This is the midseason mock draft for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft leading up to the All Star Break. Columbus is still in the drivers seat to win the Fail To Get Nail Sweepstakes.
1. Columbus Blue Jackets Nail Yakupov Left Wing Sarnia Sting OHL Nail Yakupov is the clear cut best player available. Imagine a line 1 unit with Jeff Carter on center with the option to dish the puck to left winger Nail Yakupov or right winger Rick Nash.
2. Edmonton Oilers Ryan Murray Defenseman Everett Silvertips WHL Murray is the top graded WHL prospect. Murray is very mentally disciplined. Murray could make an instant impact on an NHL roster.
Edmonton already has a deadly line one offense featuring Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle when healthy. Adding a player like Ryan Murray would really bolster the defense for the Oilers.
Unless Edmonton lands the top pick for a 3rd year in a row this team has to go defense. Yakupov is the best player available and he can play on the first line at right wing with Hall and Nugent Hopkins allowing you to move Eberle down to the second line with Paajarvi when the time arrives.
3. Buffalo Sabres Radek Faksa Center Kitchner Rangers OHL Radek Faksa has 20 goals and 22 assists in 38 games played. Faksa is 6 foot 3 203 pounds. The Sabres love drafting for size. Faksa is ranked 4th overall by NHL Central Scouting in North American Skaters. Faksa is really underrated going extremely under the radar right now.
I get the feeling Buffalo takes a huge liking to him. This is a very bold prediction that I am making right now. Landeskog went 2nd overall and Jeff Skinner won rookie of the year after playing for the Kitchener Rangers.
Most mock drafts list Faksa as a late first round pick. Central Scouting lists Faksa as the 4th best player. I would gladly take Faksa on the Dallas Stars if our team misses the postseason. Postseason is priority #1 for Dallas though.
4. Anaheim Ducks Mikhail Grigorenko Center Quebec Remparts QMJHL Grigorenko is the best player available. The Ducks have to add Grigorenko here. Grigorenko can play center or right wing.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning Filip Forsberg Left Wing Leksands Allsvenskan Forsberg reminds me of a younger Sean Bergenheim. Bergenheim’s presence is missed greatly in Tampa Bay.
6. New York Islanders Matthew Dumba Defenseman Red Deer Rebels WHL The Islanders snag a steal with Matthew Dumba here. The Islanders finally get their leader on defense.
7. Carolina Hurricanes Morgan Rielly Defenseman Moose Jaw Warriors WHL The Hurricanes need a defender. Reilly is probably the best player available at this point.
8. Montreal Canadians Alex Galchenyuk Center Sarnia Sting OHL Galchenyuk has missed some time in 2011 due to injuries. Galchenyuk was considered a top 5 talent heading into the season. The Canadians currently rank 30th out of 30 NHL teams on the power play.
9. Phoenix Coyotes Jacob Trouba Defenseman USA Under 18 Team USHL Trouba may be the top defenseman available at this spot. I could see Phoenix taking a flyer on Trouba.
10. Dallas Stars Griffin Reinhart Defenseman Edmonton Oil Kings WHL The Stars need to add a playmaker center. The exception to this rule will be if Reinhart slips to 10th overall. Then Dallas goes best player available. I think Reinhart has the potential to become the top defenseman in this entire draft. Reinhart may be a project player who needs some time to develop.
11. Winnipeg Jets Cody Ceci Defenseman Ottawa 67′s OHL The Jets opt to pursue Cody Ceci with this pick hoping to shore up defense. Ceci would get to go back to Ottawa and develop his game for another year.
12. Calgary Flames Brendan Gaunce Center Belleville Bulls OHL The Flames need a playmaker center for the future. Gaunce may be the answer to the Flames playmaking problem. Brendan Gaunce also has the size that teams will look for.
13. Toronto Maple Leafs Matt Finn Defenseman Guelph Storm OHL Matt Finn may add another defensive player for Toronto to develop in their system.
