45th pick in the draft, and with the Rick Nash situation likely to bring in some valuable assets, I think Columbus takes a chance here and drafts the man several are calling the best available goalie in the draft.
As demonstrated by the video clip, Vasilevski has great range and flexibility. He also demonstrates good rebound control, something essential for anyone trying to make it as goaltender in the NHL.
No one can be sure exactly how long Vasilevski might remain in Russia, or if he will ever come to the NHL.
But if he does, this would be a great pick for the Blue Jackets.
Team: Dubuque (USHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 1"/180 lbs
Having addressed its offensive issues with the No. 1 overall pick, the Oilers will go defense with their second-round pick by taking Mike Matheson of the USHL.
By his own admission in the video, Matheson loves to jump into the offensive zone and try and create offense—and there is nothing wrong with that as far as the Oilers are concerned.
Matheson also skates quite well.
The concern with Matheson is what is stated in his draft profile on DraftSite.com—many question his mental toughness, especially when the game is on the line.
That is something Matheson will have to fix, but his upside potential is great enough that this should be a solid pick for Edmonton.
Team: Edmonton (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 2"/195 lbs.
Montreal will continue its offensive overhaul here with the 33rd pick, and when it finds Samuelsson available, it will be absolutely giddy.
The son of Ulf Samuelsson, Henrik is a big body tailor-made for a power forward, and he has that physical, grinding style that the Habs have been looking for.
He plays a solid three-zone game, and while he won't dazzle anyone with his speed, his bruising style of play and tenacity will be a great fit for the Canadiens.
Team: Green Bay (USHL)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/175 lbs.
With their second-round pick, the Islanders will work on improving their defense by selecting Jordan Schmaltz of the USHL.
What Schmalz might lack in sheer size and mass, he more than makes up for in terms of pure skill. Schmaltz also has a cannon for a shot that will be ideal for the power play.
He reads plays well and has a great deal of potential.
A good pickup for the Isles at No. 34.
Team: Stanstead College (QC)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/170 lbs.
The Maple Leafs will look to expand on the offensive improvement they made in the first round by selecting Mark Jankowski.
Jankowski is one of those players who might be a dark horse, as he has been flying under the radar on some mock drafts.
He is very competitive, yet unselfish with the puck.
He has good speed, good hands and very good all-around skill.
He might not be the flashiest pick here, but he will be a solid addition for the Leafs as they build for the future.
Team: Halifax (QMJHL)
Ht/Wt: 6'0"/198 lbs.
Folks in Anaheim will love this pick at No. 36.
Martin Frk seamlessly blends patience and tenacity—a tough trick to pull off most of the time.
If you review his draft card at MyNHLDraft.com you will note that there are some concerns as to his level of commitment this past season with Halifax.
The more I studied him, however, I think he is just a guy ready to take the next step.
An absolute sleeper and a fantastic pick for the Ducks at No. 36.
Team: Michigan (CCHA)
Ht/Wt: 5'11"/175 lbs.
With their first pick in the draft, the Predators will look to add some scoring potential to their arsenal by drafting Michigan's Phillip DiGiuseppe.
DiGiuseppe has very good speed, excellent hands and is difficult to knock off the puck.
He is also somewhat of a puck magnet—and when the puck finds him, good things tend to happen.
He will have to bulk up a bit, but not so much as to sacrifice speed.
Overall, a good pick for the Preds at No. 37.
Team: Prince Albert (WHL)
Height/Weight: 5'11"/170 lbs.
After having gone in a bit of a different direction in the first round, the Hurricanes will look to improve their offense by selecting Mike Winther of the WHL.
Winther is a smart and determined player who should fit in well in Carolina.
He is very versatile and plays forward just as well as center—perhaps even better—although most sites are listing him as a center.
According to TheHockeyWriters.com, Winther was tabbed as the best draft eligible forward in the WHL by TSN's Craig Button.
Not a bad stamp of approval at all for the 38th pick in the draft.
Team: Brynas IF (SEL)
Height/Weight: 6' 2"/185 lbs.
