The 2012 NHL Draft Lottery is over. For the 3rd year in a row the Edmonton Oilers will hold the first pick in the NHL Entry Draft.
Picks 1-14 are based on the official 2012 NHL Draft order from the 2012 NHL lottery. Picks 15-30 are based on how I believed the 2012 NHL Playoffs would unfold prior to the playoffs starting.
1. Edmonton Oilers Nail Yakupov Right Wing Sarnia Sting OHL I sort of got the sense that Gary Betman did not want to give Columbus the top pick because the 2012 NHL Draft was in Pittsburgh. The Blue Jackets are the Ohio sports team of the NHL. Pittsburgh sports teams and Ohio Sports teams just sort of have bad blood with each other. Then Betman and friends met in a secret room to decide which team could we give the top pick to without angering the Pittsburgh Hockey fan base. It was clear that the Montreal Canadians and New York Islanders were out of the picture from the get go.
I thought the Toronto Maple Leafs could have gotten this pick after missing out a first round pick in 2010 and 2011 by trading these picks for Phil Kessel. Brian Burke got mad about how a media reporter asked him if the Maple Leafs could learn how to build through the draft by following Pittsburgh’s golden standard. Pittsburgh got Marc Andre Fleury #1 overall in 2003, Malkin 2nd overall in 2004, obtained Crosby in 2005, and then got Jordan Staal in 2006.
After Toronto GM Brian Burke made these comments about the Penguins, this left Edmonton as the lone wolf team that could win the 2012 NHL draft lottery by process of elimination.
I should have known by process of elimination that the NHL would give Edmonton the top pick once again. Edmonton’s most glaring need is on defense.
Nail Yakupov is the clear cut best player available. Yakupov is an offensive player so giving Edmonton the top pick would add some much needed excitement and controversy to stir up the pot leading into June’s 2012 NHL Draft. Yakupov’s struggles in the OHL opening round against the Saginaw Spirit also make you want to give Mikhail Grigorenko a 2nd look even though Yakupov should still be the top selection at the end of the day.
The fab 5 WHL defenders like Everett Silvertips defender Ryan Murray, Red Deer Rebels defenseman Matthew Dumba, Moose Jaw Warriors defender Morgan Rielly, Edmonton Oil Kings defender Griffin Reinhart, or Portland Winterhawks defender Derrick Pouliot are worthy as the top defenders as well.
Yakupov is the clear cut top prospect. Adding Nail Yakupov next to Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent Hopkins will be pretty scary. Imagine Wayne Gretzky playing left wing, Mario Lemieux playing center, and Brett Hull playing right wing all on the same team and the same line with all 3 players playing in their prime. Basically, that’s what adding Nail Yakupov on a first line next to Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent Hopkins equates to down the road for the next two decades in Edmonton assuming the Oilers can keep all 3 players without going over the NHL salary cap.
Yakupov is the kind of player that can play wing on either side and step in on day 1 on a teams first line. The fact that the Oilers got him to pair up with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent Hopkins is simply insane.
The last team to pick #1 overall in 3 straight years was the Quebec Nordiques. The Nordiques took Matt Sundin, Owen Nolan, and Eric Lindros in 3 straight seasons. None of these players helped the Nordiques early in their career before becoming successful later in their career. The Nordiques would relocate to Colorado to establish a Stanley Cup dynasty with Joe Sakic and the rest of the Nordiques past is history.
The Edmonton Oilers faced the Boston Bruins in some great Stanley Cups back in the late 1988 Stanley when the Oilers had Wayne Gretzky and the Bruins had Ray Bourque. I think we will see an Oilers VS Bruins rematch in a few years with Edmonton’s addition to Yakupov plus Boston wanting to make one more run with the talent on their roster.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets Mikhail Grigorenko Center Quebec Remparts QMJHL The Columbus Blue Jackets will want to trade Rick Nash to add more picks. The Blue Jackets will need a new franchise right winger. What’s even worse is Columbus traded the Sean Couturier pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Jeff Carter who they traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline to gain an additional 2012 first round pick from the Kings.
