Welcome to a brand new series here at The Hockey Writers called “Road to the Draft.” In this series, our draft contributors will count down from 32nd overall all the way to first overall and revisit each player taken with that pick between 2010 and 2020.
The goal of this series is to reflect on some of the biggest steals and some of the biggest busts taken in the first round over the past ten years, as well as to shine a light on those players who might see themselves taken with the corresponding pick at the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft.
There have been some special players selected at 12th overall. Whether it be Hall-of-Famer Marian Hossa, an NHL journeyman like Alex Tanguay, or a franchise favourite like Tony Tanti, teams have been successful with the 12th-overall pick. Based on projected draft positions, the Calgary Flames will be getting a future NHLer in this spot. The selection belonged to the Chicago Blackhawks, but because the Arizona Coyotes forfeited the 11th pick, everyone moved up to give Calgary that pick.
Current NHLers drafted 12th overall include former Calder-winner Tyler Myers in 2008 and back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Ryan McDonagh in 2007. In the last decade, it has been a mixed bag of hits and misses but the pick has mostly produced valuable players who have had successful NHL careers.
2010- Cam Fowler (D, Anaheim Ducks)
When the Anaheim Ducks selected Cam Fowler from the Windsor Spitfires, they were hoping to get the next Scott Niedermayer: a defenceman who would be near the top of league scoring and be consistently nominated for the Norris. He had a great rookie season with 40 points in 70 games and finished eighth in Calder voting in 2011.
Since then, Fowler has developed into a strong top-pairing defenceman who can consistently score 20-30 points a season. Although he hasn’t turned into the Norris Trophy-winning defenceman Anaheim hoped, he was a great pick at 12th overall. He is the franchise leader in points by a defenceman and is the second-highest scoring defenceman from his draft class.
2011- Ryan Murphy (D, Carolina Hurricanes)
Ryan Murphy was an up-and-coming defenseman drafted after a 79-point season with the Kitchener Rangers. Despite being on the smaller side, he was solid in his own zone and a force offensively. He was considered a power-play specialist who was projected to be a constant contributor in the NHL.
Murphy never found consistency in the NHL and has played most of his career in the AHL, where he was named the league’s top defenceman in 2020-21. This is a hard pick to swallow for Hurricanes fans as players like J.T. Miller, Oscar Klefbom, and Jamie Oleksiak were drafted within the next seven selections.
2012- Mikhail Grigorenko (C, Buffalo Sabres)
After coming over from Russia, Mikhail Grigorenko lit up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He scored 40 goals, added 45 assists, and was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year. All signs pointed to him being the next great Russian sniper, which is why he was drafted so high.
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. Grigorenko was never able to establish himself in the NHL, and after a few seasons, he moved back to Russia, where he has had a successful career in the KHL. This was another missed chance, this time for the Sabres, as players like Tomas Hertl, Tom Wilson, Teuvo Teräväinen, and Andrei Vasilevsky were drafted between 16th and 20th that year.
2013- Max Domi (C, Phoenix Coyotoes)
Former NHLer Tie Domi’s son showed offensive flair, putting up 87 points in his draft year. A product of the London Knights, Max Domi had been to two straight Memorial Cups before being drafted. Although he never won the championship, he showed well, registering six points in nine games over the two years.
Although Domi has bounced around the league, he has shown he can be a number one center. He has 275 points in 429 games and ranks seventh in points among his draft class. The question now is will injuries derail his career, or can he have a bounce-back season and recapture his form?
2014- Brendan Perlini (LW, Phoenix Coyotoes)
Brendan Perlini was the second player ever drafted from England. He had a solid career with the Niagra Ice Dogs, where he put up 71 points in his draft season. A big winger who wasn’t afraid to crash the net, he was projected to be a top-line winger in the NHL.
Although he had a decent rookie season in the NHL, Perlini’s game faded. Last season, he played in Switzerland after he was unable to find a home in the NHL. Another bust; players drafted after him included Alex Tuch, Travis Sanheim, Dylan Larkin, and Jakub Vrána.
2015- Denis Guryanov (RW, Dallas Stars)
Denis Guryanov never lit up a junior league but was still considered to have tremendous upside. What really impressed scouts was his ability to play in the KHL before he was drafted and was expected to transition to the NHL no problem.
The scouts were partially right about Guryanov. He has had a successful NHL career but never became the offensive threat they predicted. Although he has developed into an everyday player, he will always be remembered as a bust compared to those drafted after him, like Matthew Barzal, Thomas Chabot, and Kyle Connor.
2016- Michael McLeod (C, New Jersey Devils)
A powerful center out of the Mississauga Steelheads organization, Michael McLeod was a highly-coveted prospect. He put up 61 points in his draft season and physically dominated his competition. Based on his skill set, he was projected to be a number one center.
