2012 NHL Mock Draft: 1st Round

The draft is coming up soon so here’s another mock to look at, with a particular emphasis on what the Stars could be looking at by the time pick number 13 rolls around.


1) Edmonton Oilers

Nail Yakupov – RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 5’11”/~190 lbs

Edmonton desperately needs defense but Yakupov is far and away the best player in this draft. As much as Edmonton would like to take Ryan Murray, it would just be too large of a loss in value. It would be a shock if this doesn’t happen. The Oilers young explosive offense gets even more dangerous (and fun to watch) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins should be doing backflips (but carefully).


If they want to shake things up, they can trade down two or three spots for defensive help and then pick either Murray if he’s still there or the best offensive player still available.


2) Columbus Blue Jackets

Filip Forsberg – Winger, Leksands (Sweden)

Age: 17

Ht/Wt: 6’1”/~190 lbs

I feel like this pick hinges on how ready Columbus is to move Rick Nash. The game’s hottest trade commodity for the past three seasons is still up for grabs if any team is willing to pony up. If Columbus really truly believes they can keep Nash on the team and happy, Ryan Murray is the pick. That doesn’t look like the case though as it looks increasingly likely that he’s moved this summer so offense is the choice.


They have a few players to choose from and I have Forsberg going here. Alex Galchenyuk and Mikhail Grigorenko are slightly better prospects, but they have more question marks on them. Forsberg is relatively safe, the best European skater in this year’s draft and his skills are nearly as good.


3) Montreal Canadiens

Alex Galchenyuk – Center, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’1”/~185 lbs

There are some big question marks on Galchenyuk as he’s returning from a torn ACL this past season and played only two games. A healthy season might have seen him battling his teammate Yakupov for that top pick though and he could be the best center in this draft (it’s either him or Grigorenko). He should be ready by the time the season starts and he’s young so that explosive skating should still be there. The Habs need offense and a center badly.


4) New York Islanders

Ryan Murray – Defenseman, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’0”/~190 lbs

The best defenseman in the draft should be nice grab here for the Islanders. The goaltender situation is a rotating wheel of disaster and the defense does them no favors. They have a nice offensive core set in NYI so picking Murray here starts to build their blue liners. He should be their day one top pair starter.


5) Toronto Maple Leafs

Mikhail Grigorenko – Center, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~200 lbs

Grigorenko would be a steal for the Leafs here. There are questions all over the place about the young Russian, but his skill is evident. If he had a good playoff run, he would’ve been talked about as a possible number one pick but his effort has been severely questioned. Grigorenko becomes the Leafs best center and should make an immediate impact.


It would be hilarious though if they made this pick and Grigorenko decided to go play in Russia.


6) Anaheim Ducks

Mathew Dumba – Defenseman, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Age: 17

Ht/Wt: 6’0”/~170 lbs

Pretty simple here. The Ducks need defense and it’s just a question of which guy to pick. Dumba is a dynamic player with a big shot from the point and makes up for their loss of Justin Schultz.


7) Minnesota Wild

Morgan Rielly – Defenseman, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’0”/~170 lbs

One of the best offensive defenseman prospects in the draft helps a team that has a major lack of production from the blue liners. The Wild are a heavy defensive team so a little burst of offense helps. He could also become the quarterback of their powerplay. Jacob Trouba is also a strong possibility here and they might take a long look at talented winger Teuvo Teravainen.


8) Carolina Hurricanes

Teuvo Teravainen – Winger, Jokerit (Finland)

Age: 17

Ht/Wt: 5’11”/~160 lbs

If the young Finnish winger drops here, this pick looks more and more likely. Teravainen has the makings of a high scoring winger and it would be nice to see him paired with Eric Staal.


9) Winnipeg Jets

Jacob Trouba – Defenseman, (USA U-18, University of Michigan)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~195 lbs

The young American has played his entire hockey career for the national junior team and has made a big impression there. He’s now one of the best defensive prospects in this draft. Winnipeg gets some good production from their blue liners but really need that strong anchor on the defense. Trouba or Griffin Reinhart would be a good pick here.


10) Tampa Bay Lightning

Griffin Reinhart – Defenseman, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’4”/~200 lbs

Reinhart is one of the biggest bodies in the draft and has all of the skills to go with that size. Strong on defense and solid enough on offense and that’ll only get better. Tampa needs a lot of help on defense and someone like Reinhart is too perfect to pass up.


