As of February 9th, 2012, the Columbus Blue Jackets have an NHL worst 36 points. The next worse team is the Edmonton Oilers. Its a formality that the Blue Jackets will have the NHL’s worst record. The Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Anaheim Ducks are competing for Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray with the 2nd overall pick. Edmonton has to be the frontrunner to land Ryan Murray right now.
This NHL Mock Draft will be a post write up for the 2012 CHL Prospects game.
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.
There is hot talk that the Blue Jackets are not ruling out the notion of trading Rick Nash if it means getting additional draft picks.
Columbus will be picking #1 overall unless the lottery has another team jump Columbus. The NHL Draft is in Pittsburgh this year. Pittsburgh and Ohio have a deep sports rivalry. I would not be completely shocked if the NHL decided to fix the draft to keep Penguins fans happy. Yakupov is the most highly touted prospect to enter the NHL since Crosby. Yakupov is the best winger since Ovechkin and the best player to play for the Sarnia Sting since Steven Stamkos. Penguins fans will be disgusted by the hype that Yakupov gets heading into the draft considering Ryan Nugent Hopkins has had a career season in Edmonton.
Yakupov has the skill set to play left wing, center, or right wing. Yakupov is best used on the wing though. Yakupov had 49 goals, 52 assists, and 101 points in 2010-2011 as a rookie import from Russia being one of 6 players to have over 100 points in the OHL.
Yakupov’s numbers have dipped in 2011-2012 as Yakupov only has 22 goals, 33 assists, and 55 points in 29 games due to the loss of star center Alex Galchenyuk plus injuries. Yakupov got suspended for 2 games in the Ontario Hockey League for not playing in the CHL prospects game despite being injured.
You are clearly lying to yourself if you do not think some fans will boo Yakupov on the Blue Jackets considering the draft is in Pittsburgh. If Edmonton gets the top pick for a 3rd year in a row it would add much more suspense to the draft. Edmonton could choose between having a deadly line 1 featuring Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, and Yakupov while moving Eberle down to the 2nd line or going with blue chip defender Ryan Murray by passing on Yakupov with the top pick.
In the end, I believe Edmonton would take Nail Yakupov if the Oilers landed the top pick because Yakupov is by far and away the best NHL prospect in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Yakupov is capable of playing on a first line right away in the NHL.
Other teams like Carolina, Anaheim, Montreal, or Tampa Bay could be in the lottery mix for Nail Yakupov as well. If your team finishes with one of the bottom five records you have a chance to move up 4 spots depending on what happens on lottery day. No team can move down more than one spot.
Columbus is pretty much guaranteed a top 2 pick meaning they would get Yakupov or Ryan Murray at this point while being a heavy frontrunner to pick first in June’s NHL draft. Columbus has to add more offensive firepower by selecting Yakupov if they receive the top pick.
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. Edmonton could have gone with Larsson last year, but opted for Ryan Nugent Hopkins instead because they had 2 first round picks including one from the Los Angeles Kings.
Ryan Nugent Hopkins was seen as the player who could have a more immediate impact while I viewed Larsson as the player with more long term potential.
Ryan Murray was named assistant captain of the Everett Silvertips at age 15. Murray got named team captain at age 16 and has maintained that role for the past two seasons for the Silvertips. Murray does not have the huge upside that Adam Larsson had coming into last years NHL draft. Murray has the mental discipline that scouts had questions about when it came to Adam Larsson. Murray should make an NHL roster and start right away in 2012.
Unless Edmonton lands the top pick for a 3rd year in a row the Edmonton Oilers have 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.
Edmonton could get a line 2 center behind Ryan Nugent Hopkins by getting Mikhail Grigorenko if they want to add the best player available with the #2 overall pick. Right now the Oilers have Shawn Horcoff and Sam Gagner. If the Oilers release Sam Gagner, I will consider this option more carefully because Edmonton added multiple defenseman like Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, and Dillon Simpson as potential defenseman who could crack the Oilers roster down the road. Klefbom is a #2 defender on the first line and the other players are project players with the ability to become line 2 defenders on the Edmonton Oilers main roster at best. Edmonton needs a true #1 defender to anchor the blue line.
