Here it is, the final mock for the 2012 draft. I’m not a moron (well…maybe I am), I am taking Bob McKenzie’s rankings as the gospel in doing these, however even his rankings don’t go 30/30 so we will see how well I do. This is an odd draft. The team that has the top pick may not want it despite there being a run away favorite for top spot, a lot of this year’s high end prospects were injured for a significant amount of time, and so what was expected to be an extremely deep draft back in September has turned into a suspect draft. I believe what we will see in 10 years is teams missing a lot picking 15-30, but a lot of steals in rounds 2 and 3.
Keep in mind I do this mock basically as a VERY educated guess. I haven’t seen many of these players play. Basically I read up on these kids as much as I can, read as many rankings as I can, look at the drafting history these teams have and what they have in the organization 25 and under and go from there.
Oh and like EVERY SINGLE GM before I make my picks I would like to congratulate the Los Angeles Kings on winning the Stanley Cup, and I would also like to thank the city of Pittsburgh for being such amazing hosts this weekend.
1. Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov 5’11 189 RW Sarnia OHL
As we enter Friday (6AM is when this went up), I strongly believe Yakupov will go 1st. BUT…50/50 the Oilers pick in this spot. I was told by a source (yes, even I have a few sources) that the Oilers are working hard to trade down (despite what Kevin Lowe says) and the “source” believes that Griffin Reinhart is who they prefer. But let’s say Oiler fans, IF they were to pick Ryan Murray….you are still adding a potential elite player with the perfect blend of talent and intangibles to anchor a blueline. Ryan Murray would fit PERFECTLY with the Oilers. But I have said it before and I will say it again that people need to get it out of there heads that the Oilers can’t take Yakupov and still massively upgrade their weaknesses (blueline, 2nd line C). They have the trade chips to get it done. And again, this kid is going to be a superstar. I expect 30 goals from him next season, I expect 40-50 in his prime and he will win more than one Rocket Richard trophy. Pavel Bure 2.0.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets – Ryan Murray 6’1 201 D Everett WHL
And I’m back to Murray at 2. Late last night I had this still as Forsberg until Aaron Portzline came out and said he believes they will pick Murray. Nobody is more plugged into the Jackets than Portzline, so with me not be THAT stupid I will say it’s Murray too and from a hockey standpoint this is a good move. But from a business standpoint….I’ve harped on it since April 10th, why he isn’t doing everything he can to ensure that he moves to number 1 and pick Yakupov is beyond me. I know that’s not the right hockey move, but that team needs to do the right business move right now and while Murray will be a heck of a player, he won’t put asses in the seats…Yakupov will. And what also came out last night from Portzline to make this worse is that he says the Jackets will pass on Yakupov even if he falls to the 2nd pick!!! Unreal, Scott Howson you learned well from Kevin Lowe didn’t you. Next decision I’m sure will be you hiring Kevin Pendergast as your head scout. But back to Murray, he is the safest pick in the draft and will step into any teams top 4 next season. He has a great all around game, he has all the intangibles you want in a player, the question is will he be able to take it to an elite level.
3. Montreal Canadiens – Alex Galchenyuk 6’1 198 C Sarnia OHL
Gally stays one more time at 3 for me, and if this is the pick for the Habs it’s the right one. Best centre in the draft in my opinion. Montreal has been desperate for the longest time to get a legit number 1 centre with size and Galchenyuk could be that guy. I know the injury to his knee could scare some scouts off, but from everything I hear the kid’s makeup is unreal. I guess he’s a workout warrior off the ice. Now so is Joe down at Gold’s Gym, but Galchenyuk has showed his talent off on the ice too. He has a chance to be one of the league’s elite centre’s within the next 5 seasons.
