An April 2012 NHL Mock Draft (Full First Round)

Now that the Edmonton Oilers will have the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft for an astounding third time in three years, things are beginning to shape up near the top of the draft board. The number one question still remains though: will the Oilers pick a dynamic offensive threat, or a potential franchise defenseman? Other questions remain as well. Will the Columbus Blue Jackets pick a Russian player, or pass on one like so many expect them to do? Does Toronto end up taking a blueliner, or do they look to add a highly skilled forward?

For those looking for A March 2012 NHL Mock Draft, you can view it here.

With the questions above in mind, here is my April 2012 NHL Mock Draft:

Edmonton_Oilers_Logo1.jpg1. Nail Yakupov F (Sarnia Sting) (OHL)

This selection may not seem right to all Edmonton Oilers fans, but the Oilers don’t really have a choice here. Taking a defenseman first overall just isn’t the right move in this situation. If they decide to keep this pick, they just can’t pass on Yakupov. At the moment, it seems likely that the Oilers will consider moving this pick to gain the assets they need. Many people could see them trading down even just one spot, to acquire an established immediate-impact NHLer, plus a high first-round selection. Yakupov is the best player available, and he’s the clear number one choice to go first overall. In this case, the Oilers would be smart to select the best player available. It’s almost certain that Yakupov will be in the National Hockey League next season, but the real question is whether or not he’ll be wearing an Edmonton uniform.

2. Ryan Murray D (Everett Silvertips) (WHL)

Assuming the Columbus Blue Jackets don’t trade this pick, a dynamic offensive weapon is what they need, but a steady blueliner will do just fine. Murray is the best defender available in this draft, and with the Blue Jackets not likely to be very interested in taking Mikhail Grigorenko, Murray fits the bill. Murray is the complete package; he has offensive abilities, a physical side to his game, he’s a natural leader, plus he’s stable on the back-end. Since he could be a future team captain, it would be difficult for Columbus to pass on him here.

3. Mikhail Grigorenko F (Quebec Remparts) (QMJHL)

If Grigorenko is available here, the Canadiens have no real choice but to take him. The potential for stardom is just too great for them to pass on. Grigorenko had a tremendous regular season playing in Quebec this year, and there will surely be a lot of pressure on the Habs to take a player from the QMJHL. A big centerman is exactly what the Canadiens need, and Grigorenko is the best one available in this position. At six-foot-three, 200 pounds, Grigorenko would add size to the Habs’ lineup, and could become a fan favourite very quickly.

4. Filip Forsberg F (Leksands) (Sweden)

This is the highest Forsberg has been rated in my series of mock drafts this season. Though many would like to see the Islanders take a defenseman such as Mathew Dumba in this position, Dumba didn’t have a great second half of the year. The Islanders continue to have needs at both ends of the ice, so a skilled forward like Forsberg fits what they’re looking for. John Tavares still needs a dynamic talent to work with, and since Ryan Strome isn’t quite ready yet, Forsberg would be a smart choice.

Toronto Maple Leafs logo5. Alex Galchenyuk F (Sarnia Sting) (OHL)

Even though it’s early, this pick could ultimately become one of the steals of the draft. Galchenyuk has the talent to be the second overall selection behind only his teammate Nail Yakupov, but an injury-filled season drops him to the five-hole. International Scouting Services Head Scout Ross MacLean said, “Galchenyuk is an offensively creative player and is very intelligent around the puck. With his offensive side, when you are able to do that kind of stuff with the puck, you don’t get a lot of players with that potential to be dominant.” That’s certainly a player Leafs fans should be happy with.

6. Mathew Dumba D (Red Deer Rebels) (WHL)

It’s interesting how mock drafts work out. Even though Dumba is arguably the best-defenseman available, he drops to number six. Yes, there are many who believe Cody Ceci, Morgan Rielly, and Jacob Trouba should go before him, but I still believe Dumba is a top talent. As a result, he doesn’t slide past the Ducks. Due to his hard open-ice hits, he’s already being called the next Dion Phaneuf. Though he’s falling back three spots here compared to last month’s mock draft,  Dumba is still a strong, swift skater with a big shot, and could work well with Anaheim’s offensive talent.