The Columbus Blue Jackets front office is just as inept as the Cleveland Browns front office. Literally, if Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil was still on Comedy Central they would do an episode about which Ohio Sports franchise is more dysfunctional. Its not even worth poking fun about at this point.
Ohio sports fans who continue to support their teams through thick and thin are loyal. Cleveland had more ammunition than Washington and didn’t move up for Robert Griffin III. Columbus did not get Nail Yakupov who was arguably the one player their struggling organization needed for 2012. Two months ago things looked potentially promising for the state of Ohio if they managed their situation properly. Now things continue to look grim in the state of Ohio.
Mikhail Grigorenko has the versatility to play center or right winger as a two way forward. Grigorenko scored 40 goals and 45 assists in 2011-2012.
Columbus has Mark Letestu, Derick Brassard, and Ryan Johansen as centers. All of these are good centers on lines 2-4. None of these centers are line 1 material like Mikhail Grigorenko at this stage. The Blue Jackets should start Grigorenko out as a line 1 center.
The Blue Jackets could always flirt with the idea of adding one of the Fab 5 WHL defenders. I think the competition between the Fab 5 defenders is so even at this point. For now, Columbus goes best player available by adding Mikhail Grigorenko on offense.
3. Montreal Canadians Alex Galchenyuk Center Sarnia Sting OHL The Canadians desperately need a playmaker center. Yakupov clearly was not the same player this season without Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk will get selected here because both Montreal and Toronto are in the market for obtaining playmaker centers. Galchenyuk could realistically be the Canadians line 1 center on opening day even though he was out for most of the season in 2011 with an injury.
In 2010-2011, Galchenyuk had 31 goals, 52 assists, and 83 points as a rookie for the Sarnia Sting. In 2011-2012 Galchenyuk missed most of the regular season with an injury only playing in the Sting’s final 2 regular season games.
Galchenyuk would score 2 goals, 2 assists, and 4 points in 6 games in an opening round playoff loss to the Saginaw Spirit reverting to his old form. With Galchenyuk starting to recover at the right time, I could see him making a case to re-assert his top 5 draft status heading into the 2012 NHL draft season.
4. New York Islanders Filip Forsberg Left Wing Leksands Allsvenskan The New York Islanders have glaring needs on both offense and defense. The Islanders need more goal scorers. New York could also use some defenders with a lack of a defensive identity.
The 2012 NHL Draft is heavy at defense and thin on offense. The Islanders may take Forsberg 4th considering he is the best player available at this point. There are no other offensive players worth taking in the top 5. Essentially the Islanders would be forcing Toronto to take a defender 5th overall. It makes sense strategically since Toronto is stacked at defense while needing to address offense.
Forsberg scored 8 goals and 9 assists for Leksands in 2011-2012. Forsberg’s contract with Leksands runs through 2013 meaning he has to return to Leksands for one more season. Ryan Strome could develop with Niagara for another year in 2012. Then in 2013 the Islanders could call up both Strome and Forsberg and become a force in the Eastern Conference.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs Ryan Murray Defenseman Everett Silvertips WHL There are 5 WHL defenders known as the Fab 5. Toronto can take their pick between which fab 5 defender at #5 that they want. Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips, Matthew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels, Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings, Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors, and Derrick Pouliot of the Portland Winterhawks are all realistic options here. The Maple Leafs are forced to take one at #5 in this scenario. Murray has been the team captain of the Silvertips since age 16. Murray could return to Everrett for one or two more seasons for development.
The Maple Leafs already have Dion Phaneuf, John-Michael Liles, Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek, Carl Gunnarson, and Cody Franson on defense. The Maple Leafs are stacked on defense.
Look at the Fab 5 WHL defenseman. Here is a brief summary on each defender.