4. NY Islanders – Filip Forsberg 6’2 181 LW Leksands SWE
I said it in the last mock on Saturday, if Forsberg is here I believe the Islanders will take him. One more time, they don’t believe you pick D-men high in the draft. Passed on Fowler for Neiderritter, passed on Hamilton for Strome. This is different as Forsberg would be the BPA at this point, but just like the Oilers they HAVE to start building that blueline. For me the Islanders MUST take a D-man with this pick and start building their blueline, but I’m not them. Forsberg is a bull on skates, he dominates the wall, is extremely hard to knock off the puck, has a great release, good vision. The problem for me and a few others is that he didn’t meet expectations offensively this year. But most don’t see that as a problem moving forward and they know more than I do. Little side note….I will not be shocked if Teravainen got picked in this spot. It just feels like something the Islanders would do.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs – Matthew Dumba 6’0 183 D Red Deer WHL
Burke is the most likely to move from his spot either up or down. They need to secure Galchenyuk in my mind but to do so they would have to trade up to at least 2. And apparently the Jackets don’t want to trade (why improve your team hey Scott?). They don’t have a centre in the organization that has elite number 1 ability. But the only guy they might pick is Faksa (I said in my last 2 mocks that Grigorenko just didn’t feel right). Kirk Luedeke from Redline told me today if the first 4 go this way that he thinks Burke trades back to take Faksa. But I have a no trade rule in my mock drafts, so Burke despite having built a pretty impressive blueline selects another in Dumba. If you have followed these mocks you know that Dumba is “my guy”. And he would be Burke’s “guy” too, I would guess more so than Reinhart because of how physical he is. He’s tough, talented, he is the total package. If Dumba is 6’2 he is the top pick in this draft without a doubt. I’m not scared off by the height, some are. I’m not scared off by the running around he does in his own zone at 18 years old, but some are. While the Leafs don’t need D at all, this pick should allow Burke to really load up a package to perhaps land that big 2 way centre they need.
6. Anaheim Ducks – Griffin Reinhart 6’4 207 D Edmonton WHL
I believe if Bobby Ryan gets dealt then a D-man or 2 will come back in return, but they’re so thin moving forward on D that the pick should likely still be a D-man. This kid showed scouts an edge that they weren’t sure he had in the playoffs and Memorial Cup. If that edge remains in Reinhart’s game he should be the best D-man to come out of this draft. He has the size, hockey IQ, and offensive ability already. He doesn’t have to be Chris Pronger (although that wouldn’t hurt), but Zdeno Chara in that Chara knows when he needs to be mean. The Ducks need to add to their blueline especially with the loss of Justin Schultz to UFA. Matt Dumba and Morgan Rielly are just as likely in this spot however.
7. Minnesota Wild – Teuvo Teravainen 5’11 161 RW Jokerit FIN
This is something I had considered last mock but didn’t have the balls to do it. Minnesota could easily go D here, they are more in need of a high end D-man then a winger. But this kid is going to be a high level winger. I said it earlier, but don’t be shocked if he goes as high as 4 to the Islanders and he could go anywhere between 4 and 7 in my opinion. If he is at 7 though he would be tough for the Wild to pass up. They have a nice stable of Fin’s all of a sudden with Koivu leading the way and they don’t really have that “electric” winger. Sure they have Heatley who can score, but Heater is as 1 dimensional as they come. Teravainen plays the game at a high pace. His stock has vaulted up higher than anyone this year. At this point if he gets to 8 I would be shocked.
8. Carolina Hurricanes – Radek Faksa 6’3 202 C Kitchener OHL
Not changing a thing here, so this is what I said 2…edit…3 weeks ago….I am going to stick with this pick. Jim Rutherford hasn’t been affraid to reach in the past. Jeff Skinner was considered a bit of a reach and that worked out fine. But Rutherford wants a 2nd line centre, he likes size down the middle, and he likes the Kitchener kids as this would be the 3rd Ranger in a row he has taken with his top pick (Skinner in 2010, Murphy in 2011). I got to think that’s something that has rarely if ever happened. Faksa has risen this season, and riser’s in the last few years have risen further than some scouts want to believe. Mark Scheifele was that guy last year expected to go in the 10-15 range and got picked 7th, I mentioned Skinner in 2010 but also Ryan Johanson was only expected to go 7 or 8 in 2010 and he went 4th. Faksa plays a very well rounded game, likes to get his nose dirty and plays 200 feet in addition to putting up good numbers. This is also a candidate to be dealt. I almost hit the nail on the head with what the return would be on Jordan Staal (apparently the Canes offered 8, Sutter, McBain, and to take back Paul Martin and the Pens shot it down). The word is that they have big interest in Sam Gagner. Jeff Marek of Sportsnet said in an interview with Bob Stauffer Monday that he believes Carolina would move the 8th pick to get Gagner. Sounds more likely this pick will be moved than the Canes using it.