With negotiations between the Jets and Ondrej Pavelec in a state of flux, I think the Jets do something smart at No. 39 and snatch the best goalie from Sweden available in this draft.
Oscar Dansk is a tremendous butterfly goalie with a ton of quality experience for someone so young.
He does not get rattled, has very good rebound control and will make you beat him.
If negotiations go south with Pavelec, Dansk is the type of goalie who can step right in and make a difference for Winnipeg.
If negotiations with Pavelec go smoothly, then Dansk makes for a great backup, if not someone who might be able to beat out Pavelec for the No. 1 goalie job.
Team: US Under 18 (USAH-NTDP)
Height/Weight: 6'1"/183 lbs.
Having put together an excellent first round, the Lightning will use their only second-round pick on Nicolas Kerdiles.
Kerdiles is a very well-rounded center who can play forward as well.
He is exceptionally strong, is very good at puck control and deceptively mobile.
Although Tampa Bay won't really need him in a top-six type of role, he has that potential for the future.
The Lightning will cap a very solid first two rounds of the draft with this pick.
Team: Karpat Oulu (SM-liiga)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/192 lbs.
With their only pick in the first two rounds of the draft, the Avalanche will opt to improve their defense by drafting Finland's Ville Pokka.
Pokka is a gritty, determined two-way defender who enjoys contributing on the offensive side of the rink.
Pokka put together a good showing at the combine, and his stock rose some as a result.
He is a very good all-around player who seems to be getting better all the time.
Colorado makes its only pick in the first two rounds count by making a smart pick here.
Team: Guelph (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 0"/182 lbs.
With two of the next three picks in the draft, the Sabres are in a great position.
They will make the first of those picks count by drafting Scott Kosmachuk of the OHL.
Kosmachuk is a player whose stock seems to rise a bit more every day.
Kosmachuk is one of those players who loves to park himself in front of the net and gobble up anything left lying around.
This two-way right wing has great speed and demonstrates an excellent forecheck.
He has some work to do before he is truly ready to tackle the big dogs of the NHL, but he has all the tools necessary to be a big success for the Sabres.
Team: Modo Hockey (SEL)
Height/Weight: 6' 0"/190 lbs.
The Stars will continue their defensive reconstruction by drafting Ludvig Bystrom.
Bystrom is a good skater with good vision and who knows how to distribute the puck.
A smart skater who does not make a lot of mental errors, Bystrom still needs to fine-tune his game.
But after taking Maatta in the first round, Bystrom will give the Stars another solid blueliner to build around.
Team: Windsor (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/173 lbs.
All you have to do is watch the video in this slide, and you will see why the Sabres will be very pleased with this pick.
Patrick Sieloff is one of those fearless players you love to have on defense. Watch the video a couple of times, and you will see him going from side to side, trying to get down and block shots.
It also doesn't hurt that Sieloff is exceptional at delivering the open-ice hit and enjoys punishing opponents against the wall.
He too must add some mass to his frame.
Still, Buffalo will walk away from the first two rounds with four solid picks, all of whom can help the Sabres get to that next level.
Team: Saskatoon (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6' 1"/205 lbs.
Having already addressed defense and goaltending, the Blue Jackets will shift their focus to offense and get a solid player in Lukas Sutter.
Another player with NHL family roots, Sutter is a very physical forward who actually seems to put more emphasis on defense than offense.
He is quick to jump to the defense of teammates or to back up his own actions with his fists.
In the WHL, he seemed to spend as much time in the penalty box as he was on the ice.
Obviously, Sutter will need to cut down on that in the NHL.
But his physical play and his sheer determination will make him a good pick for Columbus at No. 45.
Team: Kent School
Height/Weight: 6'2"/185 lbs.
If you watch the goal scored by Cristoval "Boo" Nieves in the video included in this slide, you will see what the Wild will probably see: a goal scorer with great one-on-one moves that can be creative and dynamic.
He is raw, but he possesses a lot of talent and glides over the ice with his stride.
At times, he kicks it into another gear and blows by players. With his size, he is also very hard to knock off the puck.
It will take some time to fully flesh out his game, but the Wild will still reap the benefits of this pick when he is ready.