Defenseman A is a mentally disciplined defender with great leadership skills at both ends as a two way defender. He does not provide as much ceiling as Adam Larsson last years top defenseman drafted. His knowledge and understanding for the game of hockey makes defender A the safest defender to select in the 2012 NHL Draft. Defenseman A is ready to step into the NHL right now if you need them to mainly because of their mental discipline and uncanny intangibles on the ice. Defender A is Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips.
Defenseman B is an offensive defender that is ready to play in the NHL. Their defensive game could use some tuning. Defenseman B is prepared to make an instant impact in the NHL as a quarterback on the power play. Defenseman B provides a better offensive skill set than defender A as a two way defender. Defender B is Matthew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels.
Defenseman C is a injury prone defenseman that is capable of making an NHL roster right off the back as a rookie. You could easily argue that defenseman C needs one more year of developing in the WHL. Defenseman C is Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Defenseman D is a raw project. Defenseman D is a two way defender with more long potential than any of the other fab 5 defenders. Defenseman D has great size at 6 foot 4 200 pounds. The more I watch defender D the more I wonder why defender D isn’t the highest graded defender in the entire 2012 NHL Draft. Defenseman D helped his team sweep their opponents in the first two rounds of the WHL playoffs. Defenseman D has an ability to deliver once the playoffs begin by playing well in critical situations. Defender D is Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Defenseman E is a former #1 overall pick from the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft. This defender had a great supporting cast in the WHL with teammates like 2011 1st round pick Joe Morrow who got selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tyler Wotherspoon a 2011 2nd round prospect. Defender E is Derrick Pouliot of the Portland Winterhawks.
Go ahead and carefully examine all 5 defenders while watching film of each defender. Then decide which defender best fits the need of your NHL team if your organization opts to go defense. All 5 defenders should be top 10 selections.
I will give Toronto a defenseman here for the Maple Leafs to put in their system in this mock draft. What Murray did leading a Silvertips team that had the worst WHL record at midseason to the opening round of the WHL playoffs was most impressive. Murray seems like the safest pick among the 5 WHL defenseman at the moment. After all Murray was named assistant captain at age 15 as a rookie and was named team captain at age 16. You could easily make the case for any defender in the WHL.
In my next mock draft, I may give the Maple Leafs an OHL player on offense like Belleville Bulls center Brendan Gaunce or Radek Faksa of the Kitchener Rangers. I like the odds of the first 4 picks being offensive players at this point. I think the Maple Leafs might want to target an offensive playmaker with OHL experience on offense with this 5th pick.
6. Anaheim Ducks Matthew Dumba Defenseman Red Deer Rebels WHL Of the 5 WHL defenseman the one most likely to end up on the Anaheim Ducks is Matthew Dumba. The Ducks defense puts a heavy emphasis on offensive defenseman. Matthew Dumba is clearly the best fit for the Anaheim Ducks.
I think Matthew Dumba could get sent back to the WHL for one more year of development to improve the defensive aspects of his game.
7. Minnesota Wild Morgan Rielly Defenseman Moose Jaw Warriors WHL I think Minnesota wants a defenseman who can be NHL ready right now. Morgan Rielly is probably the most likely of the Fab 5 WHL defenders outside of Ryan Murray and Matthew Dumba to crack an NHL roster on opening day. Rielly may have some limited upside and some durability concerns. Rielly appears more NHL ready than any of the other fab 5 WHL defenders after Murray and Dumba.
I think Griffin Reinhart will have the better career. At the end of the day I see the WIld going with Morgan Rielly because he will be the higher graded defender even if he has less long term potential.
Morgan Rielly is capable of playing in the NHL right now. I would not be surprised if Minnesota sent Rielly back to Moose Jaw for the 2012 season since he missed most of the season with an injury.