11) Washington Capitals (from Colorado)

Zemgus Girgensons – Center, University of Vermont

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~ 200 lbs

One of the best two-way forwards goes to the Washington Capitals. Everyone saw during the playoffs how good of a defensive team the Capitals could be and a guy like Girgensons fits in perfectly with their system. They have the dynamic players already in Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and one of those solid players that you can count on night in and night out would work well. Having their lines centered by Backstrom, Brooks Laich and Girgensons would be an excellent group. Radek Faksa is also a strong possibility here but a center looks likely no matter who it is.


12) Buffalo Sabres

Radek Faksa – Center, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’3”/~205 lbs

An underperforming Derek Roy, a massive disappointment in Ville Leino and a talented but untested prospect in Cody Hodgson. That’s what Buffalo has at center on their team. Roy is a prime trade candidate and Faksa would be an excellent replacement for him. He would be their biggest center and has a lot of skill to go with that size.  They have some good players on defense so I don’t think they go there.


13) Dallas Stars

With all those players off the board, the Stars pick comes up at this point. I feel like they hope either Faksa or Girgensons is on the board as they really need some center depth in the organization but with those two gone (at least from what I think) Dallas needs to open up their choices a bit. Here are some possible choices at this point.


Cody Ceci – Defenseman, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~205 lbs

There are a couple of defenseman that are strong possibilities here. The first is Cody Ceci, the better offensive prospect of the two. He’s very polished on the offensive end of the ice and could easily quarterback the Stars power play. He works hard on defense and is a smart player with a lot of room to grow. There are no real big weaknesses in his game and pairing him with a strong defenseman can be the makings of a great dynamic defense. I certainly wouldn’t complain if he goes here.


Olli Maatta – Defenseman, London Knights (OHL)

Age: 17

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~200 lbs

Maatta is the other defenseman that could go to the Stars. He’s purely defensive defenseman that plays a smart game and uses his size well. He could be a staple on the penalty kill and pairing him with Jamie Oleksiak would be a shutdown pairing and a huge boost in front of Kari Lehtonen or Jack Campbell. He can be a calming influence on the blue line. Don’t expect too much though on the offensive side of the ice, though he has shown signs that of improvement there. I consider him the less likely to go of the two though as the Stars have a good system full of the defensive type of blue liners (Oleksiak, Nemeth and Troy Vance)


Brendan Gaunce – Center, Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~210 lbs

Gaunce is one of those do everything type of centers and a solid two-way forward. He’s shown great offensive skills and he works really hard on defense. He’ll use his body well when fighting for pucks and can play physical when needed. Dallas really needs centers though and he’d immediately become the Stars best center prospect and could be fast tracked to the NHL, though he’ll need a bit of seasoning.  I would love to see Dallas take Gaunce if he’s available though.


Colton Sissons – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’1”/~195 lbs

Sissons is an excellent defensive forward, one of the best if not the best in the draft.  13 might be a little bit high for him though as he’s pretty limited offensively. He would be a good player to work on the penalty kill and to help anchor a defense from the forward position. He could probably learn a bunch from someone like Vernon Fiddler though. I doubt Dallas would take Sissons though, he’s just not dynamic enough on offense and the Stars need playmaking ability from their centers.


A couple other names around this point but I don’t think the Stars would go for them: Derrick Pouliot, Hampus Lindholm and Dalton Thrower (all defensemen).


Management for the Stars have recently said that a center is the number one priority on the list for the offseason so I would find it hard for them not to take a center with their first pick in the draft. They have two second round picks as well but they can find some value with defense in the second round. If Girgensons or Faksa fall to 13, I think Dallas would jump on them. Gaunce looks to be a solid prospect that comes undervalued into this draft and I think Dallas takes a long look at him.


With all that said though, Cody Ceci would just be too tough to pass up if he falls to 13. He’s got everything that the Stars need in a defensemen and everything that, so far, Alex Goligoski has not delivered. If the draft falls in this way, I think the Stars would take Ceci and bolster their strong defensive prospect core. He would be the best offensive defenseman prospect in the organization and could get the NHL quickly. I have the Stars taking Ceci at 13.

14) Calgary Flames

Brendan Gaunce – Center, Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~210 lbs

The Flames are a rapidly aging team, especially at their most important offensive positions. Their three best offensive players last season from last season: Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen (free agent) and Alex Tanguay are all going to be over 33-years-old next season (plus Curtis Glencross, Mike Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak are all going to be 30+). They need playmakers coming through the organization at the forward position and Gaunce would be a perfect fit. He literally does everything on the ice and would immediately become an easy choice for their future captain.