Team: Kamloops (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6'1"/178 lbs.
The Hurricanes will continue to work on their offense by selecting Tim Bozon at No. 47.
An opportunistic goal scorer with breakaway speed and equally good accuracy, Bozon will be a definite improvement to Carolina's offense.
Initially, there was some concern over how well Bozon would transition to the smaller NHL rink after having spent his previous several years playing overseas.
Apparently, he transitioned quite well.
Nevertheless, he still needs to learn the finer points of NHL hockey, something that will probably come with time.
For the Hurricanes, the 47th pick in the draft has loads of potential, and Bozon, combined with Winther, will give the 'Canes something to build on for the future.
Team: Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/160 lbs.
This pick will likely not surprise Blackhawks fans at all.
Chicago, not nearly content with relying on Corey Crawford any longer, will look to the draft to try and address this issue.
In Matt Murray, Chicago will get a solid, big body in net who knows how to use his size to his advantage.
He keeps himself square to the net and does not give his opposition much to shoot at.
Murray is not a big risk taker and likes to stay at home and do what he is paid to do, protect the net.
Murray turned in a spectacular performance at the World Under-18 hockey championships, helping lead Canada to a bronze medal.
This will be a strong pick for Chicago—and one who could be the answer in net for the 'Hawks.
Team: Belleville (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/195 lbs.
The Red Wings will finally get to pick in the 2012 NHL draft, and they will grab a good one in Danill Zharkov.
Zharkov has great speed, is exceptionally elusive and knows how to finish a scoring opportunity.
He is very good as a setup man and is not shy about dropping the gloves when need dictates.
With Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement, the Red Wings will likely go through a bit of a transition period this coming season, and adding Zharkov will help make that transition a smooth one.
Team: Sodertalje SK (Allsvenskan)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/201 lbs.
Nashville will look for another top-six forward with the 50th pick in the draft.
Emil Lundberg might be what it is looking for.
With great size and strength, Lundberg's effort and work ethic are excellent.
If there is a knock on Lundberg, it is that he does not really stand out as to any one thing. I am not sure how being a team player can be a bad thing.
Still, Lundberg loves to crash the net and would add some more physicality for the Preds as they continue their climb in the Western Conference.
Team: Owen Sound (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/170 lbs.
The Canadiens will conclude their offensive onslaught from the first two rounds by picking up a promising prospect in Jarrod Maidens.
Maidens has demonstrated good vision, good patience and the ability to let a play develop around him.
He has also shown himself to be a strong skater, who is difficult to knock off the puck and who plays well in all three zones.
If there is a concern about Maidens and a reason he has slipped down many draft boards, it would be suspicions that he suffered a concussion that has not been disclosed.
Maidens missed significant playing time as a result of whatever injury he might have had.
Still, there is enough raw talent here for the Habs to feel good about grabbing him at No. 51.
Team: Penza Dizel (Vysshaya)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/160 lbs.
Anton Slepyshev is a very promising Russian prospect who brings a lot to the table.
The problem is that he has two years left on his contract in Russia, so it will be a while before we see him don a NHL jersey.
As such, the team that selects him will have to be patient.
Pittsburgh fits the bill here, as it does not need an immediate offensive difference maker.
But good things come to those who wait, and Slephyshev is an excellent skater with a lightning-quick release. He is good on the power play and equally effective on the penalty kill.
He is certainly on the light side, and it is hoped that during the two extra years he will spend in Russia, he will add on some muscle.
In the end, though, pairing Slepyshev with Malkin or Crosby is a frightening thought—unless you are a Penguins fan of course.
Team: London (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/165 lbs.
At No. 53, the Panthers will shift their focus to offense and will draft Andreas Athanasiou.
Athanasiou has good speed, decent puck control and some jaw-dropping skills as far as one-on-one moves are concerned.
If you watch the video clip, you will see him performing some pretty good tricks, demonstrating very good hand/eye coordination.
He is also none too shy about crunching someone into the boards if the opportunity presents himself.
Athanasiou is a solid and useful pick for Florida at No. 53.