8. Carolina Hurricanes Griffin Reinhart Defenseman Edmonton Oil Kings WHL The more I watch Reinhart the more I like him as the top defender in the entire 2012 NHL Draft. Reinhart is an athletic two way defender with huge potential. Reinhart is 6 foot 4 200 pounds. Reinhart is arguably the top defenseman at this spot.
I think Reinhart is capable of playing in the NHL right away. Reinhart could get sent back to the WHL for another season if a team is not impressed with his abilities during the NHL preseason.
9. Winnipeg Jets Radek Faksa Center Kitchener Rangers OHL Radek Faksa is a 6 foot 3 200 pound forward that can play left wing, center, or right wing. Faksa scored 29 goals, 38 assists, and 67 points in 2011-2012. THe Winnipeg Jets usually opt for OHL prospects. I see the Jets pursuing Radek Faksa here. Faksa can play in the OHL for one more season before making the jump to the NHL in 2013.
In two years from now Jets fans will talk about how Mark Schiefele a 2011 first round pick drafted 7th overall and Radek Faksa helped turn Winnipeg into a potential Eastern Conference contender.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning Derrick Pouliot Defenseman Portland Winterhawks WHL Pouliot could play on the Portland Winterhawks for one more season next to defenders like Joe Morrow and Tyler Wotherspoon. In 2013, Pouliot could get called up to Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay needs a defender to compliment Victor Hedman. Pouliot is the final WHL Fab 5 defender that rounds out the top 5 defenseman in this draft class.
11. Washington Capitals from Colorado Avalanche Jacob Trouba Defenseman USA Under 18 Team USHL Jacob Trouba has the ability to develop into a #2 defender on a first line. Trouba is a project at this stage. Some 2012 NHL mock drafts have Trouba in the top 10 after the Fab 5 defenseman. I could see Trouba getting selected 11th overall. Trouba provides tons of upside as a defenseman. Washington has the luxury of sending Trouba down to the Hershey Bears in the AHL until he develops.
12. Buffalo Sabres Cody Ceci Defenseman Ottawa 67′s OHL Cody Ceci has the size and offensive ability to be a great two way defender. Ceci tallied 9 goals, 25 assists, and 34 points in 2010-2011. In 2011-2012 Ceci recorded 17 goals, 43 assists, and 60 points. Ceci weighs 6 foot 2 203 pounds. Ceci would give Buffalo another blue liner to gradually develop in their system.
13. Dallas Stars Zemgus Girgensons Center Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL Zemgus Girgensons is probably not going to play in the NHL for at least 3 years. Girgensons displays great leadership as he was team captain on the Dubuque Fighting Saints in 2011-2012. Dallas likes to wait on their players to develop. Girgensons will play on Vermont for one season before making the jump to the WHL. Girgensons will probably then go to the AHL to develop his game. Girgensons offers uncanny intangibles.
The main question with Girgensons is will a team look past the fact that he has offers with other teams that could delay his arrival to the NHL?
An NHL team could be handsomely rewarded if they attempt to patiently develop Girgensons into an all pro center. Dallas has had a tendency of drafting players that go through the junior leagues and join the Texas Stars in the AHL before earning their stars on the Dallas Stars main roster.
14. Calgary Flames Brendan Gaunce Center Belleville Bulls OHL Brendan Gaunce is a 6 foot 2 215 pound center for the Belleville Bulls. Gaunce is a playmaker, sniper, and two way forward. Gaunce can play center or left wing as a two way forward.
In 2010-2011, Gaunce had 11 goals, 25 assists, and 36 points. In 2011-2012 Gaunce recorded 28 goals, 40 assists, and 68 points. Gaunce has the skill set to develop into a future line 1 center.
I could see Gaunce returning to the OHL for one more season to develop the final aspects to his all around game.
In 2013, the Flames will have Sven Bartschi a 2011 1st round pick that went 13th overall at left wing and possibly Brendan Gaunce ready to make the jump to the NHL assuming the Flames opt for Gaunce here.