I think Ryan Murray is most likely to go 2nd here if Edmonton is picking 2nd overall. Murray has been an assistant captain on Everett since age 15 as a rookie. Murray became the SIlvertips team captain at age 16 and has maintained his role for 2 seasons. Murray can step in becoming a #1 defender on the Oilers first line at some point. The Oilers also have the luxury of not rushing Ryan Murray into the lineup too quickly.
The Oilers have some young talent like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle on offense. Magnus Paajarvi and Ales Hemsky can play on the 2nd line.
3. Carolina Hurricanes Mikhail Grigorenko Center Quebec Remparts QMJHL The Hurricanes have to take the best player available here. That player clearly has to be Mikhail Grigorenko at this point. Some people are beginning to believe that Grigorenko could begin to rival Nail Yakupov for the top pick. I am not going that far just yet. Grigorenko will be a top 3 pick that should make an NHL roster next season.
The Hurricanes need more offensive depth on the back 6 down the road. For 2012, the focus will be on stabilizing the front 6 of the Hurricanes offense. Eric Staal, Jussi Jokinen, and Jeff Skinner can play the first line. The Hurricanes second line can feature Mikhail Grigorenko as the center and Brandon Sutter playing on the outside at left wing with Chad Larose at right wing. Grigorenko can move to the outside at right wing if he does not work out at center with Sutter moving back to center. Carolina’s coaches can mix and match line combinations on the 2nd line with Mikhail Grigorenko and Brandon Sutter.
Previous Pick Morgan Rielly Defenseman Moose Jaw Warriors WHL
4. Anaheim Ducks Filip Forsberg Left Wing Leksands Allsvenskan The Ducks really need to add a winger for youth. I thought heavily about mocking both Forsberg or Dumba here. Forsberg has impressed me more than Matthew Dumba at this point which is why I mocked Forsberg 4th.
Matthew Dumba has shown tremendous leadership. Dumba has the defensive defender ability to block shots and bail a goalie out while being an effective quarterback on the power play.
Dumba struggled to show some toughness in the prospects game and took way too long to execute his shot. As a result Dumba’s wrist shot was blocked.
The Ducks are stacked at right wing. Anaheim does need to start adding some youth and left wingers to groom for the future. I feel like Filip Forsberg makes much more sense for the Ducks at this spot. Forsberg could crack the Ducks roster right away and have an early impact on the first line.
Previous Pick Mikhail Grigorenko Center Quebec Remparts QMJHL
5. 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.
I kept asking myself whether Alex Galchenyuk or Radek Faska made more sense for the Canadians. Faska blew a key chance to permanently surpass Alex Galchenyuk at the 2012 CHL prospects game. Faska was playing on the same line as Mikhail Grigorenko which may reveal even more.
Alex Galchenyuk may have been injured this season. When Galchenyuk is healthy, he is a line 1 playmaker center. Galchenyuk has that kind of ability. Montreal needs someone with Galchenyuk’s skill set.
Nail Yakupov generated over 100 points as a rookie in the OHL last season thanks to the playmaking skills of Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk shares great chemistry with Yakupov on the ice. Both players could still realistically go in the top 5.
I have no problem with a team selecting Alex Galchenyuk in the top 5. Galchenyuk probably needs one year in the OHL considering his injury. Galchenyuk is capable of playing on a first line so it would not shock me to see Galchenyuk make an NHL roster right away as a rookie.
The thing is Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, and Scott Gomez have multiple years left on their contracts. Lars Eller was once a 2007 first round pick by the St. Louis Blues. Eller has emerged in Montreal when the Blues traded for Halak. Eller has an expiring deal after this season. Eller will likely get retained.
I am guessing that Montreal would let David Desharnais play out his contract and then open that 3rd line center spot up for Alex Galchenyuk in 2013 if the Canadians opted to select Galchenyuk 5th overall in 2012.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning Malcolm Subban Goalie Belleville Bulls OHL The Lightning really need a goalie. I have seen Malcolm Subban listed as high as 6th overall. Subban and Collin Olson are the two first round goaltender prospects in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. I think the Lightning opt to shock everyone by playing a devil’s advocate type of role. Steve Yzerman realizes the importance of finding a keeper. Malcolm Subban and Collin Olson are two goalies who could step into the NHL as rookies and compete right away. I feel like one could realistically end up starting on an NHL team next season.
