2012 NHL Mock Draft: Top Forwards from European Leagues Worthy of Early Picks

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2012

It's time to spread some international love in the 2012 NHL mock drafts.

Sure, there are plenty of foreign players in North American leagues that will be high selections at this draft. But what about those players lighting it up in Europe that you may not be familiar with?

What's the deal with those guys?

Luckily for you, I found out the deal for three of the top prospects from the European leagues, and I'm going to share that deal with you. Let's get mocking, people.


1. Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov, LW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Yakupov has too much talent to ignore if the Oilers keep this pick. Yes, defense is a bigger need, but you always take the top available talent regardless of position when you've got the top slot.


2. Columbus Blue Jackets: Filip Forsberg, LW, Leksands IF (Allsvenkan)

The Blue Jackets have options, but I love power forward Forsberg at this slot.

Forsberg is just as capable of setting a screen or stuffing a goal in front of the net as he is barreling up the ice on the rush and ripping a shot from the circle past the goalie.

Plus, who can't get behind a prospect with the last name of "Forsberg." It evokes wonderful memories of that other Forsberg guy.

The Blue Jackets can't go wrong here with a slew of worthy picks, but I think Forsberg's skill set will be too hard to pass up.


3. Montreal Canadiens: Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec Remparts (QJMHL)

While I think the Canadiens might try to sneak up the board to select Yakupov, they will be getting an excellent and complete offensive weapon if they stay here and select Grigorenko.


4. New York Islanders: Ryan Murray, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Murray does all of the little things well, and so effortlessly that you may not even notice him on the ice at times. He's a safe pick and could go as high as No. 1 to Edmonton.


5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarina Sting (OHL)

Galchenyuk could be off the board as high as No. 2. If he slips to this pick, the Maple Leafs—desperately in need of young, playmaking forwards—will snatch him up immediately.


6. Anaheim Ducks: Matthew Dumba, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

He's a two-way defenseman who flies around the ice, and is as likely to slap a shot past the goalie as he is to crush an opponent into the boards. He'll be fun to watch.


7. Minnesota Wild: Jacob Trouba, D, USNDTP (USHL)

Trouba is a two-way defenseman who combines a big frame with excellent skating ability.


8. Carolina Hurricanes: Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Like Trouba before him, Reinhart combines a physical presence with finesse when operating from the point.


9. Winnipeg Jets: Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Rielly's creativity and composure running the point make him one of the most dangerous offensive weapons out of the defensemen in this draft. This is an excellent draft for blue-liners early on.


10. Tampa Bay Lightning: Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Jokerit Helsinki (SM-Liiga)

His favorite player growing up was Teemu Selanne, and if he plays anything like his idol, the Lightning will be quite pleased with this selection.

He'll probably never reach such lofty heights, but he does bring a lot of speed and creativity to the wing position. If he and Martin St. Louis ever see the ice together, they'll certainly make Tampa Bay live up to the "Lightning" nickname.


11. Washington Capitals (from Colorado Avalanche): Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville Bulls (OHL)

They should look to add forwards with Alexander Semin departing town, but with a solid, two-way center available, the Caps should resist getting too cute with a flashy winger and add the steady Gaunce instead.


12. Buffalo Sabres: Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa 67s (OHL)

Ceci could just as easily sneak into the top 10. If he's here, Buffalo should snatch him off the board quickly.


13. Dallas Stars: Radek Faksa, C/W, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

He was good for 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) for OHL side Kitchener in just 62 games last season. Not too shabby, huh?


14. Calgary Flames: Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

Gotta love a team with the name "Fighting Saints," just like you have to love a big, skilled center with a goalscoring habit.


15. Ottawa Senators: Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle (Allsvenskan)

He had 30 points in 49 total games as a defenseman this past season. Not too shabby for a blue-liner, eh?

I think the scouting report from McKeen's Hockey sums him up nicely:

“Lindholm is a multi-purpose defender whose skills are suited for both sides of the ice. He has the innate ability to control the tempo of the game and will also push the pace of the game if he feels he needs to pick his team up… His offensive game is highlighted by quick, accurate passes that he snaps off his blade. The velocity in which he delivers his passes is NHL elite.”


16. Washington Capitals: Olli Maatta, D, London Knights (OHL)

The Capitals will be getting a real steal here if the board falls this way, as Maatta is another possible top-10 pick. Gotta love this draft for the Caps.


17. San Jose Sharks: Sebastian Collberg, RW, Vastra Frolunda HC (SEL)

He's the classic raw-with-huge-upside prospect that is worth a gamble with the 17th pick. He's not big, but he can fly on the ice. He needs to add strength, but he's got skill to spare.


18. Chicago Blackhawks: Pontus Aberg, LW, Djurgardens IF Stockholm (SEL)

Aberg is a shifty, aggressive sniper that is a bit of a project, but like Collberg before him oozes with potential.


19. Tampa Bay Lightning: Matt Finn, D, Guelph Storm (OHL)

He's your standard two-way defenseman who has 50-point potential at the next level. Wait a second, that sort of production isn't standard at all...


20. Philadelphia Flyers: Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Here is your Philadelphia Flyers draft strategy this year: Take the top available defenseman. Rinse and repeat.


21. Buffalo Sabres (from Nashville Predators): Tom Wilson, RW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

My favorite fun fact about Wilson comes from his bio at NHL.com: "He was voted as the ‘Best Body Checker’ in the OHL’s 2012 Western Conference Coaches Poll and was a runner up for the ‘Hardest Worker’ distinction."


22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

He scored 59 points in 72 games last season for Portland. That's fantastic offensive output for a defenseman regardless of what level of hockey it comes from.


23. Florida Panthers: Brady Skjei, D, USNDTP (USHL)

He moves well on his skates and processes the game quickly from a mental standpoint. He'll fit in nicely in Florida.


24. Boston Bruines: Dalton Thrower, D, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

He's rising up boards after he scored 54 points with 18 goals in 66 games, nearly tripling his previous high. Plus, he's got a good hockey name. That is all.


25. St. Louis Blues: Stefan Matteau, C, USNDTP (USHL)

I like my centers to be tough, physical facilitators who can score goals as well. Hence, I like Matteau.


26. Vancouver Canucks: Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

At worst, he'll be on a checking line at the next level. At best, he's a two-way power forward that scores 20-25 goals a year.


27. Phoenix Coyotes: Tim Bozon, LW, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Ray Whitney and Shane Doan may depart in free agency. The Coyotes should be looking to restock the roster with talented wingers this offseason.


28. New York Rangers: Andrey Vasilevski, G, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)

Our first goalie probably comes off the board here. By the time Vasilevski is actually NHL ready, the Rangers will probably need a replacement for Henrik Lundqvist waiting in the wings.


29. New Jersey Devils: Malcolm Subban, G, Belleville (OHL)

Because Martin Brodeur is far older than he plays, it's time to start thinking about replacing Marty, sad as it will be to see him eventually go.


30. Los Angeles Kings: Tomas Hertl, C, HC Slavia Praha (Czech)

Herti is a two-way forward who will contribute to an already potent Kings' forecheck. Some folks may note that he lays the "Hertl" on his opponents, but I won't stoop to such levels.


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