2012 NHL Draft Results: 5 First-Round Moves That Shocked Everyone

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IJune 23, 2012

2012 NHL Draft Results: 5 First-Round Moves That Shocked Everyone

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    With the first round of the 2012 NHL draft now complete, we look back on those picks and moves that had us drop our jaw, look hazily at the television screen or just become swept over with mass confusion.

    There was some pretty interesting trades preceding and during the draft. 

    Consensus top-10 picks fell the the bottom of the first round, picks were traded by teams that probably shouldn't have traded them and players who were on nobody's mind in the first round made surprise appearances much to the dismay of fans, other general managers and to the players themselves. 

    This draft did not disappoint in terms of entertainment value. The only sure thing that happened was Sarnia's Nail Yakupov first overall selection by the Edmonton Oilers, stockpilers of the perennial first overall pick, or so it may seem. 

    Top defensive prospect Ryan Murray went second overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team long too weary for a franchise defenseman. 

    After that, the fun started.

    Here's a look back on the top five most shocking moves from the first round. 

V. The Maple Leafs Pass On Offense to Pick Up More Defense

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    Haven't we seen this before in Toronto?

    Back when the Leafs loaded up their defense with names like Beauchemin, Komisarek, Phaneuf and Schenn it didn't work that time around either.

    Toronto GM Brian Burke was high on Alex Galchenyuk, but after the young pivot was drafted third overall by the Leafs' hated rival the Montreal Canadiens, Burke surprised everyone. 

    With offensive threats like Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko and Teuvo Teravainen still on the board, this move perplexed myself and a few others. 

    Burke is either overconfident in Lupul, Kessel and Grabovski, or this is another poor draft for the Maple Leafs.

IV. Vancouver Picks Up a Center Months After Trading Cody Hodgson

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    The Canucks got a terrific player in Brendan Gaunce, but to be honest I'm surprised he slipped to the bottom of the first round.

    Having said that, I can't understand this move. The Canucks had a superior center in Cody Hodgson who was selected with the 10th overall pick a few years back. The Canucks promptly traded Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres because there was no room for Hodgson to ever be a first- or second-line center while Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler are in town.

    Vancouver is a highly competitive team, but Gaunce won't see NHL action for awhile, and when he finally does, chances are Sedin and Kesler will still be there. So basically the Canucks used a first-rounder to draft a bottom six center. 

III. Filip Forsberg Falls into Washington's Lap, Gift Wrapped and All

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    Filip Forsberg was projected as a top-five pick in this year's draft. I had seen the Swede go as high as being projected a second overall pick in some of TSN's pre-draft rankings.

    So can you imagine how the Capitals felt when Forsberg was not selected in the top 10, just waiting to be plucked by GM George McPhee?

    The Capitals are starting to get in on the love affair with Swedish players and are slowly building a strong corps around centers Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. Backstrom has always been a stud, but Johansson, a fellow first-round pick, has needed a little extra time to develop into a second-line center. 

    Forsberg won't be NHL ready for a few years and will most likely play in Sweden, which is great for his development. 

    If Forsberg and Kuznetsov decide to come to America at the same time, the Capitals will have to clear some roster room and get ready for two guys on the same team vying for the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. 

II. Calgary Trades Down Despite a Desperate Need for the Best Player Available

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    What was Jay Feaster thinking?

    The Calgary Flames were sitting pretty at No. 14, a pick that was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in which the Sabres selected Latvian Zemgus Girgensons.

    The Flames, far too long overdue for a total overhaul of their roster, decided that no player was worth taking and instead traded down and picked up an additional second-round pick from Buffalo.

    What was even more confusing was whom Calgary drafted. 

    Mark Jankowski is considered a long-term project, and that might be just fine for the Flames since they are a very long ways away from contending again, but Jankowski just wasn't on anybody's minds.

    It was without a doubt the strangest pick of the night. 

    TSN's Pierre McGuire hit the nail on the head when the first words out of his mouth were, "What are they doing?" referring to Calgary's dubious selection. 

I. Carolina Selling the Farm to Unite the Staal Brothers

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins had themselves quite the draft. 

    After ceding a record amount of goals to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs, the Penguins had decided enough was enough and drafted two very good defensemen in  Derrick Pouliot and Finland's Olli Maatta, a player who was projected by some to be a top-10 pick.

    After Jordan Staal turned down a 10-year, $60 million contract, the Penguins knew it was time for the elite checking center to be moved.

    The good news for Carolina: They get to have two Staal brothers play on the same sheet of ice every night. Eric and Jordan are both Stanley Cup winners. Jordan fills a huge hole the Canes had at their second-line center position and the move brings ultimate stability to the Canes' franchise. Both men will be very happy in Raleigh.

    The bad news for Carolina: They had to give up the eighth overall pick as well as Brandon Sutter, a great defensive center who had already earned a reputation as a young leader in the Hurricanes' locker room. The Canes also had to give up top-tier prospect Brian Domoulin.

    The good news for Pittsburgh: It looks like Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and/or Zbynek Michalek are on their way out of Pittsburgh sooner than later. After last year's heinous showing of defense, there are going to be changes made. Pouliot is not projected to be on the Penguins' starting roster next year, but stranger things have happened. 

    The bad news for Pittsburgh: Jordan Staal was an elite penalty killer who still has tremendous offensive upside. He could never be better than a third-line center in Pittsburgh because of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Pittsburgh still retains arguably the most depth at center in the entire NHL, but if Staal blossoms into a perennial 60-80 point center, Pens' fans are going to look back and see what might have been.