Team: Windsor (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'1"/190 lbs.
The Capitals ended up with this pick just recently, and they will use it to bolster the offense, which is expected to take a hit once Alexander Semin leaves via free agency.
At No. 54, the Caps will select Brady Vail.
Vail is another of those players who can be called "well-rounded."
He is not great at any one thing, but he is a solid two-way forward, and if the Caps are going to continue in the direction they were heading during the playoffs, an effective winger who can also play defense is just what they are looking for.
Team: Kelowna (WHL)
Height/Weight: 6'1"/175 lbs.
Having obtained the very skilled Sebastian Collberg in the first round, the Sharks will use their compensatory pick to improve their defense.
Damon Severson, another in an abundance of quality blueliners coming in from the WHL this year, is a big defender who has quietly developed his two-way game rather nicely.
He has no problems dropping the gloves and demonstrates good gap control.
He is not the best skater in the world and could best be described as streaky as far as offensive production is concerned.
He is another defender who does not make a lot of mistakes, and that will help the Sharks win more hockey games.
Team: Frolunda HC (SEL)
Height/Weight: 5'11"/160 lbs.
It has to be rough to be named Erik Karlsson and not be the standout defenseman for the Ottawa Senators who just won the Norris Trophy.
Just trying to find an image of the Erik Karlsson was nearly impossible.
But in the immortal words of Yoda, "There is another."
The Erik Karlsson who will get drafted by the Blues at No. 56 is a very good prospect playing for Frolunda.
He has great speed, excellent net presence and uncanny accuracy.
He does need to add some size and strength, and some sites have questioned his stamina.
Adding him to the mix with Pontus Aberg will only make the rapidly improving Blues even more potent on offense.
If this Erik Karlsson is half as good as the Senators' Erik Karlsson, then the Blues will be very happy with this pick.
Team: Mississauga (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/169 lbs.
At No. 57, the Canucks will shift gears and look for some defensive help in the form of Trevor Carrick.
Carrick may be a lightweight on the scales, but you would never know it by the way he plays.
Carrick is not really a two way player—at least not yet—but he is a very good defenseman. He is also an exceptional skater.
He will almost certainly improve, and as such, this will be a good investment for the Canucks.
Team: Phillips Exeter Academy
Height/Weight: 6'1"/195 lbs.
The Coyotes will look to solidify their future by selecting high school phenom Brian Hart.
Hart, who is equally good at soccer, emerged as a top-flight player for Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
He has good size and knows how to use it. And once he gets going, he is very difficult to stop.
He has good patience and a good shot to go with that patience.
Hart is one to watch as he matures and improves over the next year or two.
A smart pick by the Coyotes at No. 58.
Team: Regina (WHL)
Height/Weight: 5'9"/170 lbs
Chandler Stephenson is someone who knows he is on the shorter side and just does not care.
He plays fearlessly, consistently wading in against bigger players and making plays.
He has exceptional speed, and he knows how to cycle the puck effectively.
He will be a work in progress, but he has all the intangibles that the Rangers look for.
A good project for the Rangers at No. 59.
Team: Guelph (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0"/177 lbs.
The Devils will likely be surprised, and pleased, to find Tanner Richard still available at No. 60.
Richard had to deal with some injuries last year, and that may have effected his draft standing a bit.
If he remains healthy, though, then this might just be a steal for the Devils.
Richard plays like a guy who weighs 10-15 pounds more than he actually does. He is actively working on adding some mass to his frame.
With his skills and his one-on-one moves, if Richard does get bigger and stronger, then this will be a great pick up for New Jersey.
Team: London (OHL)
Height/Weight: 5'10"/186 lbs.
The final pick of the second round, and the final slide of this article, belongs to the Dallas Stars.
After focusing on defense with their first two picks, the Stars will go with Seth Griffith, a dynamic and dangerous goal scorer from the OHL.
Griffith is a natural playmaker who can score or set up someone else to deal damage.
He needs to become a better skater and, in a familiar refrain, needs to get stronger and bigger.
But if he can do that, he could be a great fit in Dallas for the not-too-distant future.