15) Ottawa Senators

Olli Matta – Defenseman, London Knights (OHL)

Age: 17

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~200 lbs

The Sens have a wonderful playmaking defenseman in Erik Karlsson, possibly the best in the league, but they don’t really have that shutdown guy from the blue line. They also have three aging guys and a couple more that are free agents so there could be a lot of change on the blue line for Ottawa. Their only real defender is Jared Cowen so Matta would be a fine fit on a team that desperately needs some defensive help. Matta also had a surprising amount of offense during the Knights playoff run so there are hints that he could eventually become a solid all-around defenseman.


16) Washington Capitals

Sebastian Collberg – Winger, Frolunda HC (Sweden)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 5’11”/~175 lbs

Alexander Semin is more than likely gone from the Caps this offseason and the winger depth throughout the Capitals organization is pretty shallow. Collberg is the next best winger on the board after Teuvo Teravainen and makes sense here.

Pontus Aberg is also a possibility here if Collberg doesn’t fit the bill for the Capitals. Whatever the case, I think the Caps go with forwards with both of their first round picks this season.


17) San Jose Sharks

Hampus Lindholm – Defenseman, Rogle (Sweden)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~190 lbs

The Sharks have a very poor prospect pool right now so they’re just looking for talent at any position. They might as well just take the best available player and in this case, that’s Hampus Lindholm. He’s a big dude with some excellent offensive skills and would be a welcome addition to the team. He immediately steps in as the team’s best prospect.


18) Chicago Blackhawks

Malcolm Subban – Goalie, Belleville Bulls

Age: 18 (19 later this year)

Ht/Wt: 6’1”/~190 lbs

The play of Corey Crawford during the playoffs had to send shivers throughout the Blackhawks fanbase. He was absolutely horrid but he’s the best the Chicago has and that’s a big problem. With the lack of depth in the system at goaltender, Chicago needs a franchise goalie that’s shown more than what Crawford has. He’s a fine regular season goalie, but something happened during the playoffs and he was letting in soft goal after soft goal. If it wasn’t for the horrid goaltending in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh series, you could easily say Crawford was the worst goalie in the playoffs.

I have the Hawks taking Subban, the most athletic and the one that has the best potential of the three goalies available at this point. He’ll need a few years to really learn the nuances of the position, but the rewards could be enormous.

If they don’t go goalie, defenseman looks to be a likely possibility.


19) Tampa Bay Lightning (from Detroit)

Matt Finn – Defenseman, Guelph Storm (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’0”/~200 lbs

There would have been a very large possibility of the Lightning taking a goalie at this spot a few days ago. That was before they traded for Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators for a pretty hefty price of two second-round picks this season and a third-round pick next year. He’s going to be their goalie of the future and it’s clear that Steve Yzerman is going to do whatever it takes to improve the defense this offseason.

After taking a hulking defenseman in Reinhart with their first pick, the Lightning go defense again with Matt Finn to really bolster their thin blue line core. He’s a smart two-way defenseman that would work well in their system.


20) Philadelphia Flyers

Slater Koekkoek – Defenseman, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~185 lbs

There’s a severe problem at the blue line and behind for the Flyers that was painfully evident during the playoffs. There’s really nothing that they can do to change the goalie as Ilya Bryzgalov is signed on till the next decade for a pricey $5.7 million per year so the next best thing they can do is to get better at the blue line.

Chris Pronger has been decimated by a concussion and the overall effects of his age. The rest of their defense is a crapshoot of players that are wildly underwhelming and their prospect pool is full of middling defensemen. They need guys with a potential to be a top pair defenseman and they can get that in Koekkoek. He’s big, plays physical and eats up minutes. He missed a lot of time this past year with a shoulder injury but that shouldn’t hurt his draft stock much, if at all.

Whatever the case, this pick has to be a defenseman for the Flyers.


21) Buffalo Sabres (from Nashville)

Tom Wilson – Winger, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’4”/~195 lbs

The Sabres stole this pick when they traded Paul Gaustad to the Predators and find themselves in an excellent spot to put it to good use. They lost Zack Kassian in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks last season for Cody Hodgson and Wilson is basically the same player. Big, rough and tough with a mean streak and your prototype power forward. He’ll settle in nicely as a mid-line guy for the Sabres within a few years.


22) Pittsburgh Penguins

Brady Skjei – Defenseman, USA U-18

Age: 19

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~205 lbs

If Skjei lasts this far, it’s pretty difficult to imagine the Penguins not taking him. He fits in perfectly with the type of defensemen that they like: Smooth skating puck movers with some solid offensive capabilities. It’s a match between player and team that just makes sense.

The Pens weird situation with Jordan Staal might make this pick interesting (maybe Colton Sissons or Henrik Samuelsson?) so a center/forward is definitely in play if Staal is moved during the draft.

