2012 NHL Mock Draft

With the Los Angeles Kings hoisting their first Stanley Cup on June 11 and the NHL’s top awards given out soon after, the National Hockey League season has officially drawn to a close.  Kings players and coaches are each getting to spend quality time with Lord Stanley, but elsewhere, teams that had already experienced the sour taste of playoff elimination or who missed out on the playoffs all together have been putting plans in place for the upcoming 2012-13 season.  One of these focal points all teams must prepare for is the 2012 NHL Draft.  Round 1 of the draft will be held tonight at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh at 7 P.M. and can be seen on NBC Sports Network. 

With round one only hours away, let’s take a gander at a mock draft based off what players would fit nicely with franchises who each have specific needs.

  1. Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers need desperate help on their blue line, but with the number one pick, they can’t pass up the biggest talent available, and that is the RW Nail Yakupov.  Unless the Oil trade out of the top spot, expect him to go.  He’s expressed desire to play in the NHL, not the KHL, which is obvious incentive to take him.  The 18-year-old tallied 101 points in 65 games in the OHL this past season.
  2. Columbus Blue Jackets The Jackets need many things before they can contend with anyone, but taking a safe bet with the 2nd overall pick would be their best bet. Defenseman Ryan Murray is that safe pick in the top 4 or 5.  He isn’t an offensive defenseman by any means, but plays a sound and complete game that will enable him to make an immediate impact and eventually develop into one of their top blue-liners.
  3. Montreal CanadiensThe Habs need offense.  They were 19th in the league last year in goals per game at 2.5 and 28th in the league on their power play, clicking at only 14.3 percent.  Mikhail Grigorenko seems to have enormous upside but takes games off in big situations.  Even his actual age has been brought into question.  To be safer, The Habs will take C Alex Galchenyuk.  He’s a solid scorer and playmaker and performs admirably on defense as well. 
  4. New York Islanders – Since the Isles have some depth at defense in their farm system, expect them to go with a forward.  LW Filip Forsberg, also a safer bet than Grigorenko, plays an absolutely determined style of play and has showcased leadership.  Isles fans might not see him for another year as the 17-year-old finishes out in Sweden, but his impact will be felt upon arrival.
  5. Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs could very well trade out of this spot in order to add much needed depth at other positions, but if they stay, I see them taking defenseman Jacob Trouba.
  6. Anaheim Ducks – The Ducks need a lot of help, and continuing the Bruce Boudreau style of offensive play will require better talent up front.  Radek Faksa, a center, will give them a good blend of size, at 6’3, 203 lbs, and skill that should provide a great top-line center in the near future.
  7. Minnesota Wild – The Wild have some depth at the forward positions, so this would be a good chance to add Griffin Reinhart, an extremely physical defenseman that can provide that shutdown ability teams love. He comes with hockey smarts most players don’t naturally possess. 
  8. Carolina Hurricanes – Carolina needs help at center, and while Mikhail Grigorenko may fall further than this because of his numerous issues, I think Carolina nabs him.  Good size, scoring ability, speed, but comes with many questions. If he pans out, Carolina will be a very happy franchise.
  9. Winnipeg Jets – The Jets are close to turning the corner but are a few pieces away.  Defensemen Morgan Rielly could be one of those pieces. Rielly tore his ACL this season, so he wasn’t seen much by scouts, but he had 24 points in 23 games.  His knee now seems fine, and his passing and offensive talent from the blue line should greatly boost Winnipeg’s defensive core.   
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning – He could be a reach in the top 10, but if the other defensemen already listed come off the board, Olli Maatta would be a good fit in Tampa. Everyone knows Tampa can score, with Stamkos averaging 9 million goals per season.  Defensive and goalie help is of the utmost importance.  Doesn’t appear to be a big point producer but his defensive prowess will benefit Tampa in ways it desperately needs.
