Russ Bitely weighs in with his 2012 Mock Draft (first round). Compare this one to the official DobberHockey Mock, three rounds of Mocky goodness (as well as over 120 full player profiles from a fantasy hockey standpoint), in the 2012 Fantasy Prospects Report here.
There is one thing that is certain during the NHL Draft – uncertainty. With all 30 teams descending upon Pittsburgh for Friday night’s first round, the entire hockey world is wondering how the draft will all pan out.
Nobody can predict exactly who will go where and what deals will be made at the NHL Draft table. Experts all around the throughout the league are giving their best shot on how it will all unfold. The draft may not be as exciting as Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, but it does hold much anticipation on what players end up where. These players hold the future of the league and the organizations.
Toronto Maple Leaf’s GM, Brian Burke, always has something up his sleeves and picking fifth my not be high enough in this year’s enlistment. Let us not forget how the Lightning, Sabres, and Capitals each have two selections in round one and you know Steve, Darcy, and George’s phones will be ringing often.
The hockey gurus probably have a better chance in hitting the mega lottery than getting a perfect score on how the first thirty selections go, let alone the entire seven rounds. No doubt there are many intangibles that go on behind the scenes and only each team truly knows their needs and direction.
On this day, scouts earn their money and have been doing so for many, many months. Long days and nights in the rinks throughout North America and Europe is no easy chore. With all the league’s seasons in the books, mid-term and final rankings completed by the Central Scouting Services (CSS), the NHL Combine concluded, and each individual team having their final report card on players it’s now show time.
Nonetheless, here is a shot at the title. Will my mock draft for the first round go to plan? Probably not, but hey you never know.
1.) Nail Yakupov – RW (5-11, 190, Sarnia Sting, OHL): Edmonton Oilers
What is there to say as hockey scouts and gurus unanimously ranked this talent as No. 1 for the draft. It would be very tough and perhaps fatal for the Oilers to pass on this Russian sniper. He is probably the most NHL-ready player out there. Whether Steve Tambellini thinks he needs another forward or not, it is pretty much a must-take situation.
2.) Filip Forsberg – C (6-2, 181, Leksands IF, Sweden): Columbus Blue Jackets
What’s this, another Forsberg star in the NHL? No relation to Peter, though his big-time game does mimic some. He is a big, strong, skilled Swede that will look to fill the shoes of a likely departing Rick Nash.
3.) Mikhail Grigorenko - C (6-3, 200, Quebec Remparts, QMJHL): Montreal Canadiens
The Russian transport has already spent a year in North America playing for the Quebec Remparts and produced very solid rookie numbers in juniors. He possesses the skill and size to help the Habs in the immediate term. Perhaps his junior coach, Patrick Roy, who is a former Canadien himself pleaded his case to the Montreal brass.
4.) Ryan Murray -D (6-0, 205, Everett Silvertips, WHL): New York Islanders
He is big and strong, and skates very well for a blue liner. The Islanders need help everywhere, but beefing up the defensive core is more of a necessity. Murray is a D-man that will most likely be an immediate addition to his NHL club.
5.) Alex Galchenyuk - C (6-1, 197, Sarnia Sting, OHL): Toronto Maple Leafs
He comes from a Belarusian father who played for Dynamo Moscow, yet claims to be all American, as he was born in Wisconsin during his dad’s IHL playing days. He certainly has been blessed with those high-end offensive skills. Brian Burke loves the USA and fire power – something Galchenyuk has both of. Coming off knee surgery, he may just stick around long enough for the Leaf Nation to grab.
6.) Mathew Dumba - D (5-11, 183, Red Deer Rebels, WHL): Anaheim Ducks
He might be the best overall defenseman in the draft as he has some potent offensive skills as well as a love to punish opposing players. Anaheim already has some dynamic scoring forwards. A high-octane blue liner would be a great asset to add.
7.) Morgan Rielly - D (5-11, 190, Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL): Minnesota Wild
He is a smooth skating, puck-moving, playmaking defenseman that would serve the Wild best if they draft him. Minnesota is already loaded on the forward side with talented prospects, so help on the back-end would be a wise choice.
8.) Teuvo Teravainen - LW (5-11, 165, Jokerit Helsinki, Finland): Carolina Hurricanes
Many scouts say that this winger is one of the most exciting and it seems his draft stock has been on the rise as the NHL nears D-Day. He has great skill sets and able to find the net, yet some are reluctant because of his size. Remember the ‘canes like those Fins.
9.) Griffin Reinhardt - D (6-4, 202, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL): Winnipeg Jets
The Jets will continue to solidify their defense with the raw talented Reinhardt. He is big, strong with a long range that will shut down opponents. The old man, Paul Reinhardt, played in the big leagues as an All-Star too.
10.) Radek Faksa - C (6-3, 200, Kitchener Rangers, OHL): Tampa Bay Lightning
He is a big, power forward that plays both ends of the rink well. In his rookie campaign he led all players in scoring in the OHL.
11.) Jacob Trouba - D (6-2, 195, USNTDP, USHL): Washington Capitals
Well it seems fellow American John Carlson is working out in the nation’s capital, so the Caps take the physical, hard-hitting American Trouba. Showed his game off well at WJCs in Canada this past January.
12.) Cody Ceci-D (6-2, 207, Ottawa 67s, OHL): Buffalo Sabres
Darcy Regier goes back to the Brain Campbell draft-style as he selects offensively savvy D-man Ceci out of the 67s program. Ottawa is the same junior team where Soupy developed his strong two-way game.
13.) Hampus Lindholm - D (6-2, 195, Rogle Jr., Sweden): Dallas Stars
He plays a very mature game and quite reliable at his position. He excels at making good decisions with his hockey sense both with and without the puck.