15. Ottawa Senators Teuvo Teravainen Left Wing Jokerit SM Liiga The Ottawa Senators could afford to add a left winger. Teuvo Teravainen is the best winger available. Teravainen can play the wing on either side. In 40 games Teravainen scored 11 goals, 7 assists, and 18 points.
Teravainen can play with Jokerit for one more season before the Binghamton Senators call Taravainen up to their AHL team. The Binghamton Senators went from the 2011 Calder Cup Champion to the doormat of the AHL with the leagues worst record the following season. The Ottawa Senators went having one of the leagues 5 worst records to making the playoffs as an 8 seed. I’m sure the Senators called up a few players on their AHL team.
16. Washington Capitals Andrei Vasilevski Goalie UFA KHL The Washington Capitals could use a new goalie. Vasilevski had a save percentage above .930 in both of his two seasons with UFA. The Capitals have a thing for adding Russian prospects. Vasilevski is arguably the top goaltender on most NHL draft boards.
I like Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls, Collin Olson of the USA Under 18 USHL team, and Brandon Whitney of the Victoriaville Tigres better. The Capitals will love Vasilevski and many consider Vasilevski as the top keeper to obtain in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
17. Florida Panthers Sebastian Collberg Right Wing Frolunda Elitserien The Florida Panthers really could use more offense. Sebastian Collberg could really provide a spark for the Florida Panthers on offense at this spot. The Panthers have the luxury to take the best player available after building through the NHL Draft for so many years.
18. San Jose Sharks Matt Finn Defenseman Guelph Storm OHL Matt Finn is a quality two way defender. Finn respectively weighs in at 6 foot 200 pounds. Finn scored 3 goals, 18 assists, and 21 points in 60 games during the 2010-2011 regular season.
In 2011-2012 Finn continued to perform at a high level. Finn played 61 games scoring 10 goals, 38 assists, and 48 points for the Guelph Storm as an OHL defenseman.
19. Phoenix Coyotes Pontus Aberg Left Wing Djurgarden Elitserien I’m not sold on Mike Smith as a long term keeper. Smith had a great season going 38-18-10 in 66 games. Smith also allowed a 2.21 GAA. The Coyotes could always take a developmental goalie in the 2nd round anyway.
Pontus Aberg is a left winger who could be a dynamic playmaker and sniper. The Coyotes could put Aberg on their AHL squad after the 2013 season gradually letting Aberg work his way up the Coyotes roster.
20. Philadelphia Flyers Slater Koekkoek Defenseman Peterborough Petes OHL The 6 foot 2 183 pound defenseman is more of defensive defender than an offensive defender. The concern with Koekkoek is his size because defenders with that size can get abused on defense against forwards with a grinder like mentality.
Koekkoek only had 5 goals, 13 assists, and 18 points in 2011-2012. In 2010-2011 Koekkoek registered 7 goals, 16 assists, and 23 points. Koekkoek needs one or two more years with the Petes and possibly one year in the AHL too before joining the Flyers down the road.
Koekkoek has a chance to succeed on the Flyers with the right development. Slater is a major work in progress at this stage.
21. Buffalo Sabres from Nashville Predators Tom Wilson Right Wing Plymouth Whalers OHL Tom Wilson can play anywhere at forward with his versatility. Wilson weighs in at 6 foot 4 200 pounds. Wilson is a natural fit for Buffalo at this spot.
22. Vancouver Canucks Ludvig Bystrom Defenseman Modo Elitserien Ludvig Bystrom is an excellent defensive defender. Bystrom has the defensive skill set to become a blue liner that boosts the PK. Bystrom is arguably the best player available at this spot so you cannot blame Vancouver for taking Bystrom here.
23. Tampa Bay Lightning from Detroit Reds Wings Malcolm Subban Goalie Belleville Bulls OHL Malcolm Subban went 25-14 in the regular season with a 2.50 GAA. Subban recorded a .923 save percentage which was one of the best among OHL keepers. Subban should not make it past this selection because Dwayne Roloson really struggled in 2011.