14. Minnesota Wild Derrick Pouliot Defenseman Portland Winterhawks WHL Pouliot would make a great additional defenseman for the Minnesota Wild.
15. Washington Capitals Zemgus Girgensons Center Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL Washington would play the Rangers if the season ended today. I am just not sure that the Capitals could beat the Rangers at this point. The Capitals have the fewest points left so they would pick here.
The Capitals have to get Girgensons and groom him for the future if he lasts this long. Girgensons may have just as much of an impact as Alex Galchenyuk. Girgensons can be a team leader just like Galchenyuk.
16. Washington Capitals from Colorado Avalanche Collin Olson USA Under 18 Colorado gets the 8 seed and gets swept by Detroit. Team USHL Washington drafts Collin Olson as a goalie for the future. Washington has needed a keeper for a while.
17. New Jersey Devils Olli Maata Defenseman London Knights OHL New Jersey will get into the postseason if they keep playing this good. I have a hard time seeing the Devils make it past the 2 seed Bruins if the season ended today.
Maata provides a steal for the Devils at #17 overall. Maata came from Finland before joining the Knights. Larsson played in Sweden. Maata and Adam Larsson would have instant chemistry on the ice and create a deadly blue line for years in New Jersey.
18. Los Angeles Kings Nick Ebert Defenseman Windsor Spitfires OHL The Kings would have the 7 seed if the year ended today. The Kings would draw Vancouver in round 1. I like Vancouver in that match up. Ebert’s favorite player is Jack Johnson. I’ll go out on a limb and say the Kings get Ebert here.
19. Ottawa Senators Slater Koekkoek Defenseman Peterborough Petes OHL The Senators would draw the Flyers if the season ended today. I would take the Flyers in that contest.
Ottawa could use a developmental defenseman for help. Maybe the Senators turn to Koekkoek here.
20. St. Louis Blues Sebastian Collberg Right Wing Frolunda Elitserien The Blues lose a 7 games showdown to the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago moves on in a very exciting series if this match up goes down like I expect.
Collberg is by far the best player available. Collberg would make too much sense for the Blues with the 20th pick.
21. Florida Panthers Alex Gudbranson Defenseman Kingston Frontenacs OHL The Panthers drafted Erik Gudbranson in 2010. Maybe the Panthers will get his brother in 2012.
22. San Jose Sharks Martin Frk Right Wing Halifax Mooseheads QMJHL The Sharks get the 3 seed and lose to Nashville who is a 6 seed. This results in the Sharks picking 22nd.
The Sharks could use more depth on the wing. Frk provides really good value at this spot.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins Colton Scissons Center Kelowna Rockets WHL Scissons has the two way ability at center. The Penguins may need a center for the future with Crosby, Staal, Malkin all having expiring contracts over the next few years. I doubt the Penguins have the cap room to bring back all 3. Crosby and Staal’s deals run out in 2013. Malkin’s deal is up in 2014.
24. Nashville Predators Pontus Aberg Left Wing Djurgardens Elitserien The Predators may go with an international player here. Aberg provides great value at #24 overall.
25. Philadelphia Flyers Tom Wilson Right Wing Plymouth Whalers OHL The Flyers go with the best player available here.
26. Vancouver Canucks Mike Winther Center Prince Albert Raiders WHL The Canucks add Mike Winther as a two year project to groom for the future.
27. Chicago Blackhawks Malcolm Subban Belleville Bulls OHL The Blackhawks take the best available player here. Subban makes an outstanding developmental goalie for the Blackhakws.
28. Boston Bruins Scott Kosmachuk Right Wing Guelph Storm OHL The Bruins like OHL players. Kosmachuk could be an option at #28 overall.
29. New York Rangers Michael Matheson Defenseman Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL Michael Matheson could provide the Rangers with more depth.
30. Detroit Red Wings Dalton Thrower Defenseman Saskatoon Blades WHL The Red Wings take the best available player here. Dalton Thrower is listed as the 30th best player by NHL Central Scouting. Thrower could be a good defender if he matures. Dalton Thrower may get that opportunity in Detroit.