NHL Draft 2012: First-Round Picks Who Will Enjoy Successful Careers
Sometimes it's easy to tell when a first-round pick is a lock to enjoy a successful career. The first round of the 2012 NHL draft has a few prospects who look like they are going to pan out for their respective teams in the future.
Adding that one young player to the roster can give a team the extra boost it needs to go from pretender to contender, or contender to powerhouse.
A few such picks were made in this year's rendition of the NHL draft. Here are three of those players.
No. 2 Overall: Ryan Murray - Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets seriously needed to add a star-caliber defenseman to their roster after the position has become an increasingly debilitating problem over the last few years.
There's a reason why the 18-year-old prospect climbed higher up the draft boards in the months leading up to the big day.
He plays both ways, and does it better than any other defenseman taken in the draft. He's not just the best defenseman in the draft; he's likely to be the best defenseman on the Blue Jackets roster in the next year or so.
The main thing about him is that he doesn't try to use his six-foot, 200-pound frame to lay the wood on people. Much like Nicklas Lidstrom, he relies much more on his knowledge of the game and ability to see the play before it happens rather than his size, which will help with his longevity and durability.
Look for Murray to lead the Blue Jackets in the coming years.
No. 8 Overall: Derrick Pouliot - Pittsburgh Penguins
Pouliot is a bit smaller than Murray, but that won't stop him from having a great career in the NHL. He's one of the most offensively adept defensemen in this entire draft, capable of bringing the puck up the ice himself or making the necessary passes to get it into the offensive zone.
He had 48 assists last season for the Portland Winterhawks to go with 11 goals, but he proved himself in the postseason more so than just about any prospect in the 2012 draft.
In 22 games, Pouliot notched 17 points in the playoffs. A lot of his damage is done on the power play, an aspect of the game that has become his calling card.
NHL executives love defensemen who can run the power play, which is exactly why Pouliot will have no problem in Pittsburgh or wherever else he may play down the line.
No. 12 Overall: Mikhail Grigorenko - Buffalo Sabres
The first thing that you notice about Grigorenko is his 6'3", 200-pound frame. His size helps him shield the puck from defenders and increases his durability, which will make him valuable to any team.
The Sabres have some experience guys in Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, which will help him mature and learn the game faster than most guys his age.
Grigorenko notched 85 points (40 goals and 45 assists) in 59 games for the Quebec Ramparts. He's known as a playmaker wherever he goes, and rightfully so, as few draftees can compete with numbers like that.
Which of these three will have the best NHL career?
A lot of teams were scared away from him because of the "Russian factor," but Grigorenko insists that he "want[s] to play in the NHL." If he stays true to his word and doesn't depart for the KHL, plenty of teams will regret passing up on him.
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