There is still time for McLeod to prove he wasn’t a bust, but that time is running out. He has developed into a third-line center, but that is disappointing considering his draft spot. Looking back, New Jersey may have preferred one of the players selected after him like Jakob Chychrun, Charlie McAvoy, and Jake Bean.
2017- Martin Necas (C, Carolina Hurricanes)
Marin Necas had a solid junior career in his native Czech Republic. However, what really helped his draft stock was his play at international tournaments. The Hurricanes selected him, hoping he would continue his development and become a top-six player for the organization.
Carolina’s patience paid off as Necas has become one of their top forwards in the past few seasons. He contributes on special teams and has found some chemistry with Jordan Martinook and Vincent Trocheck. The future is bright for Necas, and this was a great pick.
2018- Noah Dobson (D, New York Islanders)
The pride of Summerside PEI, Noah Dobson, was a force in junior. He won back-to-back Memorial Cups and put up 69 points in his draft year. A can’t-miss prospect, the Islanders were ecstatic when he fell to them at 12th overall.
Although it has taken some time, Dobson is showing signs that he will become a star on the blue line. He played 19 games during the Islanders’ playoff run in 2020, with seven assists. Although early, he looks like a great selection and should have a bright NHL future.
2019- Matthew Boldy (LW, Minnestoa Wild)
Matthew Boldy lit it up for the US National Development Program before he was selected by the Wild. He is a dynamic offensive player with great hands and vision. It was a little surprising he fell to 12th overall, but Minnesota should be ecstatic to have him in their system.
Boldy’s career at Boston College and in the AHL shows he is ready to make the jump to the NHL. He had 18 points in 14 games for the Iowa Wild in a season that included a World Junior gold medal and being named a Hobey Baker Finalist. The future is bright for Boldy as he should make be in the NHL next season.
2020- Anton Lundell (C, Florida Panthers)
It is extremely early, but Anton Lundell could become the best player from the 2020 draft class. He dominated throughout his junior career in Finland and has always been a leader on and off the ice. His game is well-rounded, and he should make the jump to the NHL next season.
Not only did Lundell dominate the Liiga in 2020-21, but he was one of the best players for Finland during their run to the silver medal at the World Championships. Panthers fans should be very excited to watch Lundell as he should have a solid rookie season next year.
Players Who Could Be Drafted 12th Overall In 2021
All-Time Players Taken at 12th Overall
1963- Neil Clairmont (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1964- Guy Allen (Montreal Canadiens)
1965- No Selection
1966- Jim Whittiker (Detroit Red Wings)
1967- Gary Wood (California Golden Seals)
1968- Danny Schock (Boston Bruins)
1969- Pierre Jarry (New York Rangers)
1970- Serge Lajeunesse (Detroit Red Wings)
1971- Dan Spring (Chicago Blackhawks)
1972- Jerry Byers (Minnesota North Stars)
1973- Morris Titanic (Buffalo Sabres)
1974- Mario Tremblay (Montreal Canadiens)
1975- Wayne Dillon (New York Islanders)
1976- Peter John Lee (Montreal Canadiens)
1977- Trevor Johansen (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1978- Brent Peterson (Detroit Red Wings)
1979- Paul Reinhart (Calgary Flames)
1980- Denis Cyr (Calgary Flames)
1981- Toni Tanti (Chicago Blackhawks)
1982- Jim Kyte (Winnipeg Jets)
1983- Dave Gagner (New York Rangers)
1984- Gary Roberts (Calgary Flames)
1985- José Charbonneau (Montreal Canadiens)
1986- Warren Babe (Minnesota North Stars)
1987- Keith Osborne (St. Louis Blues)
1988- Corey Foster (New Jersey Devils)
1989- Rob Pearson (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1990- Turner Stevenson (Montreal Canadiens)
1991- Tyler Wright (Edmonton Oilers)
1992- Sergei Krivokrasov (Chicago Blackhawks)
1993- Kenny Jönsson (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1994- Wade Belak (Quebec Nordiques)
1995- Teemu Riihijärvi (San Jose Sharks)
1996- Josh Holden (Vancouver Canucks)
1997- Marián Hossa (Ottawa Senators)
1998- Alex Tanguay (Colorado Avalanche)
1999- Denis Shvidki (Florida Panthers)
2000- Alexei Smirnov (Mighty Ducks of Anaheim)
2001- Dan Hamhuis (Nashville Predators)
2002- Steve Eminger (Washington Capitals)
2003- Hugh Jessiman (New York Rangers)
2004- A.J. Thelen (Minnesota Wild)
2005- Marc Staal (New York Rangers)
2006- Bryan Little (Atlanta Thrashers)
2007- Ryan McDonagh (Montreal Canadiens)
2008- Tyler Myers (Buffalo Sabers)
2009- Calvin De Haan (New York Islanders)
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.