9. Winnipeg Jets – Morgan Rielly 6’0 190 D Moose Jaw WHL
Wow!!! I STILL can’t believe I have this pick staying the same. I was really doubting Rielly got to this spot, but someone has to fall a bit and without trades happening (which as I just said I believe they will) Rielly could be the guy. Jets fans will be celebrating like it’s May 31, 2011 all over again if he is! Rielly is a Dan Boyle, Duncan Keith type. If his defensive game develops then he is the latter, if it doesn’t then he is the former. But he had an amazing combine, the knee is apparently just fine, and he could go as high as 4th in this draft. This team needs an upgrade in the organization on the blueline much more than anywhere else. If Rielly isn’t here, a chance that Dumba is. And if neither are there I would still look D, either Trouba or Maatta.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning – Jacob Trouba 6’2 196 D USA U18 USHL
Tough one here between Trouba and Maatta. But Bob has Trouba ahead and that’s what I had been rolling with since the start of the month so I will stick with it. But Maatta put to rest a lot of concerns about his inconsistency in his playoff run…but I digress, the “ning” take Trouba. Trouba was great at the WJC, one of the lone bright spots for the Americans. His U 18’s were just so-so. He has all the talent, but some are worried about his hockey IQ. Add to that being a USHL kid he hasn’t played against much tough competition. He is going to Michigan next season and while it’s a great program, most NHL teams prefer these kids to head to the CHL. Interesting to see if this will hurt his draft stock.
11. Washington Capitals (via Colorado) – Olli Maatta 6’2 202 D London OHL
George McPhee has built up a tremendous system in Washington and now they will have 2 pretty good picks to make it even better. They don’t have a lot of big needs, but you are never “too” set on D, and the last I had heard the Hunters have a relationship with the Caps. If Maatta is here he is the pick I have no doubt at this point. He won’t be a great offensive D-man, but he should be a very solid shutdown D-man. Wouldn’t be shocked to see McPhee package 2 or 3 of his picks (he has 4 in the top 54) to move up. With a loaded system he can afford to do so. Maybe they roll the dice with Grigorenko here seeing as how they need to upgrade at centre and they have the ultimate Russian to attract other Russian players. But McPhee despite having that guy still got burned by Kuznetsov signing in the KHL for another 2 years so I’m thinking he is gun shy. If Faksa falls to this spot he is the pick.
12. Buffalo Sabres – Cody Ceci 6’3 207 D Ottawa OHL
They got 2 picks in the 1st round so much like Washington they will be a threat to move up. They don’t have many needs but I keep saying they could stand to upgrade their defense (just about any team can). Ceci is a kid that puts up numbers (a bullet from the point), and he has the size to be a shutdown guy in the pro’s. Having said that I wouldn’t be surprised that if Ceci becomes more of just a shutdown guy. He doesn’t skate poorly, but he may not skate well enough to be a guy that can jump in the play. With Myers, Pysyk, and McNabb already in the organization, Maatta could complete what would be a very nice top 4.
13. Dallas Stars – Mikhail Grigorenko 6’3 200 C QuebecQMJHL
This could be a gift for the Stars. Everyone knows by now how Grigorenko has fallen down the rankings drastically. There are rumors of him actually being 20 years old and not 18, of course the ankle injury set him back this season, and then he played with mono during the QMJHL playoffs. Dallas doesn’t need a centre here, I have mocked a D-man in this spot all season long. But if Grigorenko gets here I believe they will roll the dice and take him. While they don’t have a great need at centre, they could definitely use one in the system. Especially one who is 6’3, 200 pounds and have the skill set to be an elite number 1 centre. Those guys don’t grow on trees.