Subban has a 1.93 goals against average with a .938 save percentage while playing in 20 games for the Bulls in 2011-2012. Subban has recorded a pair of shutouts. Its hard to justify an argument against Subban for being a top 10 pick when you look at his stats. You rarely see goalies his age with a goals against average that is under 2 goals plus Subban has a save percentage of nearly .940.
Malcolm Subban can always return to the Belleville Bulls if he does not win the Lightning’s starting goaltender job. I think Subban is capable of being out Mathieu Garon for the Lightning’s starting job in the event that Dwayne Roloson leaves. Subban is that good.
Subban would likely return to Belleville because goalies rarely make the jump to the NHL right off the back. Goalies usually get an additional year in the CHL and sometimes development in the AHL too. Malcolm Subban will be the Lightning’s starting goaltender by 2013 if they take him 6th overall.
Previous Pick Filip Forsberg Left Wing Leksands Allsvenskan
7. Buffalo Sabres Radek Faksa Center Kitchner Rangers OHL Radek Faksa has 22 goals and 26 assists in 43 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. Faska has the versatility to play left wing, center, or right wing. Essentially, Faska can play anywhere at forward in the NHL with his athleticism.
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.
Faksa would likely get sent back to the Rangers for one more year of development in the OHL. Faksa has huge potential. Faksa needs to show more consistency.
8. 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. I had the Islanders taking Dumba 6th last time. Now Dumba slides to 8th overall by some crazy miracle.
The Islanders really should wait to develop Dumba by giving him one more season of development in the WHL. Dumba is not as polished as Ryan Nugent Hopkins a former teammate of Dumba’s. There were questions about whether Ryan Nugent Hopkins should play in Edmonton or go back to Red Deer prior to this season. I think Dumba needs one year in the WHL. The Islanders are so thin on defense that it really would not shock me if Dumba played right away next season.
The Islanders seem like their set with their line 1 defensive pairing with Mark Streit and Travis Hamonic. Line two should feature Andrew MacDonald and Matthew Dumba. Calvin De Haan a 12th overall pick from the 2009 NHL Draft could play on the 3rd line in 2012.
9. Winnipeg Jets Brendan Gaunce Left Wing Belleville Bulls OHL Brendan Gaunce is a 6 foot 2 205 pound playmaker center. Gaunce has improved his ability as a sniper and can convert to left wing. The Winnipeg Jets usually go for OHL players. Gaunce has done enough as an OHL prospect to cement himself as a top 10 pick at this point.
Brendan Gaunce really improved his deking ability at the prospects game. Gaunce could develop into a complete center who may be able to move outside to left wing in the NHL. Winnipeg would move Gaunce to left wing if they selected him with the 9th pick.
Gaunce may have trouble adjusting from center to left wing in the NHL. The Jets will not want to rush Brendan Gaunce into a big role. The Jets would likely send Gaunce back to the Belleville Bulls. It would not shock me to see Gaunce on the final roster.
Previous Pick Cody Ceci Defenseman Ottawa 67′s OHL
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.
Reinhart was one player I enjoyed watching when the Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Moose Jaw Warriors back in an October WHL contest. Reinhart is 6 foot 4 205 pounds. Reinhart has the ability to become an excellent two way defender.
Reinhart has excellent slap shot power. Reinhart needs to execute his slap shots in quicker fashion though.
Reinhart has solidified his status as the 3rd best defender in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft after his performance at the 2012 CHL prospects game.
Griffin Reinhart has the tools to become an elite defender. He needs at least one year on the Oil Kings to become more disciplined. Dallas has so much defensive depth that the Stars have the luxury of keeping Reinhart on the Oil Kings for two seasons.