7. Jacob Trouba D (USNDP) (USHL)

Trouba has shot up draft rankings all season long, and even earned a spot on the American World Junior team as a seventeen-year-old. On a team that finished well below expectations, Trouba stood out, and appeared comfortable playing against some of the top players in junior hockey. A native of Rochester, Michigan, Trouba seems like almost the perfect fit for the Wild, and was also taken by them in last month’s mock draft as well. Trouba has some very tall men in his family, so the potential for even more physical growth is still very much there. With offensive prospects such as Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, and Jason Zucker likely to be in the Wild’s lineup next season, a rising defenseman like Trouba seems to be the logical choice.

8. Morgan Rielly D (Moose Jaw Warriors) (WHL)

Like many other top prospects, injuries have derailed Rielly’s season. He was only able to play 18 games for the Warriors, as knee surgery ended his season. Regardless, it was clear before the injury occurred that Rielly would be one of the top players available for selection in the draft. The Hurricanes did select offensive defenseman Ryan Murphy in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft, but as the fifth best North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting, passing on Rielly in the eight-spot wouldn’t be the right thing to do at the moment.

9. Cody Ceci D (Ottawa 67’s) (OHL)

Ceci has been one of the most-improved players in this year’s draft class. Prior to the start of the season, he wasn’t even thought to be first round pick material. That’s all changed now, as there are many scouts who believe he should be a top-ten selection. I most certainly agree. Ceci has had an outstanding season in Ottawa this year, and turned himself into arguably their best defenseman. He’s currently facing off against Winnipeg’s first round pick from last year, Mark Scheifele, in a playoff series against Scheifele’s team, the Barrie Colts. A blueliner like Ceci is exactly what the Jets would love to have.

10. Radek Faksa F (Kitchener Rangers) (OHL)

To all the Lightning fans out there who were expecting to see Griffin Reinhart’s name in this position, I apologize, but I just couldn’t give him to the Lightning three mock drafts in a row. Fortunately for you, Radek Faksa is no consolation prize, as he’s one of the top forwards available in the draft. Many think Faksa will go higher than this, but with the wealth of talent at the top of the draft, he slips to number ten. Having Faksa play with Steven Stamkos in the future could be an unstoppable force at some point down the road.

11.  Griffin Reinhart D (Edmonton Oil Kings) (WHL)

With Tampa Bay passing on him, Reinhart winds up with Washington, and Caps management couldn’t be happier. A big defenseman like Reinhart is precisely what the team needs. This six-foot four, two hundred pound blueliner from the Edmonton Oil Kings has all the tools needed to have a successful pro career. Besides his powerful shot, scouts will also tell you that his mobility on the ice is another strength. The Capitals have a wealth of offensive talent up front, so a large, steady blueliner fits their needs very well.

12. Brendan Gaunce F (Belleville Bulls) (OHL)

This is the highest I’ve ever placed Gaunce in my series of mock drafts. However, his play recently has earned him this high of a selection. There’s a chance that Gaunce could end up going in the top ten if a team is really high on his potential. However, there is just too much talent for that to realistically happen. He’s the younger brother of Colorado Avalanche prospect Cameron Gaunce, and is regularly noted for his hockey sense and great vision on the ice. If Brendan can perform well for Canada at the World Under-18 tournament, he could dramatically improve his draft stock.

13. Teuvo Teravainen F (Jokerit) (Finland)

Teravainen wasn’t high on many draft lists throughout the season, but has recently risen to a place near the top ten. The Stars have looked towards Finland for offense (Jere Lehtinen), meaning Teravainen is a good candidate to go there. He’s regularly noted for his agility and quickness moving around the ice, and also has great puckhandling skills. This has allowed him to become a star goal-scorer. Some may consider this pick to be a stretch, but come draft day, this is a very probable spot for him.

14. Olli Maatta D (London Knights) (OHL)

This is a familiar spot for Maatta, as he also went fourteenth overall in last month’s mock draft. Though there are many people who believe Maatta could fall in this first round to somewhere in the 20-23 range, I still believe he’s a top fifteen talent. Seeing him on a regular basis has shown me that not only is Maatta reliable in his own end, but he also has solid offensive abilities. He’s not a defenseman that’s very aggressive in terms of hitting, but this Finnish blueliner is not afraid to drop the mitts, as shown when he fought Guelph Storm forward Tyler Bertuzzi. Calgary would be a great landing spot for Maatta.

15. Sebastian Collberg F (Frolunda) (Sweden)

Collberg’s a small winger, but he really makes up for it with his high skill level. He specializes in moving around the perimeter of the opposing team’s zone, and he’s able to do that because of his great agility. The Senators are known for their solid Swedish core right now, with captain Daniel Alfredsson, star defenseman Erik Karlsson, as well as top prospect Mika Zibanejad. Adding another one in Collberg wouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The five-foot-eleven right-winger would be an ideal fit for Ottawa.

