Jun 182012

I’m one of those few guys who actually gets as excited for the draft and July 1 as Opening Night. It’s an interesting draft year – asides from three top-end forwards, it’s the year of the defensemen, especially reliable puck-movers and some really great skaters. I figure teams will be looking to fill holes in this year’s draft rather than taking the best player available. Looking at different draft lists, there’s even no consensus on where Ryan Murray may end up. Some have him as high as second overall, while others have at least a couple of defensemen ahead of him.

Here’s my annual mock draft. Take a gander. (Here’s the 2011 mock and the draft grades).



Player Notes


Nail Yakupov, RW (Sarnia, OHL)5’10” 189 Shoots: L

42. 31-38-69. 30 PIM +15

If the Oilers don’t want to take Yakupov, they have to trade this pick. Unlike some, I think this year’s draft is pretty weak. There’s a glut of defensemen but not a whole lot of high-end players. Yakupov’s the clear No. 1. Take him, ask questions later.


Alex Galchenyuk, C (Sarnia, OHL)6’0” 189 Shoots: L

68. 31-52-83. 52 PIM -8 (’10-11)

Left ACL surgery in September

Setting the record with two straight Sarnia picks, I’m legitimately convinced Columbus won’t take Grigorenko because of the Russian factor. Nikita Filatov and Nikolai Zherdev were  absolute flops. Go for the home run and grab Galchenyuk, who has recovered nicely from an ACL injury, and forms a 1-2 punch with Ryan Johansen. Hardest pick in this draft, though. Nothing comes easy in Columbus.


Mikhail Grigorenko, C (Quebec, QMJHL)6’3” 200 Shoots: L

59. 40-45-85. 12 PIM +35

An easy pick for the Habs – a big-bodied centre who can score and put a little less pressure on Plekanec. The Habs need more forwards and at this point in the draft Grigorenko is the best forward available.


Ryan Murray, D (Everett, WHL)6’0” 201 Shoots: L

46. 9-22-31. 31 PIM even

Youngest ever Silvertips captain

If the Oilers take Yakupov, the Jackets could take Murray, but I’m not sure since they have Johnson, Moore, Tyutin and Wisniewski already. The Isles have a great crop of forwards and Streit is 34 years old, no longer young. Murray’s a great pick for the Isles here, providing a steady presence ahead of Hamonic and de Haan.


Filip Forsberg, LW (Leksand, Allsvenskan)6’2” 181 Shoots: R

43. 8-9-17. 33 PIM +3

No relation to Peter

Scouts are all over the place with Forsberg and I don’t think the Leafs will take a defenseman, especially if they land Justin Schultz. Ideally, the Leafs would take a centre like Faksa, but Faksa’s not lottery pick material. Take the best forward available, provided the Leafs don’t move up a spot or two.


Mathew Dumba, D (Red Deer, WHL)6’0” 183 Shoots: R

69. 20-37-57. 67 PIM -6

Canada U18 captain

Anaheim Ducks season fights since 08-09: 82, 78, 67, 44. All year the Ducks played with little edge, unable to get going. Dumba’s not big (6’, 183) but he plays with that physical edge Fowler and Visnovsky don’t. Dumba’s a swift skater but also a big open ice hitter, and his confidence might just give the porous Anaheim blueline a lift and bring some swagger back. Closest comparable: Phaneuf without the size. Great pick by Anaheim.


Teuvo Teravainen, LW (Jokerit, FNL)5’11” 165 Shoots: L

40. 11-7-18. 6 PIM -5

If there’s a Finn in the draft, it’s usually a good bet the Wild will nab him and odds on he’s going to be pretty good. The Wild need offensive depth beyond Heatley, who posted his lowest goal total ever. You need a little help when Kyle Brodziak is your second leading scorer.


Radek Faksa, C (Kitchener, OHL)6’3” 202 Shoots: L

62. 29-38-67. 47 PIM +19

There’s talk that an earlier rumour about Jordan Staal being traded by the Pens for a package involving this pick is picking up some steam. If not, the Canes are another team that needs offensive depth, and Faksa makes the most sense. He’s another big-bodied centre that can lock down the No. 2 spot in the future behind Eric Staal and is also a Ranger like Jeff Skinner.


