2012 NHL Mock Draft: Most Underrated Talents in This Year's First Round
This year's NHL draft features several future All-Stars. Many will be expected, but others will surprise with their productive professional career.
Underrated players have found their niche before. Certain teams fit certain playing styles. Sometimes, players just find a perfect home. Other times, their potential clicks at the opportune time.
Let's lay out the first round and see which teams will find a diamond in the rough.
1. Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov, F, Sarnia
2. Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Murray, D, Everett
Columbus tried to build the franchise around offensive firepower, but that hasn't worked. With Rick Nash possibly on his way out, now is the time to stack up on defense. Murray is a sure thing, and this year's best blue-line prospect.
3. Montreal Canadiens: Mikhail Grigorenko, F, Quebec
Grigorenko is big, physical and has an advanced understanding of the game. He'll help Montreal soon, and will be a No. 1 center for years to come.
4. New York Islanders: Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer
The Islanders have plenty of offensive talent but are thin defensively. Dumba has major upside and a nasty demeanor on the ice.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Galchenyuk, F, Sarnia
Galchenyuk is not ready to play next year, but he could develop into a star in the Maple Leafs' offense. I could call him underrated, but an injury is the only thing putting him there. Talent-wise, he's an explosive offensive player.
6. Anaheim Ducks: Filip Forsberg, F, Leksand
Anaheim receives a gift here. Forsberg is a dynamic offensive player, and he fills a need up the middle. He's another sure thing.
7. Minnesota Wild: Teuvo Teravainen, F, Jokerit
It's a simple equation here. The Wild need scoring, and Teravainen is the best offensive player remaining on the board.
He plays with energy to make up for his size. The 17-year-old Finn may only stand 5'11'', but he uses it to has advantage by squeezing past larger defenders.
He can be pushed around, but in the open ice he's lethal. He has excellent stickhandling, and he makes his teammates better.
Minnesota finds their future leader on offense. He doesn't quite have the hype of a Yakupov, or Forsberg, but he will be a very good player in his own right.
He's the right pick here, and they get him for great value.
8. Carolina Hurricanes: Radek Faksa, F, Kitchener
It doesn't look like Jordan Staal is leaving Pittsburgh, so any ideas of him joining his brother are probably out the window.
Faksa is a prolific scorer; he led all OHL rookies in goals last season.
9. Winnipeg Jets: Jacob Trouba, D, USA U-18
The Jets will have to wait for Trouba to arrive in the NHL (he's playing for University of Michigan this fall), but he is a very skilled player. If they can be patient, he's worth the wait.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning: Olli Maatta, D, London
Maatta will help the Lightning's terrible defense in the future. He has two-way ability because of his heavy shot.
11. Washington Capitals (from COL): Sebastian Collberg, F, Frolunda HC
Collberg adds scoring depth to Washington's squad. He's a bit one-dimensional, but he does his one thing very well.
12. Buffalo Sabres: Brendan Gaunce, F, Belleville
Gaunce is big (6'2'' 215 pounds), and offensively skilled. The Sabres will be grateful for the skill he brings to the table.
13. Dallas Stars: Zemgus Girgensons, F ,Dubuque
The Stars get a player who can help them right away. Girgensons is a grinder who has a nose for the puck. Dallas fans will appreciate his toughness.
14. Calgary Flames: Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa
Calgary grabs a No. 1 defenseman to replace Dion Phaneuf. Ceci is a much different player, but he is an excellent talent. His combination of size and skill will be a great addition to the Flames' lineup.
15. Ottawa Senators: Matthew Finn, D, Guelph
Finn is small (6'0''), but he makes up for it with skill. The Senators will have a very dangerous blue line with he and Erik Karlsson running the point.
This year in the OHL, Finn scored 47 points in 61 games. He has above-average quickness, great knowledge of the game and moves the puck well.
He also has a dangerous shot from the point.