23) Florida Panthers

Pontus Aberg – Winger, Djurgårdens IF (Sweden)

Age: 18 (19 later this year)

Ht/Wt: 5’11”/~190 lbs

Florida has a great prospect pool in place already, so they’re in a fine position to just take the best player available. In this case, that’s the young Swedish winger. He looks like a solid playmaker and scorer and he’s a fine consolation prize this late in the draft. He would easily be a top-six winger on this team in a few years.


24) Boston Bruins

Derrick Pouliot – Defenseman, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’0”/~185 lbs

The really bizarre Tim Thomas situation could throw a goalie into play here. Tuukka Rask is as talented as any goalie out there but he hasn’t had to deal with full time duties yet (and he’s a RFA, though there’s only 1% chance he leaves Boston) and Anton Khudobin is a grab bag of uncertainty. There’s a lack of good goaltending in their system so they could go with Andrei Vasilevski or Oscar Dansk here, but I think they put all their eggs in the Rask-for-goalie-of-the-next-decade basket and go with a defenseman here.

Pouliot has some high upside to his offensive skills, which is a bonus for a Bruins team that struggled to score goals at the end of the season and in the playoffs (though the Caps defense might be big reason why). He could turn into a power play quarterback that they desperately need in a couple of years.


25) St. Louis Blues

Tomas Hertl – Center, Slavia Praha (Czech League)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/200 lbs

The Blues could really use another playmaker on the team and another playmaker is what they could have in Tomas Hertl. The signing of highly touted prospect Vladimir Tarasenko gives some goal scoring punch to the team and a guy like Hertl could be a big asset as TJ Oshie and David Backes are solid players, but not really great offensively.

26) Vancouver Canucks

Scott Laughton – Center, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’0”/~180 lbs

Another disappointing run in the playoffs brings a lot of questions to the Canucks this offseason on just what to do. There’s no questioning the talent on this team so maybe it’s all just effort and mentality. Laughton is a bulldog on the ice. He works hard on every shift and looks to be a pretty solid two-way player. A hard-working do-it-all type of guy would fit in well with a talent laden roster. It’s just a matter of finding those last pieces to the puzzle for the Canucks.


27) Phoenix Coyotes

Henrik Samuelsson – Center/Winger, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’2”/~195 lbs

The Coyotes need some scoring punch. Samuelsson can bring that and much more. He’s a physical three-zone player that plays a game that I’m sure Dave Tippet loves. He works hard on defense and will battle for pucks. He’s not going to blow anyone away offensively, but he’s certainly got the skills to score goals. With a little more progression, he could really improve and surprise people at that part of the game. He would just fit well here.


28) New York Rangers

Stefan Matteau – Winger, USA Under-18

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’1/~210 lbs

Really, I had to do it. The son of a New York Ranger hero and he’s slotted to go around this point of the draft? He has to go to the Rangers right? Fortunately, he’s pretty talented as well and a pretty safe pick. He plays tough, physical hockey (just like you would expect out of the Rangers) and is solid on both ends of the ice. It would be a disappointment if he’s still available at this point and he doesn’t go here.

29) New Jersey Devils

Tanner Pearson – Winger, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Age: 19 (20 later this year)

Ht/Wt: 6’0/~200 lbs

Really, I’m flummoxed by what the Devils are doing keeping this pick over what has to be higher draft picks the next two seasons. One would assume that they would go with a goalie with this pick, but there’s a lot of risk in hoping that all three fall down to this point (unless the Devils are pretty much okay with whoever falls to them). There’s actually already some pretty good prospects already in the system in New Jersey and I’m not sure if whoever is left at the end of the first round is that much of an upgrade and worth losing a better pick in the next two years.

I imagine the Devils are eyeing winger at the end of the late round though and someone like Tanner Pearson fits the bill. He’s been in this situation twice before and has been undrafted the past two seasons. He really put up some numbers this season though and has vaulted somewhere at the 1st/2nd round level. He’s smart, play well on defense and obviously has some big-time goal scoring capabilities. A young winger would be good for the Devils so Pearson is a possibility here.


30) Los Angeles Kings

Colton Sissons – Center, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Age: 18

Ht/Wt: 6’1”/~195 lbs

The Stanley Cup winners can afford to do whatever they want with this pick. They suddenly found themselves with a lot of forward depth during their playoff run and look solid at the blue line and are set for the next decade in goal. Sissons would just give them another gritty two-way player down the line with great leadership qualities. Learning from Mike Richards and Dustin Brown (minus the diving) would be perfect for him and he’s got future captain potential. He’ll work tirelessly to make the roster within a couple of years.