14. Calgary Flames – Zemgus Girgensons 6’1 201 C Dubuque USHL
I have said it before and I’m saying it again, I just will not move off this pick happening. I had Girgensons to the Flames in the January mock draft, that was 10th. I had him here in the February mock draft, that was 13th, had him here in the April mock draft, had him here in the June 4th mock, had him here in the June 16th mock, and have him here now. MacKenzie had him 13th. I’m putting him here for a lot of reasons. Again with the USHL some teams are scared off by it, but I doubt Feaster is scared off by it. An American GM is likely going to have more faith in the USHL than a Canadian GM. Not always, but more often then not. Add to that the Flames haven’t been strong down the middle since the early 90’s. If he is there he would fit the bill for the Flames pretty well. If Grigorenko falls to them (which now seems realistic) they HAVE to take him. However I will say even though they are desperate for help down the middle, last year they took who was in their minds the BPA and appear to have hit a home run in doing so. So perhaps Bartschi’s teammate Derrick Pouliot? Maybe Lindholm? Or maybe they think along the same lines but like Brendan Gaunce better?
15. Ottawa Senators – Hampus Lindholm 6’3 196 D Rogle SWE
This is the end of the line. When Bob did his rankings Monday other than having Grigorenko going 5th I was pretty close to right on the money with where my picks went (even though his are rankings, mine is a mock). Then the bottom 15 of Bob’s list looked NOTHING like my own (uh oh!!) But I had Lindholm going 15th for a while, and this is where Bob had him. He could go higher than this, but I don’t think he will go lower than this. As for the Sens they love their Swedes and as good as they look on the blueline moving forward they aren’t overly deep there having dealt David Rundblad in the Kyle Turris deal. Lindholm is a big riser this season and is really a clone of Oscar Klefbom who rose throughout last season and plays nearly identical game. Smart and physical in his own zone and offensive upside is there. I’m sure he is on the Sens radar at 15.
16. Washington Capitals – Brendan Gaunce 6’2 215 C Belleville OHL
So at the end of the day the Caps get their big centre they crave. But as the season went on a lot of scouts started to question Gaunce’s offensive upside. He is a safe pick, worst case scenario he is a 3rd line centre which is a spot that is more vital to fill than some on lookers will credit. I think if this was the pick, most would say they picked another Brooks Laich. That might be true, but you can never have enough of those guys. Big, plays 200 feet, can chip in offensively. Coaches adore those players. Once again however I will state watch for the Caps to package these picks to get a more high end player with such a stocked system.
17. San Jose Sharks – Derrick Pouliot 5’11 186 D Portland WHL
This is a pretty nice fit in my mind. The Sharks need D men and Pouliot falls into their lap. I really like Pouliot and believe he was a bit of a victim of playing on such a good Winterhawks team there for maybe not being aloud to be the horse he has the ability to be. We seen it at the top prospects game in February, he might have been the top player in that game. After this many years I don’t know how Doug Wilson hasn’t done more to upgrade their blueline. I guess he thought guys like Vlasic would become better than they have. The Craig Rivet for Josh Gorges trade didn’t help either. If not Pouliot here than perhaps Slater Koekkoek or maybe a guy drop to them but I expect a D-man here.