There you have the first half of my April 2012 NHL Mock Draft. The second half of this month’s mock draft will be a player ranking, as the first round of the playoffs is not over, and the focus here should be on the players, not on who I’m picking to win the Stanley Cup.

16. Matt Finn D (Guelph) (OHL) He’s been a major riser on draftboards this season, and has earned top-twenty status.

17. Derrick Pouliot D (Portland Winterhawks) (WHL) Another swift, puck-moving defenseman from the WHL goes in the first round. He’ll be a project, but he should be worth it in the long-run.

18. Slater Koekkoek D (Peterborough Petes) (OHL) His season was derailed by an injury, but Koekkoek still has potential to be a solid blueliner in the pros.

19. Pontus Aberg F (Djurgarden) (Sweden) Has tremendous speed, skating, and skill, all combined with superb goal-scoring ability. Could be a big-time sleeper.

20. Tom Wilson F (Plymouth Whalers) (OHL) In one word he’s an absolute beast. Plays a very similar style of game as Milan Lucic.

21. Nicholas Kerdiles F (USNTDP) (USHL) Had a fantastic tournament for the Americans at the Under-18’s. Tallied five points in the gold medal game.

22. Zemgus Girgensons F (Dubuque Fighting Saints) (USHL) Highly talented and powerful. Still very raw, but could be a force in the future. Committed to play for the University of Vermont next season.

23. Brady Skjei D (USNTDP) (USHL) Solid, mobile blueliner. Very driven, and has pushed his way up draft charts all season. Committed to the University of Minnesota for next season.

24. Scott Laughton F (Oshawa Generals) (OHL) Made a big push recently to get himself into first-round conversation. Was solid at the Under 18’s.

25. Stefan Matteau F (USNTDP) (USHL) Made a splash by deciding to play in the QMJHL next season. Could go anywhere from first-round to mid-second.

26. Colton Sissons F (Kelowna Rockets) (WHL) Captains the Rockets, but could ultimately end up going much lower than this. Still a question mark.

27. Phillip Di Giuseppe F (University of Michigan) Surprised many people by making a huge push to make Canada’s World Junior roster in December.

28. Hampus Lindholm F (Rogle) (Sweden) TSN Scout Craig Button has him in his top ten list. At this point, I can’t see that happening.

29. Daniil Zharkov F (Belleville Bulls) (OHL) Had a great season with the Bulls, and pushed himself into many first round mock drafts. Consistency is key.

30. Martin Frk F (Halifax Mooseheads) (QMJHL) Has way too much potential to slip very far in this draft.

 

That wraps up my April 2012 NHL Mock Draft and player rankings. Hopefully you enjoyed it. As always, feedback is encouraged. Please feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail if you have any questions.

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David OConnor

David OConnor

David O'Connor is a managing editor with the Sunbelt Hockey Journal. His writing has been on the Los Angeles Times' website, among other places. O'Connor also does some scouting work for the local Junior B hockey club. Please feel free to contact him at davidoconnorhockey@gmail.com.
David OConnor
Wrote on how @AttackOHL's Petrus Palmu is finding a competitive edge up top that translates to the ice: http://t.co/Cjjsu3NE45. #NHLDraft - 2 weeks ago

30 Comments

  1. BTW CBJ might possibly draft Murray because of his leadership and character, but they are rather deep in defensive talent. On the other hand, if they trade Nash, they will have no wings worthy of a top line slot unless they get on eback as part of the trade. Given how solid they are down the middle with Johansen, Jenner and Brassard, they’d have to be really sold on Murray, Grigo or Galy to draft one of them instead of Forsberg.

  2. I’m not certain the Habs will pick Grigorenko at #3 after a very poor playoff performance with the Remparts this season. Grigorenko was invisible in the series against the Mooseheads and even head coach Patrick Roy said he needs one more junior year to be ready.

    • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

      Thanks for the thoughts, Fred. Keep in mind that the first half of this mock draft came out over a week ago. For the purpose of consistency, I kept it the same when I added the second half. Next month’s mock draft may look a lot different than this one, as numerous players have raised (or lowered) their draft stock in the last week or so.