  11. Washington Capitals – The Caps have big needs at center and defense.  With this and the 16th pick in the first round, they could go either way first.  I like Zemgus Girgensons at this pick for the Caps.  He is a great talent but also extremely gritty, and could develop into a 2nd line center that the Caps obviously were starving for in the playoffs.
  12. Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres need some scoring help in front of Ryan Miller.  They have productive guys like Pominville, Vanek, and Roy, but need another scorer to improve an offense that finished 17th in the league at 2.6 goals per game.  Teuvo Teravainen, a Finnish winger could provide that spark.  Could be the most creative scorer in this draft class.
  13. Dallas Stars – Dallas could use a talented two-way defensemen.  Cody Ceci provides that.  Could soon be on a 1st pair.  He needs to use his big 6’2, 207 frame to be more physical, but once that comes, his offensive talent and defensive smarts will fit nicely in a Stars sweater.
  14. Calgary Flames – The Flames, like the Caps, need some help at the center position.  Brendan Gaunce is a talented and physical center that you can put pieces around for a future core.
  15. Ottawa Senators – The Sens need a solid blue-liner to compliment the incredibly-talented Erik Karlsson. Derrick Pouliot is a play-maker.  He’s a great passer with great offensive smarts as a defenseman.  He’ll have some learning to do playing away from the puck.
  16. Washington Capitals – Having addressed their issues at center, the Caps will go with a defenseman here.  Matthew Finn is not a standout talent as much as he is a smart player.  Great positioning and hard work is his forte.  He’ll be another guy that can PK and eat minutes.
  17. San Jose Sharks – Their formula for winning a Cup clearly has not panned out.  They need to get younger and more talented up front.  Stefan Matteau is a tough forward that can play multiple positions.
  18. Chicago Blackhawks – Can use help in different areas, but more scoring never hurts. Sebastian Collberg, a winger, brings a very talented scoring touch that would compliment a power-play that was in dire need.
  19. Tampa Bay Lightning – Dwayne Roloson is 923 years old.  Goalie Malcolm Subban, the brother of P.K, is a freakish athlete that has drawn comparisons to Carey Price.
  20. Philadelphia Flyers – The Flyers scored about 27 goals per game in their playoff series against Pittsburgh.  They need more defensive help in front of Mr. “Universe” Bryzgalov. Brady Skjei, who will be playing for the Minnesota Gophers next year, could easily mature into a 2nd-pairing defender.
  21. Buffalo Sabres – Winger Thomas Wilson will bring more offensive prowess to the Sabres.  The ability to address that need twice in the first round will definitely help them on that front. Might never be a huge scorer, but is strong on the puck and can cycle with the best of them.
  22. Pittsburgh Penguins – With the recent uncertainty of contract negotiations with Jordan Staal, the Pens could use more help up front.  Thomas Hertl is a talented center from the Czech league.  He’ll have some learning to do but could help in the future.
  23. Florida Panthers – The Cats took huge stride this year in clinching the Southeast division title. Adding the scoring touches of Fleischmann, Versteeg, and more helped.  They could use more help defensively.  Slater Koekkoek has tools to be a really good defender.
  24. Boston Bruins – B’s could add some depth at center. Colton Sissons, if available, would bring two-way talent.
  25. St. Louis Blues – If talented defenseman  Hampus Lindholm is still around, shoring up the defense in front of talented goaltending is an appealing thought.
  26. Vancouver Canucks – Canucks can always use some more help up front.  Tanner Pearson, a big-bodied winger will be a valuable pick.
  27. Phoenix Coyotes – Winger Martin Frk would bring some scoring potential for a team that could use it.
  28. New York Ranger – Winger Nicolas Kerdiles would be a gritty player fitting the tough style of play of the Rangers.  Could be a 2nd rounder but not a bad pick here.
  29. New Jersey Devils – Martin Brodeur is old.  It’s time to find a suitable replacement.  Andrei Vasilevski was one of the best goalies in the World Junior Championships this year.
  30. Los Angeles Kings – Adding defenseman Dalton Thrower would be a nice move.  He is a physical defender who still has plenty of game to develop.  He thrives on big hits. 

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