18. Chicago Blackhawks – Andrei Vasilevski 6’3 204 G Ufa Tolpar Rus Jr
Once again another pick that I refuse to change. I just think this makes too much sense, we all saw Corey Crawford subpar playoff performance and they don’t have much if anything coming in net. In 2010, the Hawks made the finals with Neimi who was virtually unknown as far as Stanley Cup final goaltenders go. The Flyers made it with Leighton and Boucher who were AHL and career backups respectively. All of a sudden teams started believing that goaltending just wasn’t as important of a position as it had been in the past. Well, maybe that was a fluke, or maybe GM’s went overboard with how unimportant they thought it had become. Regardless, goaltending is huge once again. As for Vasilevski, outside of the 3rd period vs Canada he was incredible at the WJC. The Russian factor might come into play here, but even if it did I believe the Hawks in this spot would just move on to the next tendy on the list which would be Subban or Dansk. Either way I see a goalie going to the Hawks at this time.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (via Detroit) – Tom Wilson 6’4 203 RW Plymouth OHL
I admit when I’m right…who doesn’t hate that guy?! But I admit when I’m an idiot and I admit I made a mistake about Wilson when doing the last few lists. Now, before the OHL regular season ended his stock did drop a lot, but then he had that terrific playoff run and I got him back here going to Tampa. The reason I had him going to Tampa back in February was that he could replace some of what they lost in Steve Downie and Carter Ashton at the trade deadline. He can punish you, and he can put the puck in the net. Probably will never be more than a complimentary 2nd line guy. But a 2nd line guy that will be feared on the forecheck, on the boards and in front of the night. Tampa could definitely use a guy like this.
20. Philadelphia Flyers – Slater Koekkoek 6’2 184 D Peterborough OHL
I had this pick in my last few mock drafts and I’m not changing it. Koekkoek was well on his way to at least a top 15 pick in this draft before his shoulder injury. People who follow the OHL closely love him. Those that don’t seem to think he is a bit overrated. I like what I read about him, haven’t watched him play, but I know Philly is pretty desperate for D-men in their system at this point and Koekkoek would be the pick should he still be around. Has a good all around game with all the intagibles you want. Needs to smooth out his game, but given time (which he will be in Philly’s system) he should. Could be a steal for the Flyers.
21. Buffalo Sabres (via Nashville) – Tomas Hertl 6’2 198 C Slavia Praha Czech
Pretty great job by Darcy Reiger to land this pick for Paul Gaustad. Yeah sure he threw in a 4th but thats still pretty minimal. I really thought hard about putting Tom Wilson here as the Sabres in losing Kassian gain back that type of player and apparently they LOVE Wilson. But I have Wilson off the board already and so they go with Hertl. He has nice size, really good 200 foot player and has some real good upside offensively (good vision). The Sabres have lacked size in their top 6, and haven’t had a top 2 centre with size for a while either so this pick to me makes a lot of sense.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins – Henrik Samuelsson 6’2 195 C Edmonton WHL
They had his dad, they have his brother in the system, so why not?! But that is just a small reason why I could see this being their selection. Samuelsson’s flaw is that he lacks quick boots (foot speed), which is a pretty big concern. But I watch this kid play, and he has such a ridiculously high hockey IQ, and like his dad he is an evil S.O.B. out there who won’t back down from it….it’s such a unique skill set that I think some team grabs him late in the 20-30 range, and the Pens could use this kind of kid (they really could have used him against Philly). He played mostly on the wing for the Oil Kings this season so despite listed as a centre playing the wing wouldn’t be an issue. Samuelsson reminds me of David Backes, who lacked quick boots has developed into one of the top centre’s in the league.
23. Florida Panthers – Matt Finn 6’0 195 D Guelph OHL
A great season for the Panthers, and they look pretty good moving forward. But I don’t think there is a real strength in the organization right now. And while they have something nice on the blueline with Gudbranson and Kulikov, they don’t have much coming. So Finn is a good pick here. He is a guy that doesn’t do anything spectacular, just does everything well. Will get his nose dirty but isn’t overly physical. Can play on the power play but likely won’t ever be a teams QB. Probably just a really solid number 4 D-man. A safe pick.
24. Boston Bruins – Brady Skeji 6’3 203 D USA U18 USHL
Taking a look around at all the different rankings not just Bob’s and it looks as though Skeji is the BPA and Kirk Luedeke said on Twitter last week that the B’s would take the BPA (he is very plugged into the B’s organization). The Bruins don’t have a great need on defense with Hamilton on the way and quite a few of their key D-men still young enough, but I wouldn’t say they’re deep either. Skeji is a kid that skates very well for his size and is a great defender 1 on 1. He won’t be a kid who is overly physical, but like most USHL D-men he is sound positionally and uses his stick well. He has very good hockey sense. There is offensive upside with him (mainly due to his skating) but most see him as a guy that will be a very smooth skating shutdown D-man.
