The 2012 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Pittsburgh this coming Friday. It may be touted as the worst draft in the past decade, but that won’t stop The Hockey Writers from putting together another 2012 mock draft.
This mock draft will feature Fred Poulin (FP) of TheHockeyWriters.com and Corey Krakower (CK) of ProSportsBlogging.com. We will go back and forth acting as the General Managers for the 30 NHL teams as they make their first round selections.
FP: The best player available in this year’s crop, Yakupov is the consensus choice among draft experts. Yakupov is a very skilled player that can do it all on the ice and who will complement an already potent offensive group of players including players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.
CK: I’m going with a slight curveball here. Howson loves his defense, and with a pending Rick Nash trade, he needs immediate help up front. In Forsberg, they get someone who can play all 3 forward positions, and a NHL-ready player in terms of size and strength. Forsberg is this year’s Gabriel Landeskog.
FP: Despite his injury-depleted season, Galchenyuk is a very talented forward that is ready to make an impact at the NHL level. The Canadiens desperately need help up front to complement their small offensive group. Gally is a dynamic player that will be a mainstay for the Habs in the next few years.
CK: 4 – New York Islanders: Ryan Murray – D (Everett, WHL)
CK: The Islanders would be thrilled to get Murray here. After years of drafting forwards, its time the focus shifts to defense. Murray is a solid, well-rounded defenseman who will join a promising group of young D including Travis Hamonic, Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan.
FP: The Maple Leafs are in dire need of a big and strong centre to play with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul on the team’s first line. Grigorenko’s stock plummeted as the season unfolded since he played most of the season with a bout of mononucleosis. The über-talented forward will be a very good offensive player that is already acclimated to the North American style of play.
CK: The probable loss of Justin Schultz to a CBA loophole results in a major void in the Ducks organization on defense. Reinhart is a big body at 6’4 who can play a strong defensive game and has started to chip in more and more offensively as he has matured as a player. He was arguably Edmonton’s best player on their road to the Memorial Cup tournament.
FP: After selecting Mikael Granlund two years ago, the Wild has a weakness for Finnish players. Imagine a Granlund-Koivu-Teräväinen line dominating the NHL two years from now and you would think the Wild has always been an offensive force, despite years of defensive play. The speedy Teräväinen might be the most electrifying and talented player in this year’s crop.
CK: 8 – Carolina Hurricanes: Morgan Rielly – D (Moose Jaw, WHL)
CK: If there was a fastest skater competition for the 2012 draft prospects, Rielly would probably clock in with the fastest time. He is decent defensively, but the Hurricanes draft Rielly in this spot for his world class speed and his elite puck moving ability. Having said that, perhaps Carolina trades this pick to Pittsburgh in a package for Jordan Staal. Anything can happen on the draft floor.
FP: 9 – Winnipeg Jets: Brendan Gaunce – C (Belleville, OHL)
FP: Gaunce is a player that can contribute in a number of ways. The two-way forward can distribute and shoot the puck and he is not afraid to use his large frame to battle the puck along the boards and head into the high-traffic areas. The Jets need a player like Gaunce to complement Evander Kane on the team’s top-line.
CK: There is a lot to like about Dumba’s game. He is a ferocious hitter, he has good wheels and he can put up points. Tampa has a huge organizational void on the blue line, and adding Dumba would be a big positive for the Lightning. Despite being undersized for a D, Dumba projects as a top 4 – shutdown defenseman.
FP: The latest Kitchener Rangers import, Faksa had a great rookie season after coming to North America this season. Faksa owns a hard accurate shot with good velocity, great playmaking hands and above-average puck protection skills. Faksa would nicely complement Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson on an all-European centre line in Washington.
CK: Since we are playing GMs, I am furious with FP right now as he stole the perfect pick for Buffalo in Faksa. Girgensons has good size and could very well become a solid second line center, but he doesn’t have the same offensive upside as a player like Faksa. Nevertheless, he is a solid two-way player and there are plenty of intangibles to like…especially his tenacious work ethic.
FP: 13 – Dallas Stars: Olli Määttä – D (London, OHL)
FP: The Stars’ lack of depth on defense made that choice easy as Määttä was brilliant in the playoffs this season for London. The Finnish defenseman is a smooth-skating rearguard who can contribute in both zones thanks to a great hockey IQ, excellent defensive positioning and good first passes. Määttä also played at the Memorial Cup this season, gaining valuable experience along the way.
CK: Jacob Trouba could end up going in the top 10 of this draft, so the Flames are thrilled that he is available at this spot. That is especially considering their embarrassing lack of depth on defense. Trouba does everything well, but he is not “elite” at any one thing, which is perhaps why he slid down. With Trouba, you’re getting a guy who can play in all situations and eat up minutes.
FP: 15 – Ottawa Senators: Sebastian Collberg – W (Frolunda, Sweden)
FP: First and foremost a goal-scorer, Collberg is boasting a lightning quick release and an explosive shot. The Senators are desperately needing a goal-scoring winger to help Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek carry the offensive load. Collberg is a quick skater blessed with top-notch hockey instincts that help him get quality scoring chances.
CK: 16 – Washington Capitals: Cody Ceci – D (Ottawa, OHL)
CK: A few years ago, I was coaching in a tournament and my team lost in the Semifinals to a team that had the 2 best defensemen I had ever coached against. I checked the scoresheet after the game – they were Cody Ceci and Scott Harrington. Ceci is a rock on the blueline, he is physically mature and he rarely makes mistakes. Given that Washington took Faksa earlier, they go with a D here.