  3. “28. Hampus Lindholm F (Rogle) (Sweden) TSN Scout Craig Button has him in his top ten list. At this point, I can’t see that happening.” He also has Olli Maatta and Dalton Thrower outside his top 60, and Mark Jankowski (???) at 15th.  The man has some strange opinions (last year he thought Dougie Hamilton would fall out of the top 10–I was astonished when he fell to 9th, but then defensemen always seem to fall on draft day).

  4. Isles just do not draft defense early. They draft later and develop on defense. If they were to draft defense, it would likely be Rielly. Forsberg is a possibility, but I suspect (and hope) Garth picks Galchenyuk if he is still on the board at #4.

    Don’t agree that Isles “needs” are that great. With the way they are accumulating talent on offense and developing it on defense, they will be a contender a lot sooner than anyone thinks. Apart from that, however, I do not understand the Strome comment. He probably isnt quite NHL ready, but neither is Forsberg. Both are likely at least a year away. 

    • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

      Hey, thanks for the comment. Like I said in the comment below, at this point, in my opinion, if he gets drafted there, Forsberg has a higher chance of making the team next year than Strome.

    • Why would it be Rielly? It would never be Rielly at 4. I suspect they would pick Murray, Dumba, Reinhart, Trouba, and Ceci all before they considered Rielly. 

      • Rielly is the most dynamic offensive defenseman and offers skill they don’t have in their system. I’d put him before Ceci, Trouba and Reinhart for sure. To me, Donovan is as good as Murray and I am just not sold on Dumba. Rielly would be the most likely candidate to replace Streit’s offensive production.

        Of course, its all moot. I am convinced that Isles will select  a F–either Forsberg or Galchenyuk.

        • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

          I agree that Rielly is one of the most dynamic defensemen available, and will likely go ahead of Ceci and Reinhart, as I have happening in the mock draft above. However, I wouldn’t put Matt Donovan on the same level as Ryan Murray.

        • Ceci and Reinhart will both go before Rielly at the draft. Rielly missed the whole season, while Ceci had an MVP-year in the OHL, and Reinhart had a great year and teams love d-men with size. Rielly will go in the 10-15 range IMO.

        • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

          I can’t agree with that first statement of yours, Joe. Rielly played 18 games this season, and averaged a point a game. While he missed a lot of action, he’s shown that he’s one of the best blueliners available. Yes, Ceci and Reinhart had terrific seasons, but it’s not realistic to believe Rielly will fall to number fifteen.

  5. How many 30 goal seasons does Matt Moulson need before people stop saying John Tavares needs a sniper on his line? 

  6. Im  happy with whoever the leafs get we have a chance at anyone aside of yakupov in the top 5 depending on who the other teams like.

  7. “And since Ryan Strome isn’t ready yet”- Forsberg is not ready yet either. They are both prospects. 

    • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

      Thanks for the comment Joe. At this point, in my opinion, if he’s drafted by New York, Forsberg has a higher chance of making the team next year than Strome.

      •  out of curiosity, what makes you think that? I watched him at the world juniors and he wasn’t anything special there.

        • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

          It isn’t really fair to judge the performance of draft eligible players at the World Juniors. They’re playing against opponents who are bigger, stronger, and have had more experience playing against the world’s best in their age group.

          While Forsberg wasn’t able to dominate in the WJC’s, it came as no real surprise. That he was even able to make the team and get decent ice tiem shows that he’s a top talent. If you watched him at the Under 18’s, playing against his own age group, he was clearly a step ahead.

        •  fair enough, i can understand that but with that said, next year he would be playing against players who are bigger, stronger, older and more experienced. not only that but, his opponents would be NHL caliber, not junior.

          i don’t discount his results against players his own age group, all i’m saying is that if he can’t perform against opponents only a few years older than him, then he isn’t ready to make the step up to the
          NHL quite yet. In a few years, sure. He could even be as dominant as an alfredsson or a sundin but his chances of making the squad over Strome… then again, how good is strome? Neiddereiter killed junior and nhl pre-season and since then hasn’t really done a whole lot..

        • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

          Thanks for the comments, you’ve made some very fair points. In terms of being ready to step into the NHL, I agree that he probably isn’t ready. However, in terms of making the team, it wouldn’t surprise me if he made the team out of camp and played a few games at the start of the season. That way, he wouldn’t burn up the first year of his contract.

          Granted, this whole conversation is based him getting drafted by the Islanders. If he gets chosen by another team, the scenario clearly looks much different.

        •  no problem, thanks for the article. i really enjoyed it. I like dumba @ 4 myself but that’s just me. i’ll be looking forward to the next mock draft.