25. St.Louis Blues – Mark Jankowski 6’2 170 C Stanstead Quebec Prep
The Blues rebuild is FINALLY done and they should be a contender for a while. And the big key to their success this season was being HUGE down the middle. Jankowski in time will fit that mold. Another riser, he is a total project but if he is given time to develop (3-4 years) this could prove to be an amazing pick. He is a tough player to judge because he hasn’t played against good competition this season, but the last guy I recall that being said about was Chris Kreider and the last time I saw Kreider play he was in the conference finals and was perhaps playing better than anyone else on his team. Classic boom or bust guy but the Blues are pretty stocked in their system and can afford to take this gamble.
26. Vancouver Canucks – Colton Sissons 6’1 189 RW Kelowna WHL
If Gillis has finally noticed that the culture needed to change in Vancouver then he will likely continue trying to change it with this pick. Sissons is a kid that could help change it. He can score, plays with a lot of heart and grit and while he doesn’t have the upside to be a 1st line guy he is just what the riot police ordered for the Canucks…Actually for the Canucks I would say he is a poor man’s Trevor Linden, and I know Canuck fans don’t mind the idea of that.
27. Phoenix Coyotes – Scott Laughton 6’0 180 C Oshawa OHL
They’re absolutely loaded on their blueline, and in fact could deal one of the studs they have this summer for some offensive help. But they won’t just grab guys that can score and try to fit a square peg into a round hole like David Poile tried to do this season, they will want guys that can play Tippett’s system. Scott Laughton I believe is one of those guys. Here is another kid that rose late in the season and as I stated earlier risers seemingly go even higher where they end up in the rankings. Laughton has a really high hockey IQ and plays a 200 foot game. He will never put up big numbers but this is a perfect fit for Dave Tippett’s team.
28. NY Rangers – Oscar Dansk 6’3 189 G Brynas SWE
Started looking hard at the Rangers cause they are pretty solid everywhere in the organization…except in net. Now of course Lundqvist isn’t near retirement, but they have NOTHING coming in the organization. Dansk would be a beauty fit here not just because it’s another Swede, but he much like Vasilevski and Subban will need 4-5 years of development time. By then, Lundqvist is 34-35. With how much he plays every year I would think by then they will be searching for a guy to come in and play 30-40 games a year. Dansk has good speed and athelticism, is really sound technically and has a big frame. If this happens, no matter which of the goaltenders they like here, I believe it’s a very intelligent pick.
29. New Jersey Devils – Malcom Subban 6’1 188 G Belleville OHL
Well for a few mock drafts I had Subban going to the Devils. But then the Devils went on their amazing run and Subban ends up with the Jackets at this point…is what I thought was going to happen! The Devils announced last week that they will keep this pick, which could honestly be the most ridiculous move their great GM Lou Lamoriello has ever done. You are picking 29th, it is going to be a very difficult draft to judge due to all the injuries this season, you are about to lose Zach Parise and likely other key players this offseason because you will need to be a cap floor team which almost guarantee’s you will not get near the Stanley Cup final next season and oh by the way the 2013 draft at this time looks LOADED. But, I’m not Lou Lamoriello, I’m not head scout David Conti, and so they will make the pick which should be Brodeur’s successor. Subban is extremely athletic, quick and has tremendous potential. But much like his brother his skills need to be honed. I believe he will take a while to develop, but the wait could be well worth it.
30. Los Angeles Kings – Sebastian Collberg 5’11 174 RW Frolunda SWE
I guess I was wrong here too! I didn’t know that the Jackets had the option on this pick and it would make absolutely zero sense to take it this year in a suspect draft and with the Kings having won the Cup. So the rich get richer for this season anyways. Obviously there are not a lot of holes on a Stanley Cup winning team that went 16-4 in the playoffs, but a winger who has a high skill set and speed is something they will need soon. Gagne could be a candidate to retire this offseason because of the concussion problems but even if he doesn’t he will be for sure gone next offseason. I would say at this point Collberg has far and away the most skill of any guy left.
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