Morgan Rielly, D (Moose Jaw, WHL)6’0” 190 Shoots: L

18. 3-15-18. 2 PIM +6

Winnipeg kicks off the rush of defensemen, since there are no other forwards taking at this point. That means the Jets will pick someone to compliment Byfuglien, Enstrom and Bogosian. Among those, Rielly would be the best and purest puck-rusher on their blueline.


Cody Ceci, D (Ottawa, OHL)6’2” 207 Shoots: R

64. 17-43-60. 16 PIM +21

Tampa Bay needs defensemen, having had trouble moving the puck up to their dangerous forwards all year. Ceci was fourth in playoff scoring among defensemen, topped only by Olli Maata, Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Murphy. He can be the potential puck-rusher neither Brian Lee nor Matt Gilroy could be.


Griffin Reinhart, D (Edmonton, WHL)6’4” 207 Shoots: L

58. 12-24-36. 38 PIM +23

Son of Paul

Dale Hunter’s not back, but he showed that these Caps are feisty and able to play some D. Reinhart is 6’4”, 202 and plays in the WHL, the best league for developing defenseman. With him back there the Caps could move Alzner and Carlson into even more offensive roles.


Jacob Trouba, D (US NTDP)6’2” 193 Shoots: R

22. 4-14-18. 35 PIM +8

Committed to Michigan

Not having Myers for a full season hurt Buffalo. With veterans Regehr and Leopold set to become UFAs, the Sabres have an opportunity to build it around Myers. They can add some size to battle the East’s superstar forwards and Trouba can definitely play a physical game. Questions still abound whether he’ll attend Michigan (verbally committed) or go to Kitchener and join Murphy and Faksa.


Olli Maatta, D (London, OHL)6’2” 202 Shoots: L

58. 5-27-32. 25 PIM +25

Like the Wild, the Stars are good with Finns. Don’t let the playoff stats (19 GP, 23 Pts) fool you – Maatta’s not that type of defenseman. But that’s fine, because the Stars think Goligoski’s going to play that role. With Lehtonen finally healthy, when the Stars blueline is solidified with Oleksiak and Maatta, at which point Benn might be captain already, we’re looking at a pretty solid Stars team.


Derrick Pouliot, D (Portland, WHL)5’11” 186 Shoots: L

72. 11-48-59. 79 PIM +15

Get rid of Bouwmeester. When anyone asks me about Calgary, I always argue that they can’t go anywhere with that guy playing on their roster. Too much cap space, too little return. It’s common knowledge Giordano is the Flames best defenseman, so they should built around him. Pouliot plays in the WHL and puts up pretty consistent points. Once that offense translates to the NHL he can take some pressure off Giordano, and maybe even give them the PP QB they’ve missed in Phaneuf.


Hampus Lindholm, D (Rogle, SEL)6’2” 196 Shoots: L

20. 1-3-4. 12 PIM -1

The last time the Sens picked in this slot was in 2008 when they took fellow Swede Erik Karlsson. Why not go 2 for 2? I didn’t like the Sens giving up on Rundblad for Turris, but Lindholm is even better. Like Karlsson he’s fast and a fantastic skater, but he doesn’t have the same offensive upside. The Sens need to find some help for Karlsson. Teams are going to really target Karlsson next year.


Oscar Dansk, G (Brynas J20, J20)6’2” 186 Catcher: L

2.82 GAA .910 SV%

Played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s

Nabbing Reinhart at 11 allows the Caps to take a goalie. Holtby was brilliant, but that was a fairly small sample size. Vokoun left and Neuvirth totally regressed. There’s some debate about who’s the best goalie in the draft, but looking at Lundqvist, Eddie Lack, Robin Lehner, Jhonas Enroth, Anders Lindback and Jacob Markstrom, you can’t go wrong with a Swede. After this, the Caps have another nine (!) picks.


Brady Skjei, D (US NTDP)6’3” 200 Shoots: L

24. 3-9-12. 12 PIM +5

Committed to Minnesota

Burns had an interesting season in San Jose. His point total dropped, but I felt he was a better all-round player and managed to stay healthy, which for him is a pretty big bonus. Getting Stuart back helps, but that pipeline hasn’t produced anything beyond Demers and Braun, and Vlasic looks less and less impressive every season. Skjei (SHAY) is going to a good program at the University Minnesota, and he plays a strong two-way game. The Sharks take a lot of college kids.