14.) Derrick Pouliot - D (5-11, 190 Portland Winterhawks, WHL): Calgary Flames
The Flames like the gems they took in 2011 out the Portland Winterhawk’s organization in Sven Bartschi and Tyler Wotherspoon. He has the smarts, very deceptive speed for a D-man, quarterbacks the power play, and plays with an edge. Calgary snags WHLer Pouliot out of P’land.
15.) Slater Koekkoek-D (6-2, 183, Peterborough Petes, OHL): Ottawa Senators
Going back one year ago at the draft, the Sens stocked up on three forwards in Mika Zibanejad, Matt Puempel, and Stefan Noesen in Round 1, not to mention Shane Prince in the second. This year Ottawa stacks up the D and goes for another strong OHLer with a heavy-duty shot and puck rushing skills.
16.) Brendan Gaunce - C (6-2, 215, Belleville Bulls, OHL): Washington Capitals
With the 2012 NHL Draft being very heavy with defenseman and European talent, it might just take until the 16th pick to have a Canadien forward selected. Gaunce is not crazy-skilled but can certainly produce on the offensive side as well as giving great versatility, exceptional work ethic, and defensive know-how.
17.) Matthew Finn - D (6-0, 195, Guelph Storm, OHL): San Jose Sharks
He just simply plays a solid game every time out on the ice. Shark’s GM, Doug Wilson, has a history of drafting out of the OHL and he was a strong skating blue liner back in the day for the Hawks. Did I mention Matthew’s last name is a marketing beauty for San Jose to play off of.
18.) Malcolm Subban - G (6-1, 198, Belleville Bulls, OHL): Chicago Blackhawks
Goalies are always a gamble to use a first round selection on although Chicago needs help between the pipes. Subban of course has his older brother causing havoc in the NHL with Montreal. He is a very athletic, agile, and highly competitive ‘tender to help compliment Chicago in net.
19.) Olli Maatta - D (6-2, 210, London Knights, OHL): Tampa Bay Lightning
This Finnish import has been hovering on NHL scouts’ radar all year although with a strong Memorial Cup run with London helped escalate his draft stock. He plays a solid overall game and Stevie Y will look to add more depth on defense with his second pick in the first round.
20.) Brady Skjei - D (6-3, 200, USNTDP, USHL): Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers time in getting prospects on defense is now. What a better draft to capitalize than this year. The potential in Skjei’s game is high. He is a smooth skater and plays a well-rounded game with good size too.
21.) Tomas Hertl - C (6-2, 200, Slavia Praha HC, Czech Republic): Buffalo Sabres
The center man position is definitely a concern with the lack of size right now in Buffalo. He has very good puck possession skills and the frame to help the Sabs down the road. He showed how he is able to play against top competition in Czech elite league with his shiftiness and scoring ability.
22.) Sebastain Collberg - RW (5-11, 175, Vastra Frolunda HC, Sweden): Pittsburgh Penguins
He possesses great agility on skates and ability to put it into high gear in a hurry. A player of great potential and if he keeps blossoming the scoring threat is there for sure.
23.) Tom Wilson - RW (6-4, 203, Plymouth Whalers, OHL): Florida Panthers
Dale Tallon is a very smart general manager and knows how to pick’em. He created the 2010 Stanley Cup Champs in Chicago after all. So Florida goes after a strong, scoring power forward.
24.) Andrei Vasilevski - G (6-3, 205, Ufa Salavat Yulayev, Russia): Boston Bruins
With Tim Thomas moving to Colorado and notifying the hockey world via Facebook he is taking the year off from the game, the Bs really don’t have any other choice but to look at a goalie in the first round as goalie prospects in the system are slim and none. He displayed his talent with a strong WJC with Team Russia in January.
25.) Pontus Aberg - LW (5-11, 185, Djurgardens IF Stockholm, Sweden): St. Louis Blues
Injury has kept this high-end offensive player outside any Top 10 talk. He has a wicked wrister with above-average vision that makes him a very good playmaker. Swedish product Patrik Berglund has yet to hit his full potential in just four short seasons, so don’t be surprised if Aberg ends up singing the Blues.
26.) Zemgus Girgensons - C (6-1, 185, Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL): Vancouver Canucks
The University of Vermont bound two-way forward has also had a good scoring touch in America’s Tier 1 junior league, the USHL. The Latvian native will add another Ryan Kesler like player to the west coast of Vancouver.
27.) Stefan Matteau- C (6-2, 205, USNTDP, USHL): Phoenix Coyotes
“Stepped on my toe!” Another son of a former NHLer. The younger plays a gritty style like the older and will be a physical force along the wall and in front of the net. ‘yotes GM, Don Maloney, pays very close attention to the folks in Ann Arbor, MI and USA Hockey.
28.) Phil di Giuseppe - LW (6-1, 200, Michigan Wolverines, CCHA): New York Rangers
Glen Sather and the Rangers gamble on another University of Michigan and Red Berenson made product. He is a player that loves to skate and posted a solid freshman season at Yost. di Giuseppe looks to be the only college prospect that makes the first round. The Rangers like what they saw in there their newly signed college prospect during the playoffs too, Chris Kreider, so the Big Apple gets another educated hockey player.
29.) Scott Laughton - C (6-0, 170, Oshawa Generals, OHL): New Jersey Devils
The Devils stick with the defensive game plan as Laughton is an intelligent, two-way center man who competes intensely in every zone and can be extremely valuable with his resourcefulness.
30.) Michael Matheson - D (6-2, 175, Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL): Los Angeles Kings
The Kings just won the Cup with a rear guard that also won a NCAA Championship in 2001 with Boston College -- Rob Scuderi. LA will try and repeat the feat with Matheson as the elite skater and player maker will hone his game in Chestnut Hill starting this fall.