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This is definitely one of the crazier drafts up ahead. There's no real consensus Top 20 in the draft this year. 1-8 are kind of similar, but the orders are all different. After 8, it's wide open. Based on each team's criteria, any player after 9 or 10 could be taken anywhere.
This year, I believe the real draft is going to involve a lot of deals. I think teams that are picking late in the 1st might be swapping that pick for more ammo next year, when the draft class is supposed to be deeper.
However, for the purposes of my mock draft, I'm just going to pick based on the order. Trying to figure out who will move up, down, near, far, east, west, and so on just takes too much speculative b.s.
Here's my 2012 NHL Mock Draft. Feel free to enjoy how bad I am at drafting...
My mock draft has each team picking where they are and not making any trades.
1. Edmonton Oilers - Nail Yakupov
While I believe the Oilers will trade down, in my mock draft I have Yakupov going #1 no matter what.
2. Columbus Bluejackets - Alex Galchenyuk
The trade of Jeff Carter has once again opened a massive hole at center for the Bluejackets. This draft is heavy with defensemen, so getting a high quality forward like Galchenyuk is going to be rare. I don't think Columbus passes on this guy, especially after his impressive performance at the Draft Combine.
3. Montreal Canadiens - Filip Forsberg
Montreal needs forwards who can score to replace the aging Gionta, Cole, and Gomez. The Habs have Tinordi and Beaulieu as bluechip defensmen, but have a pretty noticeable lack of talent in their forward pipeline.
4. New York Islanders - Ryan Murray
The Islanders will definitely take the top-rated defensman in this draft without question. There are some great talents up front for the Islanders, so the Murray pick makes total sense. They get the best player available while addressing a major need of a young, puck-moving defenseman.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs - Mathew Dumba
I don't really believe that the Leafs will be selecting here. I think that this pick will be part of a package for Nash, but for the purposes of this mock draft, the Leafs will select Dumba and get a top-tier bluechip defender.
6. Anaheim Ducks - Jacob Trouba
While Cam Fowler has his offensive upside, there really isn't a shutdown defender anywhere in sight for Anaheim. That will change with Trouba. He will complement Fowler perfectly on their top pairing.
7. Minnesota Wild - Morgan Rielly
Rielly is possibly the best offensive defensman in this draft, so this is a no-brainer. The Wild need help producing points from the blueline, and Rielly can do that. He may not be the best overall defensman in this draft, but the offensive skills cannot be questioned.
8. Carolina Hurricanes - Mikhail Grigorenko
Carolina will stop the fall of Grigorenko. No one can deny his offensive abilities. He may be the only other gamebreaker besides Yakupov in this draft. The Canes have a pretty good youthful core on the blueline, so while selecting someone like Reinhart would be tempting, I think the incredible talent and upside a team gets with Grigorenko will have Carolina calling his name.
9. Winnipeg Jets - Griffin Reinhart
A big body that plays well at both ends of the ice, Reinhart gives the Jets a future top-pairing defensman. Reinhart has watched his stock rise all season, as his game has grown through the entire season. He might be the best two-way defensman to come out of this draft.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning - Cody Ceci
After the deal to acquire Anders Lindback, the Lighting now look to build outward from their net. Ceci has a good combination of size, offensive upside, and defensive ability. Although he may not have the big upside of some of the defensmen selected earlier in the draft, Ceci will be a safe pick for the Lightning.
11. Washington Capitals (From Colorado) - Teuvo Teravainen
The run on blueliners will allow the Capitals to scoop up the scoring wing. I think the Capitals have seen the last of Semin, so Teuvo will give the Capitals a scoring wing to replace the other Alex, one that actually works hard every shift and has a real desire to win.
12. Buffalo Sabres - Olli Maatta
Since the Sabers can't select a way out of Leino's contract, Buffalo will select Maatta. The Finnish blueliner had his draft stock rise with a strong finish and a dominant OHL playoff performance. He's got a high hockey IQ (something you can't teach), size, and can play at both ends of the ice.
13. Dallas Stars - Brandon Gaunce
Dallas doesn't really have a lot of talent up the middle, and as Wild fans, we've seen what happens when a team is bad at center. While I don't see Gaunce becoming a dominant 1st line center, he will be a very good 2nd line center for Dallas.
14. Calgary Flames - Matt Finn
The Flames need everything badly, so they will simply draft the best player available. Finn will be a good addition to Calgary. The forward prospects at this point are incredibly raw, while Finn has already shown that he's a solid two-way defensman. Finn displayed some big steps forward this year, and without any real glaring weaknesses, Finn seems like a safe prospect that can play top-4 defensive minutes.
