2012 NHL Draft Grades: Team-by-Team Report Card and Results
After months of mock drafts and analysis of the top prospects, the 2012 NHL draft is finally here. This is one of the best events in the sport, and fans of every NHL team have reasons to be excited for Friday night.
This is the day that the future stars of hockey will start their NHL journey and celebrate the accomplishment of a goal they have worked toward for their entire lives.
Check back here throughout the draft for up-to-the-minute pick-by-pick results, grades, videos and analysis as the teams make their selections from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
1. Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
The Edmonton Oilers added to their abundance of talent at forward by taking the best player available in this draft in Nail Yakupov of the OHL's Sarnia Sting.
Yakupov's speed and goal scoring ability will make the Oilers offense even more dangerous than they were last season. With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle already on the roster, Edmonton has the best collection of young offensive talent in the NHL.
If Yakupov reaches his full potential, he will be a superstar player for many years.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Murray, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Ryan Murray will help a Columbus Blue Jackets team that struggled to keep pucks out of their net last year. The Blue Jackets had the the third worst GAA last season, and needed a strong defenseman like Murray to be a rock solid player in his own end. Offensively however, Murray won't offer much as a rookie.
With the acquisition of Jack Johnson at the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets are starting to build a blueline that is very talented. Murray should be in the NHL next season, but another year in junior hockey would be the best choice for him.
3. Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
The Montreal Canadiens selected Sarnia Sting center Alex Galchenyuk with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NHL draft, and he will be an offensive star at the center position in the NHL.
Galchenyuk is an exquisite passer and someone who can score goals and dominate on the power play. His consistency as a top line player will give the Canadiens another dimension offensively.
He did suffer a knee injury that wiped out most of his 2011-12 season for the Sting, but he is well worth the third pick in the draft. Expect Galchenyuk to be a superstar player and another great Canadiens forward very soon.
4. New York Islanders: Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Griffin Reinhart will give the New York Islanders a big, physical presence on the blueline that will make the team far more difficult to score on. His size makes him a beast in his own end, and his offensive game continues to improve.
The Islanders had to add a top defenseman with their first round pick, and they have made a smart choice with Reinhart. He will be able to log a lot of minutes with New York next season.
He has the potential to be a superstar blueliner, and will be a No. 1 defenseman on Long Island for many years.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw (WHL)
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Moose Jaw defenseman Morgan Rielly with the No. 5 pick in the draft to give the team another young blueliner with a promising future.
Rielly and Jake Garidner will give the Leafs a strong skating duo on defense, and the team's poor powerplay from last season will improve with their ability to move the puck up the ice.
The only concern about Rielly is that he tore his ACL this season, but he was able to make a comeback with his impressive work ethic. His high hockey IQ will also help him in the defensive zone at the NHL level, and he won't make stupid mistakes that will cost the Leafs goals.
This is a great pick by the Leafs.
6. Anaheim Ducks: Hampus Lindholm, Sweden
Not many people expected Hampus Lindholm of Sweden to go to the Anaheim Ducks at No. 6, but his defensive skills are going to upgrade the depth and talent on the Ducks blueline in a significant way.
He isn't as strong offensively as other NHL defensemen from Sweden such as Erik Karlsson or Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but he is impressive in his own end with his size and strength.His work ethic and conditioning is arguably the most impressive of any player in this draft class.
Mathew Dumba would have been a better player for Anaheim, but they decided to take a risk and draft Lindholm. Time will tell if they were right.
7. Minnesota Wild: Mathew Dumba, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
The Minnesota Wild needed to draft a No. 1 caliber defenseman with the No. 7 overall pick and they did that with the selection of Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels.
Dumba is a strong player who will bring an passionate energy to the Wild and a physical presence in the defensive zone. His offensive game is also impressive, highlights by his smooth skating all over the ice.
The Wild have built a nice collection of young talent in their organization, and Dumba has a very promising future. He has captain-like leadership and a high hockey IQ as well.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins: Derrick Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
The Pittsburgh Penguins made a major move at the draft by trading star center Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for Brian Dumoulin, Brandon Sutter and the No. 8 overall pick. With that selection, general manager Ray Shero drafted Derrick Pouliot of the WHL's Portland Winterhawks.
Pouliot is an offensive defenseman who can be a playmaker on the power play and start the rush up ice with his strong skating skills.
