Thirty players into the 2012 NHL Draft and we’ve seen some amazing and unexpected choices. However, with Round Two set to begin in just a short while, here’s a brief rundown of the top-ten NHL Draft prospects still available to start the second round:
1.) Pontus Åberg, LW – Djurgården IF (Elitserien)
After a productive season in the Elitserien with Djurgården, where he put-up numbers superior to teammate, Mika Zibanejad in 2011; the speedy winger Pontus Åberg was shockingly passed over in round-one. Quick and nimble, Åberg can find a way through crowds and bury chances effectively.
Several scouts and analysts noted Åberg’s impressive intangibles including his significant work-ethic and compete-level. First-line roles He should produce at least at a second-line-level with special-teams upside when fully developed and provide effort in all 200 ft. of the rink.
2.) Sebastian Collberg, RW – Frölunda HC (Elitserien)
Sebastian Collberg’s impressive combination of offensive tools – a quick, devastatingly-accurate shot; an above-average distribution-game; fast feet and faster hands – should have made him a first-round pick. However, concerns stemming from his focus on the perimeter game, his thoroughly unproductive time in the Elitserien, and worries about his size and strength-levels were the likely culprits in his fall. Regardless, Collberg easily represents one of the best values in round-two and should be gone long before pick-40.
3.) Matt Finn, D – Guelph Storm (OHL)
The best defenseman available to start the second-round (actually, the best defenseman available since Olli Määttä landed with the Penguins), Matt Finn relies on his mobility and elite hockey-sense to maximize his effectiveness at both ends of the ice.
Finn’s size won’t impress and none of his other skills stand out of the crowd, but with his vision and poise with the puck and against attackers, Finn earns a lot of respect. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him gone after two picks in round-two.
4.) Oscar Dansk, G – Brynäs IF (Elitserien)
With Andrei Vasilevski and Malcolm Subban both gone, Oscar Dansk emerges as the definitive best goaltender remaining in the 2012 NHL Draft. As such, he should be picked fairly early (especially with several goalie-hungry squads like Columbus and Edmonton chomping at the bit in the early second-round).
He doesn’t have the ridiculously-high ceiling that the aforementioned tenders possess – but Dansk’s solid technique, great athleticism and poise should earn him a new team before long.
5.) Ludvig Bystrom, D – MoDo (Elitserien)
The understated Swedish blueliner, Ludvig Bystrom lacks the elite tools of his countryman, Hampus Lindholm (who went sixth overall to Anaheim). Still, he’s consistently doing the ‘little things’ teams need to be successful. A solid puck-mover who sees the play developing at both ends of the ice and has the hands to make crisp, tape-to-tape passes.
Despite his ‘finesse’ game, he is willing to throw open-ice hits (including big hipchecks). With added strength and understanding of defensive structure, Bystrom should develop into a solid top-four contributor.
6.) Phil Di Giuseppe, LW – University of Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)
It’s likely just a matter of a few picks before Michigan’s Phil Di Giuseppe becomes the first collegiate player off the draft-board in 2012. He’s an excellent all-around offensive player, though he lacks a true ‘plus’ skill. Projecting solidly as a top-six winger, suitors will key on his ability to produce (after 11 goals and 26 points in his freshman season in Ann Arbor) even if it means overlooking the rawness of his two-way game.
7.) Nicolas Kerdiles, F – U.S. NTDP U-18
The best forward on a defensive (and elite blueliner-laden) U.S. National Team, Nicolas Kerdiles looked a bit on an island at times. He can play the power or finesse came; he can finish or distribute at an above-average level. Some scouts and analysts have questioned Kerdiles’ hockey-sense and consistency. Still, he plays a solid 200 ft. game and should be off the board early on Saturday morning.
8.) Anton Slepyshev, LW - Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL)
On talent alone, Anton Slepyshev is a first-round prospect – perhaps deserving even loftier praise. However, his inconsistent compete-level marred an impressive season. He produced at an impressive level in the second-best League in the world (the KHL) as a seventeen year-old and wore the captain’s ‘C’ for his nation at the U-18 championships. Slepyshev’s shot is outstanding and he is very shifty. The ‘Russian’ factor labels him as a risky pick, even in the second round of this NHL Draft.
9.) Dalton Thrower, D – Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Gritty almost to a fault, Dalton Thrower possesses the sandpaper and toughness GM’s want to see in lower-talent blueliners. That said, his skillset is actually quite impressive as he can move the puck effectively and possesses above-average mobility to go with an advanced understanding of defensive hockey.
If Thrower develops as-planned, a middle-pairing role is in the cards – but even his ‘floor’ as a no-nonsense bottom-pairing rearguard who takes care of his own zone has solid value.
10.) Ville Pokka, D – Karpat (SM-liiga)
The last of the three ‘cerebral’ second-round-bound defensemen available in the second round of the NHL Draft, Ville Pokka is a quiet and effective puck-mover.
His upside is limited by modest physical tools – namely a below-average skating-game but his intelligence and play-reading makes up for it. With the right coaching and motivation, Pokka could evolve into a nice, middle-pairing, two-way defenseman who distributes the puck with aplomb.
Honorable Mentions: Daniil Zharkov (RW), Martin Frk (RW), Tim Bozon (F), Colton Sissons (C), Damon Severson (D), Pat Sieloff (D)
For more NHL Draft news, profiles and insight: Head over to THW’s Dedicated 2012 Draft Page - The Next Ones