15. Ottawa Senators - Zemgus Girgensons
An aging trio of Alfredson - Spezza - Michalek will force the Senators to get younger at forward. The Senators could go with Collberg to address the major hole at right wing, but the overall higher ability of Grigensons will win out in this case.
16. Washington Capitals - Slater Koekkoek
With the selection of Teuvo, the Capitals can attempt to add a good two-way defender for their blueline. Koekkoek gives the Capitals size, talent, skating ability, and big upside. He's raw and had his season cut short by a shoulder injury, but the upside at 16 is good value.
17. San Jose Sharks - Hampus Lindholm
Lindholm has offensive upside, but the rest of his game is pretty raw. He's not that good in his own zone, and he's prone to getting turned around defensively; however, he's one of the better skating defensmen in this draft, which is an underrated skill for a defender. Teams can teach a system to a player, but teaching a kid how to skate at age 18 isn't going to happen.
18. Chicago Blackhawks - Malcolm Subban
Subban is widely considered the top North American goalie in this draft. Depending on who you talk to, it's kind of a toss-up between Subban and Vasilevski as to who is better. Since Vasilevski hasn't given any indication that he is 100% committed to coming from Russia to the United States, the Blackhawks will address their biggest need by selecting Subban.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (from Detroit) - Radek Faksa
At 19, Faksa has great value. He's projected in the middle of the 1st round, and Faksa can play second fiddle to Stamkos for years to come. He doesn't have the talent to be a #1 center, but in Tampa, he won't need to be that guy.
20. Philadelphia Flyers - Derrick Pouliot
The Flyers are pretty stacked everywhere, but with Pronger's return uncertain and Carle about to test the UFA waters, Pouliot makes a lot of sense. He's good value at 20, and he can be a future cornerstone blueliner. The forwards are young enough in Philly to be around for a while longer, so Pouloit is the pick at 20.
21. Buffalo Sabers (from Nashville) - Mark Jankowski
With a second pick in the 1st round, the Sabers can gamble a little bit. No player saw a bigger jump in his draft stock than Jankowski. He's got a big frame, incredible vision, good skating, and the ability to finish. The upside is just too big for Buffalo to pass on.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins - Tomas Hertl
I have Hertl as the best player available at this point, and I don't think Jordan Staal will be in Pittsburgh much longer. Hertl is projected to be a #3 center, but there isn't a lot of talent left at this point that would be that much better than Hertl. Assuming the Penguins keep both Crosby and Malkin, Hertl will be a good addition to that squad.
23. Florida Panthers - Ludvig Bystrom
Bystrom is an absolute steal at 23. His play this year earned him time with the MODO professional team. He can put up points, make a great outlet pass, and quarterback a powerplay unit. Bystrom will be a great puck-moving defensman for the younger Cats coming up, and Florida GM Dale Tallon loves puck-moving defensman.
24. Boston Bruins - Tom Wilson
A bruising, power winger...seems like a match made in heaven.
25. St. Louis Blues - Brady Skeji
The Lakeville native is another pure skater in this draft. He's not the best defensman by any means, but his skating and puck handling have him as a 1st round pick. St. Louis has an aging blueline, so Skeji make a lot of sense for the Blues.
26. Vancouver Canucks - Pontus Aberg
The speedster has a bit of everything in his game. He can play gritty, he's got some playmaking ability, and he can finish. He has the potential to be a top-6 forward, but it's more likely that Aberg is a scoring 3rd liner.
27. Phoenix Coyotes - Colton Sissons
Phoenix could use a little bit of everything, but Sissons has the finishing ability and frame to be a top-6 power forward. Where he ends up on a roster is based on his development, but the upside is there.
28. New York Rangers - Stefan Matteau
He's a big, strong, gritty wing that compliments the Rangers style of play. Plus, if Dubinsky is part of Nash deal, Matteau could step in quickly and replace Dubinsky in the lineup.
29. New Jersey Devils - Nicolas Kerdiles
Kerdiles led the U.S. National Team this year in goals, assists, and (obviously) points. He's got smooth hands, great vision, and finishing ability. If the Devils are preparing for life after Parise, then Kerdiles is a nice pick. He's a good #2 wing to play behind Kovalchuk.
30. Los Angeles Kings - Michael Matheson
By calling up Voynov and Martinez, the Kings now have a lack of bluechip prospects on the blueline. Matheson is a good two-way defender who can chip in offensively and help a powerplay. He didn't get much help this year from his teammates in Dubuque, but his trip to Boston College this year should help his development.