11. Washington Capitals from Colorado Avalanche Collin Olson USA Under 18 Team USHL Washington drafts Collin Olson as a goalie for the future. Washington has needed a keeper for a while. I really believe that Malcolm Subban and Collin Olson are 1A and 1B in terms of first round goaltenders. If I’m a team needing a goalie in the top 10, I do not hesitate to take either keeper. I really believe these are the 2 best keeper prospects since Jack Campbell who went to the Dallas Stars in the 2010 NHL Draft.
Collin Olson will likely be a 2 to 5 year project. The Capitals will groom Olson as the goalie of the future. The Capitals will be patient though without rushing him into the lineup.
12. Calgary Flames Derrick Pouliot Defenseman Portland Winterhawks WHL The Flames spent a 2011 first round pick on Sven Bartschi of the Portland Winterhawks. Now the Flame repeat the process by adding a defender with Derrick Pouliot here. Derrick Pouliot proved why he is a better prospect than Morgan Rielly at the 2012 CHL Prospects game.
Pouliout would probably return to Portland for one year before getting called up to the Calgary Flames lineup in 2013. Both Bartschi and Pouliout could join the Flames in 2013.
Previous Pick Brendan Gaunce Center Belleville Bulls OHL
13. 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. Jacob Trouba is a 2 year project. Trouba can become a #1 defender if developed properly.
14. Florida Panthers Morgan Rielly Defenseman Moose Jaw Warriors WHL Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Morgan Rielly was once considered a top 10 prospect. The Panthers have brought in so many good prospects that they sort of have a luxury for taking the best player available. The Panthers would be getting a huge steal with Morgan Rielly here in the event that Rielly slips this far.
Morgan Rielly needs one more season on the Moose Jaw Warriors. Rielly has to showcase the ability to recover from his injury.
Previous Pick Alex Gudbranson Defenseman Kingston Frontenacs OHL
15. Minnesota Wild Matt Finn Defenseman Guelph Storm OHL The Wild would get the 8 seed if the NHL regular season ended today. The Wild have allowed more goals then they have scored. I cannot see the Wild knocking off the 1 seed in the Western Conference so I got the Wild picking 15th here.
Matt Finn has better defensive discipline than former Guelph Storm defender Drew Doughty. Finn is nowhere near as talented as Doughty. Doughty had back to back seasons of 50 points in the OHL.
Finn showcased some ability as an offensive defender in the 2012 CHL prospects game. Maybe the Wild believe Matt Finn has the potential to become a two way defender. If this is the case, then the Wild should consider Matt Finn here.
Matt Finn could start right away. Minnesota will probably be patient and develop him with their team in the playoff hunt. Finn would likely get 2 years on the Guelph Storm.
Previous Pick Derrick Pouliot Defenseman Portland Winterhawks WHL
16. Ottawa Senators Cody Ceci Defenseman Ottawa 67′s OHL The Senators may look to add a defender for depth if they get this far. The Senators would likely lose to the New York Rangers as an 8 seed if they made the playoffs.
Ottawa is stacked with defenders. Cody Ceci will have the luxury of developing at his own pace if the Ottawa Senators pick him up.
Previous Pick Slater Koekkoek Defenseman Peterborough Petes OHL
17. Toronto Maple Leafs Slater Koekkoek Defenseman Peterborough Petes OHL The Maple Leafs get the 7 seed before losing to Boston. Toronto adds a defensive player for depth with this selection.
Toronto would be patient by developing Slater Koekkoek at his own pace. This would really help Koekkoek mature before working his way onto the Maple Leafs roster one day.
Previous Pick Matt Finn Defenseman Guelph Storm OHL
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.
The Kings have a farm of defensive prospects. Adding another defender to their system like Ebert who models his offensive game after the Drew Doughty’s and Jack Johnson’s of the NHL only gives the Kings more offensive ammunition on defense moving forward.
19. Philadelphia Flyers Olli Maata Defenseman London Knights OHL I like the Devils over the Philadelphia Flyers if these teams meet in the postseason. There is a temptation to play devils advocate here.
Maata provides a steal for the Flyers at #17 overall. Maata came from Finland before joining the Knights. Maata needs time to develop. Maata is a project defender with huge potential. Rushing Maata is the worst thing you can do at this point.