He also has good size and plays the game hard. He will be a great fit on the Penguins blueline, and really helps the team's depth at the position after a poor first round series loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
9. Winnipeg Jets: Jacob Trouba, USA Development Team (USHL)
Jacob Trouba will be a solid defenseman at the NHL level for the Winnipeg Jets, who had to address their need for more high caliber talent on the blueline.
He will likely go to Michigan next season to be play collegiate hockey, which would be the right decision for him. The Jets would be wise to let him develop and not rush him to the NHL. Expect Trouba to be a spectacular all-around defenseman in a few years.
His size and physical strength will add another dimension to the Jets blueline.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning: Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Slater Koekkoek doesn't make you jump out of your seat with any particular aspect of his game, but he is a very reliable, all-around defenseman who will upgrade the Tampa Bay Lightning blueline tremendously.
Koekkoek and young Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman will be a great pairing at the NHL level and will both be stars very soon.
He doesn't play a phyiscal style of hockey, but Koekkoek is able to win puck battles with his athleticism and high hockey IQ.
11. Washington Capitals: Filip Forsberg, Sweden
The Washington Capitals got what could be the steal of the draft with Swedish star Filip Forsberg at pick No. 11 in the first round.
Forsberg was in the top five of many pre-draft rankings but surprisingly fell out of the top 10. He has a good defensive game but his goal scoring ability is what makes him a great talent.
Since winger Alexander Semin is likely going to leave the Capitals in free agency, the need for another top talent at forward was a need for Washington in this draft. Forsberg will be a great player for the Capitals going forward.
12. Buffalo Sabres: Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec Ramparts (QMJHL)
Mikhail Grigorenko was considered by many as a top three pick in this draft but concerns over a poor performance in the QMJHL playoffs caused his draft stock to fall.
He has top level talent and will give the Buffalo Sabres the playmaking star at center that they desperately need to make the playoffs next season.
The Sabres could not have imagined that he would be available at No. 12, but they were lucky and now have a player with superstar potential for the future.
13. Dallas Stars: Radek Faksa, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Radek Faksa is going to be a spectacular two-way center for the Dallas Stars, and many have compared him to Carolina Hurricanes star Jordan Staal.
Faksa has 35-goal potential at the NHL level and is a very intelligent player that the Stars can build around for many years.
With Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, and now Faska, the Stars will be an explosive team from an offensive standpoint going forward.
This is one of the three best picks of the draft thus far.
14. Buffalo Sabres: Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
The Buffalo Sabres picked at No. 12 but made a trade with the Calgary Flames to acquire the No. 14 pick and select Zemgus Girgensons of the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Girgensons is a talented two-way forward who can score goals and be responsible defensively.
15. Ottawa Senators: Cody Ceci, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
The Ottawa Senators couldn't have imagined that Ottawa 67s defenseman Cody Ceci would be available at No. 15.
He is a talented blueliner with a solid two-way game, and will feel very comfortable playing with the Senators since he knows the city of Ottawa so well.
He scored 60 points in the OHL last season and will give the Senators another offensive presence on the blueline alongside Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson.
16. Washington Capitals: Tom Wilson, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Tom Wilson is a power forward who will give the Washington Capitals a physical presence who can also score goals. The comparisons to Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic may be a bit unfair, but he certainly has the ability to impact games with his size and score 25-plus goals per season.
This was a fantastic pick by a Capitals team that needed to get bigger and stronger.
17. San Jose Sharks: Tomas Hertl, Czech Republic
Czech Republic forward Tomas Hertl will be a good offensive player for the San Jose Sharks. He is a raw talent but has all the skills needed to be a top-six forward in the NHL for a long time.
However, is he worth the No. 17 pick in the draft? No he is not.
18. Chicago Blackhawks: Teuvo Teräväinen, Finland
Teuvo Teräväinen is a fantastic pick by the Chicago Blackhawks because of his top offensive talent and goal scoring ability. He scored 11 goals with eight assists in SM-liiga last season, and will give the Blackhawks another quality forward for the future.
They could have taken a defenseman with this pick, but I doubt that Chicago thought Teräväinen would be available at pick 18.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning: Andrei Vasilevski, Russia
Andrei Vasilevski was the top goaltender in this class and even though the Tampa Bay Lightning just traded for Nashville Predators backup Anders Lindback, taking the Russian prospect is still a wise pick.