Zemgus Girgensons, C (Dubuque, USHL)6’2” 198 Shoots: L

49. 24-31-55. 69 PIM +17

Captain of Dubuque, committed to Vermont

There was internal debate about how to use Patrick Kane. He’s crafty enough to play the centre of the ice, and Buffalo does the same more successfully with Tyler Ennis. You’d think the Blackhawks would take a goalie here, but they’ve got Salak and two others signed for Rockford, Hutton is an RFA and Crawford deserves another shot. The Hawks rely too heavily on Toews. (EDIT: Hawks have released Salak and signed Hutton.)


Ludvik Bystrom, D (MODO, SEL)6’1” 208 Shoots: L

34. 7-22-29. 101 PIM +2 (MODO J20)

The Lightning could walk away from the first round with their two biggest needs: goaltending and defensemen. But now that they’ve got Lindback, they’re probably less inclined to take a goalie. Bystrom’s a heady two-way player, as steady as Swedes come, and could form a pairing with Hedman. A reach for Bystrom here, but again, the Lightning need defensemen more.


Matt Finn, D (Guelph, OHL)6’0” 195 Shoots: L

61. 10-37-47. 58 PIM -13

Of all the defensemen that have gone so far (7 straight before Dansk), Skjei, Bystrom and Finn are the most underwhelming to me. We’re no longer look at potential top pairing guys, but legitimate bottom four, maybe a good No. 3 defenseman. The Flyers have a lot of quality young forwards, so going with a depth defenseman here can’t really hurt.


Sebastian Collberg, RW (Frolunda, SEL)5’11” 176 Shoots: R

21. 9-8-17. 18 PIM +5 (Frolunda J20)

An easy pick for Buffalo, who won’t need a goalie and drafted a defenseman earlier. Collberg’s the forward with the most offensive upside left. Add him to Buffalo’s collection of good wingers.


Malcolm Subban, G (Belleville, OHL)6’1” 188 Catcher: L

39. 25-14-0. 2.50 GAA .923 SV%

Brother of PK

The pressure’s on for Fleury. If adding Vokoun wasn’t sending a clear enough message, drafting a goalie certainly cements it. The Pens can get a jump on their replacement for Staal and nab a centre, but the 2013 and 2014 drafts have better forwards.


Colton Sissons, C (Kelowna, WHL)6’1” 189 Shoots: R

58. 26-15-41. 62 PIM -13

I wouldn’t want to count on Weiss, Versteeg and Fleischmann to re-capture their magic next year, and Sissons, a strong two-way player who is counted on all situations for the Rockets, could compliment Huberdeau quite nicely, giving Panthers a deep core of centremen they’ve always wanted. Sissons’ stock is one of the fastest risers this year.


Tom Wilson, RW (Plymouth, OHL)6’4” 203 Shoots: R

49. 9-18-27. 141 PIM +17

Quite frankly, the fact that Lucic has become a good offensive player still boggles me. This is a kid who had to work his butt off to be a 30-goal scorer in junior hockey, and now he’s got the potential to do that every year at the NHL level. Wilson kind of reminds me of Lucic, except I think Wilson’s offensive game is way worse. I think we’re looking at a good third line winger at best, but Boston does like the type of game guys like Lucic and Wilson play.


Slater Koekkoek, D (Peterborough, OHL)6’2” 184 Shoots: L

26. 5-13-18. 17 PIM -7

With two goalies taken in last year’s draft, Schwartz, Rattie and Tarasenko stepping in, the Blues should look to help out Pietrangelo. Koekkoek is steady and plays both ways, two things the Blues and Hitchcock love.


Pontus Aberg, LW (Djurgardens, Allsvenskan)5’11” 194 Shoots: R

47. 8-7-15. 6 PIM -3

I think the choice here for the Canucks is between Hertl and Aberg, and both bring pretty different things to the table. Hertl’s the playmaking centre, a poorer skater than Aberg, but also better defensively. It’ll come down to whether or not the Canucks think a lack of a top six scoring winger is a more pressing problem than the lack of depth down the middle.