FP: 17 – San Jose Sharks: Derrick Pouliot – D (Portland, WHL)
FP: The smooth-skating Pouliot is an offensive-minded defenseman who knows to run a power-play. Dubbed the best passing defenseman of this class, Pouliot will replace Dan Boyle as the Sharks’ go-to-guy on the power play in a few years down the road.
CK: The Blackhawks have a wealth of talent in their prospect pool, so they can afford to take a bit of a risk here. It’s a risk drafting a goalie in the first round, and it’s also a risk drafting a Russian; but Vasilevski is worth it. He is technically sound, he is typically consistent, and he has the size you want in a goalie nowadays. This pick is a toss up between Vasilevski and Malcolm Subban.
FP: 19 – Tampa Bay Lightning (via Detroit): Nicolas Kerdiles – F (US-NTDP, USHL)
FP: Kerdiles’ game revolves around his physical play, positioning and shot, while he has improved his defensive play this season. He has the necessary skating, shooting and passing skills to compete at the higher level. However, Kerdiles will need to continue developing steadily if he wants to make an impact playing alongside Steven Stamkos in a few years.
CK: 20 – Philadelphia Flyers: Slater Koekkoek – D (Peterborough, OHL)
CK: Paul Holmgren loves to go for the home run, and drafting Koekkoek is just that. He only played 26 games this year, and many believe that had he been healthy, he could easily be a top 10 pick with his combination of speed and compete level. The Flyers desperately need an infusion of defense into their organization, so this pick makes a ton of sense for them.
FP: 21 – Buffalo Sabres (via Nashville): Henrik Samuelsson – C/RW (Edmonton, WHL)
FP: An absolute offensive dynamo, Samuelsson possesses great puck skills and he’s good at finding his teammates on the ice. Hard to handle because of his size, Samuelsson is great at shielding the puck from his opponents and is great on the fore-check. Look for him to fit nicely in Buffalo as the middle lane is not very strong.
CK: 22 – Pittsburgh Penguins: Thomas Wilson – RW (Plymouth, OHL)
CK: Wilson and the Penguins are a match made in heaven. He projects as a complimentary-type top 6 forward that would excel in the right situation. He has decent offensive skills, but it’s his willingness to forecheck hard, finish his hits and go to the net that make him an excellent prospect. His speed is a bit of a concern, but his 6’4 frame makes it tough to pass up on him.
FP: 23 – Florida Panthers: Scott Laughton – C (Oshawa, OHL)
FP: While Laughton is not the most talented player of the draft, he is certainly one of the most combative and hard-working players available. Despite a relatively average frame, he plays a determined, physical and smart game while remaining valuable to his team in all situations, quality that will complement finesse players such as Jonathan Huberdeau and Stephen Weiss for the improving Panthers.
CK: 24 – Boston Bruins: Hampus Lindholm – D (Rogle, Sweden)
CK: Like when Dougie Hamilton shockingly slipped to them a few years ago, the Bruins are shocked that Lindholm is available at this point in the draft. Lindholm is the typical Swedish defenseman: good size, good skating, smart and well-rounded. He is the type of player scouts are talking about when they say “it’s a good thing if you don’t notice a defenseman.”
FP: 25 – St. Louis Blues: Colton Sissons- C/RW (Kelowna, WHL)
FP: While his numbers don’t jump off the page, Sissons brings a complete, well-rounded game to the rink every night. He skates hard and plays with edge, and he has high hockey IQ and a great three-zone game. Sissons will never be a point-per-game player in the NHL, but he will certainly prove valuable to the Blues organization.
CK: 26 – Vancouver Canucks: Matthew Finn – D (Guelph, OHL)
CK: Matthew Finn is similar to Hampus Lindholm in the sense that both are defensemen that play an effective, low-key game. Finn would vault right to the top of Vancouver’s prospect depth chart, since they don’t have any young D in the organization that project as potential top 4 blueliners.
FP: 27 – Phoenix Coyotes: Timothy Bozon – LW (Kamloops, WHL)
FP: The son of former St. Louis Blues forward Philippe Bozon, he recorded 71 point sin 71 games in his first season in the CHL. Bozon has tremendous hands and puck skills that complement well his great skating. With the lack of depth at forward in Phoenix, the tea, was in dire need of a young and dynamic forward to improve side of our game.
CK: I would have loved to have gone with the emotional pick here in Stefan Matteau, but Matheson makes too much sense. The Rangers have a ton of very good forwards in their system, but are limited on defense past McIlrath and Erixon. Matheson is an unbelievable skater, boasts a tremendous hockey IQ and has great work ethic and character.
FP: 29 – New Jersey Devils: Pontus Äberg – LW (Djurgarden, Sweden)
FP: A lightning-fast skater, Äberg is blessed with very good vision, a strong shot and keen instincts. A shooter rather than a passer, he has a lot of different tools in his arsenal which should help him make an easy transition to the Swedish Elite League before he makes the jump to North America. The Devils are not afraid to draft Swedish players as they had great success in recent years, especially last year when the picked Adam Larsson in the first round.
CK: The Kings have the luxury of having good depth across the board, so they can really just take the best player available. That player is Tomas Hertl, who is one of the better prospects to come out of the Czech Republic in recent years. He is very much like fellow countryman Tomas Plekanec. The two are effective at both ends of the rink, and have no trouble finding the scoresheet.