NHL Draft 2012: Teams That Improved the Most from Round 1

John RozumCorrespondent IJune 26, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 22:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 22, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers won the game 5-1 to eliminate the Penguins from the playoffs.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

If a team doesn't improve from the draft each year, then the following season has increased odds at becoming a lost cause.

Fortunately for a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins this is not the case. The Penguins made the postseason as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and held two first-round selections.

Interestingly enough, Pittsburgh was not alone with multiple first-rounders in 2012 NHL draft. To that end, let's see who joins the Penguins as the most improved from Round 1.


Washington Capitals

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22:  Thomas Wilson, drafted 16th overall by the Washington Capitals, poses for a portrait during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

After finishing the regular season at 42-32-8, the Washington Capitals were the east's No. 7 seed and won over the Boston Bruins in the conference quarterfinals. And although the Caps fell to the Rangers 4-3 in the conference semis, they still had two Round 1 draft picks to help build a stronger team.

At No. 11 and No. 16 overall the Capitals took two future faces in Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson.

Now, Forsberg won't hit the pro ice in a few years as he's just 17 years old, but the youngster provides a reliable future with his complete skill set. A better defensive player than given credit for, Forsberg will significantly bolster the Caps' on each end once he arrives.

As for Wilson, the kid has excellent size and strength for his age and can make a great impact this season if needed. Wilson's offense is underrated, and because he's such a physically imposing player, the Washington defense will see solid production.

Buffalo Sabres

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22:  Mikhail Grigorenko, 12th overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres, speaks to media during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Ima
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Just missing out on the playoffs with a 39-32-11 record, the Buffalo Sabres will be Eastern Conference postseason contenders sooner than later.

Owners of the No. 12 and No. 14 selections of Round 1, the Sabers took two centers in Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons. In doing so, the Sabres are now cementing their future to present a more explosive offense.

Grigorenko is the better of the two and brings swift passing skills along with the potential to develop quickly. Still, Girgensons is an agile skater who plays more physically than expected. His college development will be key as Buffalo plans for long-term success.

Pittsburgh Penguins

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: Derrick Pouliot, eighth overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, speaks to media during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Making the postseason and still having two first-round picks to build with can certainly create optimism.

Well, the Pittsburgh Penguins address their biggest need of defense with Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta at Nos. 8 and 22 overall. Now, Pouliot does need to develop more as a defender to become a more well-rounded player, but the Penguins can use any kind of help at slowing opponents down.

Plus, Pouliot provides reliable offense and is even better at controlling the puck. Maatta on the other hand, was a great pick late in the first round. A rather complete player, Maata will best serve Pittsburgh in the transition.

He's a physical player on defense with solid size and possesses the ability to attack on offense when needed. Considering the talent already residing in the Steel City, the Penguins have ensured successful longevity from the 2012 draft.