He probably won't be with the Lightning for a few years, but he's already shown with Russia in international competition that he can be an impressive player in the NHL.
20. Philadelphia Flyers: Scott Laughton, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Scott Laughton is perfect for the Philadelphia Flyers because he is a physical center who can excel defensively and also score goals.
He will add to the Flyers' already impressive depth at the center position. Passing on Finnish defenseman Olli Maata may have been a mistake, but Laughton will fit nicely in Philly and have a solid career with the Flyers.
21. Calgary Flames: Mark Jankowski, High School
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Mark Jankowski is an interesting pick for the Calgary Flames, who traded with the Buffalo Sabres to move down from No. 14 and select him at pick 21.
He won't be in the NHL for several years and is one of the youngest players in this draft class. This is a long-term project for Flames, but that isn't a bad thing because Calgary isn't in a position to win now. The franchise needs to rebuild soon, and this pick will be part of that process.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Olli Maata, London Knights (OHL)
The Penguins used their second pick of the first round to select London Knights defenseman Olli Maata at pick 22. Pittsburgh selected Derrick Pouliot with the No. 8 pick.
Maata is a very good offensive player who will score goals and quarterback the power play. A lot of talented NHL blueliners have come from the London Knights, and there's no reason why Maata can't have a good pro career too.
This is a great pick for the Penguins, who have now drafted another solid two-way defenseman. I can't imagine they thought he would be here at pick 22.
23. Florida Panthers: Mike Matheson, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
The Florida Panthers added another talented young defenseman to their organization with the selection of Dubuque Fighting Saints star Mike Matheson.
Matheson had an average year but has a lot of promise as an offensive defenseman.There were several better players on the board, but then again, this is a pick for the future in Florida.
24. Boston Bruins: Malcolm Subban, Belleville Bulls (OHL)
The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens rivalry has been taken to another level with the Bruins' selection of top goalie prospect Malcolm Subban with the 24th pick.
Subban's brother P.K. is a star defenseman for the Canadiens and is not a very popular player among Boston fans. Subban is a very athletic goalie and has strong reflexes. He shows great composure between the pipes and plays the game with a lot of passion.
After the Bruins found out Tim Thomas wasn't going to play next season, bolstering their goaltending depth needed to happen. With Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin, and now Subban in the Bruins organization, the team is now stocked with talent at the goaltender position.
25. St. Louis Blues: Jordan Schmaltz, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Jordan Schmaltz might be a few years away from being an NHL player but he will be a star for the St. Louis Blues.
This pick makes the best defensive team in hockey this year even strong in their own zone. With Alex Pietrangelo and other young blueliners starting to realize their potential in St. Louis, the addition of Schmaltz will make the Blues a tough team to play for many years to come.
Schmaltz is a good offensive defenseman, evidenced by his 35 points in 46 games for Green Bay this season.
26. Vancouver Canucks: Brendon Gaunce, Belleville Bulls (OHL)
The Vancouver Canucks made a fantastic selection with Brendon Gaunce of the Belleville Bulls, who is a talented two-way center.
He will add scoring to the Canucks at the center position as well as some size and strength, which are two needs for Vancouver in the offseason. This was the best choice for the Canucks at pick 26.
27. Phoenix Coyotes: Henrik Samuelsson, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The Phoenix Coyotes made a smart pick with forward Henrik Samuelsson from the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings at pick 28.
Samuelsson will add some versatility to the Coyotes because he can play both center and right wing, which will be two positions that the team must improve over the next few years.
28. New York Rangers: Brady Skjei, USA National Development Team (USHL)
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Brady Skjei will be a good defenseman at the NHL level but he won't be on the Rangers roster right away. He's still a few years away from being an NHL player, but his offensive talents have great potential.
He needs to be a more complete player, and for that to happen, he must improve defensively and get stronger. The Rangers already have great depth on defense, so there is no reason to rush Skjei to the NHL.
29. New Jersey Devils: Stefan Matteau, USA National Development Team (USHL)
30. Los Angeles Kings: Tanner Pearson, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Tanner Pearson will give the Los Angeles Kings a reliable scoring presence at the left wing position when he arrives to the NHL. He scored 97 points on 37 goals and 54 assists last season for the Barrie Colts.
In addition to his offensive talents, Pearson is also a good defensive player, which will earn him playing time early in his NHL career. The Kings got a lot of value with the last pick of the first round.