Previous Pick Tom Wilson Right Wing Plymouth Whalers OHL
20. St. Louis Blues Sebastian Collberg Right Wing Frolunda Elitserien The Blues have tons of talented players. The Blues could send Collberg down to the AHL and eventually bring him up for the future.
Collberg is by far the best player available. Collberg would make too much sense for the Blues with the 20th pick.
21. Washington Capitals Zemgus Girgensons Center Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL Washington host the Pittsburgh Penguins 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. Girgensons is a team captain on the Saints. Girgensons is like a 3 to 4 year project despite his huge potential. I feel like the Capitals have the luxury to develop him.
22. San Jose Sharks Branden Troock Right Wing Seattle Thunderbirds WHL The Sharks get the 3 seed and lose to Chicago who is a 6 seed. This results in the Sharks picking 22nd. The Sharks could use more depth on the wing.
The Sharks could use this pick on a 3 year project at right wing like Branden Troock. Troock could be a good complimentary piece on the back 6.
Previous Pick Martin Frk Right Wing Halifax Mooseheads QMJHL
23. Pittsburgh Penguins Colton Scissons Center Kelowna Rockets WHL The Penguins should win their opening round contest with Washington if the regular season ends today. I really believe that the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins are the 2 best teams in the Eastern Conference at this point.
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.
Scissons would return to the Kelowna Rockets in 2012. Scissons could make the jump to the Penguins in 2013 to help Pittsburgh save some cap room.
24. New Jersey Devils Tom Wilson Right Wing Plymouth Whalers OHL Tom Wilson has the ability to play anywhere at forward. The New Jersey Devils may be enticed by that feeling the temptation to take Tom Wilson with this pick. Wilson could come up and play right away on the back 6. I feel like the Devils develop him in Plymouth for a year though.
Previous Pick Olli Maata Defenseman London Knights OHL
25. Vancouver Canucks Mike Winther Center Prince Albert Raiders WHL The Canucks add Mike Winther as a two year project to groom for the future. Winther dominated the 2012 CHL Prospects game. Winther deserves a spot in the late first round.
26. Detroit Red Wings Phillip Di Giuseppe Left Wing Michigan The Red Wings take a hometown player who plays on the Michigan Wolverines hockey team. Phillip Di Giuseppe could be a 4 year project. Then he would play in the AHL. Phillip Di Giuseppe has potential to become a line 1 left winger. He needs tons of seasoning at Michigan and in the AHL before he makes the jump to Detroit.
Previous Pick Dalton Thrower Defenseman Saskatoon Blades WHL
27. Nashville Predators Pontus Aberg Left Wing Djurgardens Elitserien The Predators may go with an international player here. Aberg provides great value at #24 overall. Nashville would develop Aberg at their own rate.
28. Boston Bruins Andreas Athanasiou Left Wing London Knights OHL Andreas Athanasiou could be an option for the Bruins with this selection. The Bruins love OHL prospects. Boston went with a center in 2010 and defenseman in 2011. Boston should go with an OHL winger in 2012 if this trend continues. Boston would be able to wait for Andreas Athanasiou to develop with the depth on their roster.
Previous Pick Scott Kosmachuk Right Wing Guelph Storm OHL
29. Chicago Blackhawks Teuvo Teravainen Left Wing Jokerit Helsinki SM Liiga Teravainen can play left wing, center, or right wing at forward. The Blackhawks could plug Teravainen into their AHL squad right away.
Teuvo Teravainen would be able to play for a roster spot on the Rockford Icehogs in the AHL. Teravainen would compete for an NHL roster spot in 2 years.
Previous Pick Malcolm Subban Goalie Belleville Bulls OHL
30. New York Rangers Martin Frk Right Wing Halifax Mooseheads QMJHL My cup pick at this point would be the New York Rangers over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Rangers really seem poised in this season. The Rangers have Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, great defense, and Lundqvist at goalie.
Frk was a top ten pick back in the preseason. Now Frk is barely left in the first round. The Rangers have the luxury of taking the best player available so they go with Frk here.
Frk could play in the NHL right away if he fully recovers from his injury. In this situation Frk returns to Halifax where the Mooseheads have the luxury of continuing to develop him.