NHL Draft 2012: 5 Teams That Will Be Busiest During the First Round

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst IJune 22, 2012

NHL Draft 2012: 5 Teams That Will Be Busiest During the First Round

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    There is no better word to describe the first round of the NHL Draft.

    By the television program guide, Friday's festivities are a mere two-hour event. But, in truth, the frenzy of rumors, trades, picks and prospects of the first round make for a day of excitement and activity immeasurable by time.

    That's all well and good for most, but for the league's 30 general managers, it makes for a 24-hour period of endless stress, busyness and Advil dosages.

    Of course, no GM will be getting much rest Friday evening, but a few will have agendas even larger than the rest.

    From heavily-negotiated trades to crucial draft selections, these five general managers—and every other staff member of their respective teams—won't be getting a moment to rest during tonight's first round chaos.

Buffalo Sabres

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    Selections: No. 12 and No. 21

    With four picks in the draft's first 44 selections and two in Friday's first round, the Sabres have perhaps the most promising portfolio of selections of any NHL team.

    The team, which finished a disappointing ninth in 2011-2012, is looking to add power and talent to their group of forwards.

    GM Darcy Regier could look to fill those holes with his two first-round picks. Big, strong centers Radek Faksa (6'3', 203 lbs.) and Brendan Gaunce (6'2", 215 lbs.) are likely to fall near the Sabres' 12th overall choice, while the 21st selection could be used on prospects such as RW Thomas Wilson (6'4", 203 lbs.) or C Zemgus Girgensons (6'2", 198 lbs.).

    On the other hand, Regier may also be interested in using his high-end pick surplus to spawn a trade. The Buffalo GM indicated serious interest in the possibility in an ESPN interview Wednesday:

    "We’d like to [make a trade]. We view it as an opportunity because of the additional first-round pick and the additional second-round pick. We’ve got some flexibility. So we’re approaching this as, 'Let’s see if we can find some opportunities with this flexibility.' Right now, though, the costs seem to be on the high side. But we’ll see where it goes." 

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Selection: No. 8

    No team has been more active in this month's trade rumors than the Carolina Hurricanes.

    The 'Canes have recently been connected to Rick Nash by a number of sources. When TSN's Bob McKenzie announced Tuesday that Bobby Ryan was back on the market, the Hurricanes were in on that, too.

    Of all of the possibilities, however, Pittsburgh forward Jordan Staal seems like the most likely acquisition.

    The brother of 'Canes captain Eric Staal is a talented forward who could help to fill out Carolina's top line, and, after months of rumors, the scorer's future could finally be reaching Judgement Day. As reports Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi via Twitter:

    Source close to talks tells @TribSports that Staal has not ruled out remaining w/ #pens but would talk contract if traded to #canes

    — Rob Rossi (@RobRossi_Trib) June 21, 2012

    On the other hand, if the 'Canes do keep their eighth overall pick, they'll have a number of potential options—including Finnish winger Teuvo Teravainen and Kitchener Rangers' center Radek Faksa—to consider.

Washington Capitals

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    Selections: No. 11 and No. 16

    As reported Stephen Whyno via Twitter, the Capitals—seeking a return to the NHL's elite after a pedestrian seventh-place finish this past season—will hold on to their two top-16 choices and attempt to pick a pair of future stars in the making.

    For NHL draftniks, #Caps' McPhee says he's thinking about keeping 11th, 16th picks, believes he can get difference makers there.

    — Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) June 14, 2012

    Washington could target just about anyone in the mid-first round, given the depth and quality of this year's draft class. The club could try to snatch up defensemen Griffin Reinhart or Jacob Trouba with the 11th selection, or wait for blueliners Olli Maata, Cody Ceci or Hampus Lindholm five picks later.

    Up front, the Caps' could be good fits for flashy playmakers Sebastian Collberg, Tomas Hertl or Pontus Aberg.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Selections: No. 10 and No. 19

    GM Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning already traded away two of their three second-round picks to acquire goaltender Anders Lindback, but they have, so far, retained both of their top-20 first round selections.

    "Today, sitting here, we intend to use the 10th pick. Depending on how that first round goes, we're more flexible with the 19th pick—but, as it stands today...our best option is still sitting with 10 and 19," Yzerman told reporters yesterday (video above). 

    Later, regarding his draft strategy, Yzerman stated simply, "We're going to take the best player available."

    If so, the Bolts' No. 10 choice could fall on the edge of two different tiers. The team could snatch up players like LW Teuvo Teravainen, D Jacob Trouba or, our favorite, D Griffin Reinhart if they slip from the elite group, or instead reach down to grab mid-round players C Brendan Gaunce, D Cody Ceci or LW Sebastian Collberg.

    The 19th pick is a little more up in the air. Youngsters such as forwards Zemgus Girgensons and Pontus Aberg or defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Slater Koekkoek could fall in that range, or the Lightning could seek to deal it off to a team without a first-round pick—currently either Colorado, Detroit or Nashville.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Selection: No. 2

    After losing the draft lottery to Edmonton, the Blue Jackets have slipped to the No. 2 pick—but that won't make GM Scott Howson's Friday night any more relaxing.

    The last-place Jackets will have to choose between elusive Finnish winger Filip Forsberg, solid WHL defenseman Ryan Murray, boom-or-bust Russian youngsters Mikhail Grigorenko and Alex Galchenyuk, or even, if a crazy sequence of events where to occur, consensus No. 1 player Nail Yakupov.

    If the team so chooses, Columbus could claim the No. 30 pick from Los Angeles, too; given that the choice falls as the very last pick of the first round, however, it seems probable that the Jackets will defer that decision to next year.

    Howson will also have to deal with the ongoing Rick Nash trade saga, which could reach a culmination—and hence a resolution—Friday night. The return package for the All-Star winger would likely include at least one first-rounder of its own, opening an even larger plethora of opportunities for Blue Jackets' draft activity. 

    What will the Blue Jackets really do Friday night? We'll just have to wait and see.