Subban could return to Belleville for a year and potentially work his way up into a starting goaltender role for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014.
24. Boston Bruins Scott Kosmachuk Right Wing Guelph Storm OHL Scott Kosmachuk makes a lot of sense for the Boston Bruins. The Bruins love obtaining OHL players in round 1. In 2010, the Bruins took Tyler Seguin from the Plymouth Whalers. In 2011, the Bruins took Dougie Hamilton from the Niagara IceDogs. In 2012, the Bruins will add a winger from the OHL to continue the trend.
In 2010-2011 Kosmachuk played 68 games scoring 6 goals, 15 assists, and 21 points while seeing very limited action on a Guelph Storm 3rd line. In 2011-2012 Kosmachuk had a monster campaign. Kosmachuk scored 30 goals, generated 29 assists, and tallied 59 total points in 2011-2012 for the Guelph Storm. Kosmachuk scored 2 goals and 3 assists, and 5 points in 6 games for the Guelph Storm during their brief OHL playoff run before getting eliminated by the Plymouth Whalers in 6 games.
25. St. Louis Blues Olli Maata Defenseman London Knights OHL Maata has scored 1 goal, and 10 assists so far in the OHL playoffs for the London Knights. The London Knights have advanced to the OHL Western Conference Finals where they will face the winner of tonights game 7 contest between the 2 seed Plymouth Whalers and the 3 seed Kitchener Rangers.
Maata got drafted by the London Knights internationally after playing for Finland in the SM Liiga league. Maata is the best player available and the Blues have to take Maata at this point.
26. New York Rangers Brady Skjei Defenseman USA Under 18 Team USHL The Rangers add the best defender available at this spot. The New York Rangers have a lot more flexibility than people realize. The Rangers can go best player available here.
27. New Jersey Devils Tomas Hertl Center Slavia Czech Republic Tomas Hertl scored 12 goals, 13 assists, and 25 points in 38 regular season games for Slavia. The Devils will need a center. Hertl makes a lot of sense at this spot.
28. Chicago Blackhawks Hampus Lindholm Defenseman Rogle Elitserien Hampus Lindholm would be a great prospect that the Blackhawks could plug into their AHL system. Over time, Lindholm could work his way up the Blackhawks depth chart.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets from Los Angeles Kings Stefan Matteau Left Wing USA Under 18 Team USHL The Blue Jackets will need to add a left wing sniper to build around Grigorenko. Matteau will likely play in the QMJHL for a few years before going to the Blue Jackets AHL team. Matteau may not make it to the NHL. Columbus has to add a sniper to compliment Grigorenko with this pick.
Seth Ambroz can play left wing or right wing on either side. Ambroz was a 2011 NHL draft sleeper that Columbus obtained in the 5th round of last years NHL Draft. Ambroz currently plays college hockey for Minnesota. Ambroz could compete for a roster spot in Blue Jackets training camp next season.
30. Pittsburgh Penguins Martin Frk Right Wing Halifax Mooseheads QMJHL Martin Frk was once considered a top 10 talent. Frk really struggled to start the 2011-2012 season due to injuries which has caused his stock to slip. Honestly, I feel like the team that gets Frk will end up getting a draft steal.
In 2010-2011 Frk scored 22 goals, 28 assists, and 50 points in 62 games. In 2011-2012 Frk only managed to play 34 games. In those 34 regular season games, Frk had 16 goals, 13 assists, and 29 points. Frk has really stepped up for the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL playoffs. In his first 10 QMJHL playoff games, Frk has scored 4 goals, 6 assists, and 10 points. Halifax trailed the Quebec Remparts 3 games to none in the 2nd round of the QMJHL Playoffs. Halifax has won 3 straight games to force a game 7.
The Penguins would love to add a right winger to their system of prospects. Frk is clearly the best player available here late in round 1.