Ottawa will have a to wait a bit, but Finn will be a very good NHL defenseman. People overlook him a bit because of his short stature, but his offensive potential is right there with anyone else.
Senators fans will enjoy their team's power play with Finn running the show.
16. Washington Capitals: Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton
The Capitals are always saturated with talent on offense but thin on the defensive end. Reinhart needs time to mature, but he has big potential.
17. San Jose Sharks: Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland
Puliot is underrated for a lot of the things I mentioned with Finn earlier. He's only 5'11'', but he is incredibly skilled.
In 72 WHL games, he scored 59 points. He's a blast to watch in the open ice because he always has his head up. He's always looking to make the next play, and he has a knack for making it happen.
Pouliot will add a future star to the mix in San Jose. His size pushes him down the draft board, but other teams will regret passing on this superb talent.
Defensemen with his agility and playmaking ability are tough to come by. The Sharks will be smiling about this selection for years.
18. Chicago Blackhawks: Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle
Lindholm's a luxury pick at this point. He doesn't fill a big need, but he has considerable upside on the blue line.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (from DET): Dalton Thrower, D, Saskatoon
Tampa Bay fans will love Thrower's "brawler" attitude. He's small, but scrappy, and capable of scoring points.
20. Philadelphia Flyers: Malcolm Subban, G, Belleville
It's the Flyers. They could always use a goalie. Subban is this year's top netminder, and the Flyers will jump on him. He's years away, but the ceiling is high.
21. Buffalo Sabres (from NSH): Stefan Matteau, F, USNTDP
Matteau plays with an edge Buffalo will love. He's a big, burly offensive player who plays well in the dirty areas. The Sabres will appreciate his high motor.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Brady Skjei, D, USA U-18
The Penguins need a stay-at-home defenseman and Skjei will eventually fit the bill.
Pittsburgh has plenty of offensive skill on the blue line, but Skjei's size (6'3'' 200 pounds) will be welcomed with open arms. He is extremely raw, but the Penguins can afford to wait.
What should the Penguins draft?
Skjei has the skating ability to play in Dan Bylsma's system, and he will eventually provide a nice one-two punch with Simon Despres.
He's not a well-known prospect, and his NHL years are a ways away, but Skjei would fill a major need in Pittsburgh.
Ray Shero should show some patience and take a chance on this future defensive stalwart.
23. Florida Panthers: Tom Wilson, F, Plymouth
The Panthers get a grinder with a mean streak. Expect average goalscoring and above-average penalty minutes from Wilson. He's big, and he's rarely in a good mood.
24. Boston Bruins: Pontus Aberg, F, Djurgardens
Boston makes a solid depth pickup here. Aberg scored 15 points in the Swedish Elite League last season.
25. St. Louis Blues: Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough
Koekkoek adds more depth to an amazing defensive unit. St. Louis can afford to give him time, and Koekkoek will eventually be a solid No. 1 or No. 2, defensive option.
26. Vancouver Canucks: Henrik Samuelsson, C, Edmonton
Samuelsson gives the Canucks' organization a nice piece for the future. He has an accurate shot and will be a great second- or third-line leader.
27. Phoenix Coyotes: Tomas Hertl, F, Slavia
Hertl scored 25 points in the Czech Men's League last season. Phoenix needs playmakers, and his offensive creativity will help towards the future.
28. New York Rangers: Colton Sissons, F, Kelowna
The Rangers will address a need here. Sissons fits the Ranger attitude and is a capable offensive player. He plays with heart and loves to lead.
29. New Jersey Devils: Martin Frk, F, Halifax
The defensive-minded Devils will like Frk's finished product. He has a heavy shot, good hands and handles himself well on the perimeter.
30. Los Angeles Kings: Lukas Sutter, F, Saskatoon
Sutter's father, Daryl, coaches the Kings. This just makes too much sense for me here. His physical mindset will fit the Kings perfectly.
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