        • His chances of making the Islanders would be a lot different as opposed to which bottom 10 team? None of the bottom ten have a top six as good as the Islanders. Their top line is worthy of comparison production-wise w/ any in the NHL. The only way Forsberg has a prayer of making the team this coming year is if Isles do not re-sign PA Parenteau who was 3rd on the NYI with 67 points tied w/ Pavel Datsyuk and ahead of a rather eye-popping list of NHL talent.

          http://www.nhl.com/ice/playerstats.htm?season=20112012&gameType=2&team=&position=S&country=&status=&viewName=summary&pg=2

          IMHO the chances of either Strome or Forsberg making the Isles next year if the Isles draft Forsberg are about even. Forsberg has the experience of playing against men but in a weaker SEL division and he has no North American experience which would be an adjustment Strome would not have to make.. Also, although it’s not an insurmountable obstacle, Forsberg is under contract with Leksands next year.

          The odds might be better for Galchenyuk making the Isles next year given his 6’3″ 205 size. That’s a little iffy as well though since he missed most of this past season due to injury.

        • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

          Let’s look at a team like Columbus. In the last couple weeks, Forsberg has been mentioned as a strong candidate to go number two. Columbus would be more likely to keep Forsberg than the Islanders, as many would say Forsberg is physically ready, and Columbus has a much higher need for immediate help than New York. Assuming the contract issues can be sorted out, he could very well end up playing the whole season for them.

        • Saulpaulus says:

          OK, I misunderstood you. Yes, if Nash is traded, Columbus would be more likely to want to try to put Forsberg right on their roster. I’d be wary of rushing him though. Another year on Leksands would give him a chance to fill out more (he’s only about 180 pounds) and develop.

  8. ha nice thanks for changing it. might want to double-check things like that next time before hitting the submit button.

  9. I really do not see the Jets drafting another defenseman.  They already have quite a few good ones.  Bogo, Enstrom, Byflugien, Clitsome, Flood, Stuart.

    Personally, I’d like if the Jets traded up and got the Center they actually need.  They do not need anymore D men.  Enstrom and 9th pick for the 1st pick from Edmonton.  Or since Columbus is so weary of Russian players.  Enstrom and 9th pick for 2nd pick and take Grigorenko or Galyenchuk.

    • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

      Thanks for the comment. At that point in the draft, defenseman are the best players available. Unless Galchenyuk ends up sliding to the nine spot (highly unlikely), or the Jets’ brass are big fans of Faksa, a blueliner is likely who gets chosen there.

      Of course the Jets would like to trade up to get Yakupov or Grigorenko, any team would, but it’s more a question of whether one of the teams at the top is willing to trade down. Regarding the trade you suggested, I wouldn’t do it if I was either Edmonton, Columbus, or even Montreal. The Jets would need to offer much more if they wanted to move up that high. Assuming they hold the ninth pick, their selection all depends on who’s available.

  10. Maatta’s a really good fit with the Flames, considering how little defensive depth they have in their system (especially with the graduation of T.J. Brodie).  Exactly the kind of defenseman they need right now with solid all-around ability (though there is still a need for offensive defenders, it’s reasonable to assume that Giordano and Brodie will be around for a while; maybe Derick Smith too).

  11. With Ottawa picking three forwards last year in the first round, and with their lack of defensive depth after the David Rundblad trade, don’t you think the Sens would go for a defenseman rather than another forward?

    With Ottawa lacking a 2nd round pick, and with potential offensive D-men such as Hampus Lindholm, Ludwig Bystrom, Derrick Pouliot and Brady Skjei available  at Ottawa’s (potential) 15th pick, wouldn’t these prospects fill the team need more so than Collberg?      

    • David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

      Great question, Tony. I don’t believe the defensive talent is good enough in this spot for one to be taken here. As of today, Pouliot is the only one who could go in this area.

      With Jared Cowen having such a solid rookie year, I don’t think the Sens look for defense in this spot when they could find some a little later in the draft. If Collberg is still available in this position, I believe the Senators won’t let him get past them.

      • I agree with your points. I could see the Sens trading down in the draft to possibly get a late first rounder and possibly a 2nd rounder. And then taking one of these D-men to add to their prospect pool.

        With all the great moves GM Bryan Murray has made this year, I could see him pulling off an awesome trade like this at the draft. But all of this could mean nothing if the Sens go all the way !  ;) 

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