Tomas Hertl, C (Slavia, Czech)6’2” 198 Shoots: L

38. 12-13-25. 22 PIM +9

Hanzal, Vrbata, Klesla… the Coyotes do pretty well with Czech players. Hertl might not turn into a top NHL centre, but he can create plays while paying attention to the defensive zone. That’s something the Coyotes will look for as long as Tippett is the coach.


Brendan Gaunce, C (Belleville, OHL)6’2” 215 Shoots: L

68. 28-40-68. 68 PIM +5

The Rangers need a centre behind Richards, which would allow them to move Dubinsky permanently to the wing. Scouts rave about Gaunce’s intelligence, which also tells me that he doesn’t particularly do anything special on the ice. You’re drafting a need here, even though Gaunce looks more like a third line two-way centre at best rather than a second line playmaker.


Stefan Matteau, LW (US NTDP)6’2” 210 Shoots: L

18. 6-4-10. 93 PIM +4

Will suit up for Blainville-Broisbriand Armada in QMJHL

I wonder if Devils fans will revolt if this actually happens. The Devils just picked the son of a guy who ended their playoff hopes in 1994. Matteau’s a good depth player, maybe a third line forward with intangibles and ability to score 15-20 a few times in his career. He’s got the pedigree, having come from the famed Notre Dame Hounds program as well.


Daniil Zharkov, LW (Belleville, OHL)6’3” 197 Shoots: L

50. 23-13-36. 25 PIM -4

Why not go for the home run? Zharkov was third on Belleville scoring in goals and even though the Kings won the Cup, they could use a couple more goal scorers. If Zharkov pans out, think Bobby Ryan-type stuff.


Honourable mentions:

Anton Slepyshev, LW (Novokuznetsk, KHL) 6’2″, 187 (39.4-3-7, 2 PIM, -8)

All the Russian stereotypes: fantastic hands but wears Alex Radulov’s number 47. He’s a goal scorer, the Russian U18 captain and if not a late first rounder, definitely a second rounder. Bonus points for a great name. I’m going to keep an eye on him.

Ville Pokka, D (Karpat, FNL) 6’0″ 196 (35.0-3-3, 12 PIM, -3)

There’s nothing spectacular about Pokka’s game, but what’s eye-popping is that he’s playing a regular role as a 17-year-old in Finland’s top league. I’m feeling a Kimmo Timonen-type with this one.

Andrei Vasilevski, G (Ufa 2, MHL) 6’3″ 204 (2.23 GAA, .931 SV%)

The one some people are arguing is better than Dansk. I don’t think we’ll see three goalies go in the first round, but Vasilevski is the biggest wild card.

Martin Frk, RW (Halifax, QMJHL) 6’0″ 204 (34. 16-13-29, 41 PIM, -9)

Had Frk stayed healthy, I’m sure he’d be in first round discussions much more. I’m positive Frk could’ve challenged for the 40-goal mark. And for the record, I’m not buying the Nathan McKinnon hype.

Mark Jankowski, C (Stanstead, Quebec HS) 6’2″ 170

Like Sissons, Jankowski’s come out of nowhere and his stock’s skyrocketing. He obviously has some filling out to do, and he reminds me a bit of Charlie Coyle, a high-upside player that needs to take a couple years to develop. 93 points in 57 high school games, 30 points in 13 games in the Mid-West Prep League. Committed to a middling Providence College team without a standout. No question will end up in the QMJHL somehow like Louis Leblanc and Coyle.

Tanner Pearson, LW (Barrie, OHL) 6’0″ 198 (60. 37-54-91, 37 PIM, +21)

Those gaudy offensive numbers might not transfer to the NHL level, but will make The Show regardless of that. Tenacious, unintimidated by physical play, good enough hands to pot some goals.

Henrik Samuelsson, RW (Edmonton, WHL) 6’2″ 211 (28. 7-16-23, 42 PIM, +18)

Younger brother of Philip, a Penguins second rounder, and the son of Ulf, one of the most notorious hitters in the game. Almost a point per game after going from the US NTDP program to MODO and back.

(EDIT 6/18: This mock draft has been featured in DC Pro Sports Report’s Mock Draft Database).

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