NHL Mock Draft
By: Lauren Burg and Jeff Lingard
The NHL Draft, one of the few highlights of the offseason, will be held Friday June 22nd and Saturday June 23rd at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To get all you NHL fans ready for the draft my fellow correspondent, Jeff Lingard, and I have compiled a mock draft just for your viewing pleasure. Keep in mind, these picks are not set in stone as we can't tell the future. They are instead just our opinion, based on statistics and/or teams needs. Regardless, sit back and enjoy!
1) Edmonton Oilers: RW Nail Yakupov (Sarnia, OHL)
Yakupov is widely thought of as the Number 1 prospect in all of hockey. Easy to see given the fact he broke Steven Stamkos' rookie records in Sarnia. Only knock is that he was injury-prone this past year, suffering from a concussion. The Edmonton Oilers do have three former first round picks, two of them going first overall and all forwards, already in the NHL. However, we honestly can't see Yakupov slipping to any other teams unless Edmonton decides to trade this pick.
2) Columbus Blue Jackets: RW Filip Forsberg (Leksand, Swe)
Forsberg is, based on the final rankings, the top European skater in this year's draft. Many scouts also compare him to the Anaheim Ducks' Corey Perry in the fact they think he can become a two-way player that scores tons of goals. Also, there are many rumors that Blue Jackets right winger, Rick Nash, will head elsewhere, as he's a free agent beginning July 1st. That seemingly could open the door for Forsberg.
3) Montreal Canadiens: C Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec, QMJHL)
Grigorenko is, by and large, Quebec's best player in this year's draft. A few scouts say he has everything; not a surprise considering he challenged Yakupov for the Number 1 prospect status for much of last season. The only knock on him, as with many other players in this year's draft, is that he was injury-prone last season, spraining his ankle at the World Junior Championships and missing weeks. He also missed the final month of the season with mononucleosis. Despite all that, Montreal needs an offensive center as last season they struggled to score goals.
4) New York Islanders: D Ryan Murray (Everett, WHL)
Murray, though unknown how good he will be, is thought by some to be the top defenseman in a draft filled with top-notch defenseman. He is thought to become a two-way defenseman, something that could benefit the Islanders who, judging by their stats and record, need defense pretty badly.
5) Toronto Maple Leafs: LW/C Alex Galchenyuk (Sarnia, OHL)
The Leafs are hard to figure out. We think they will take Galchenyuk, given the fact that the few games he played for Sarnia he formed a great 1-2 punch with the consensus #1 prospect Yakupov. Also, Leafs blogger Mike Ulmer believes the Leafs should take him at #5, saying that if he'd been healthy he could have easily been the consensus #1 prospect. As it was, Galchenyuk was limited to only two regular season and six playoff games after tearing his ACL/MCL in exhibition play. Regardless, we highly doubt the Leafs will pass him up, especially not when they find out he's been compared to Tampa Bay Lightning, and former Sarnia Sting, star sniper Stamkos who the Leafs were hoping to get their hands on during the 2011 free agency period.
6) Anaheim Ducks: D Jacob Trouba (U.S. NTDP, USHL)
Trouba is thought to be one of the best defenseman in this year's draft. He has great skating ability but can be very inconsistent at times. THN has him projected to be a defensive defenseman, something Anaheim needs more than a two-way defenseman given the reports that Teemu Selanne is expected to return to Anaheim for the 2012-2013 season.
7) Minnesota Wild: LW Teuvo Teravainen (Jokerit, FIN)
The Wild need scoring so we see them picking Teravainen. One scout even said he's very skilled, creative and can score when needed most. The only possible question mark with him is his size but his talent, and ability to score when needed, seem to outweigh that.
8) Carolina Hurricanes: D Matt Dumba (Red Deer, WHL)
Dumba, projected to be an offensive defenseman, would really help the Hurricanes. He's not afraid to play the body and also is lethal on the power play. The Canes could benefit from that, given that they only converted on 16.7 percent of their power play opportunities this past season. Also, a top pairing of Justin Faulk and Dumba could signal a bright future for the Canes.
9) Winnipeg Jets: D Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton, WHL)
Reinhart, son of former NHL player Paul Reinhart and projected to be a two-way defenseman, could really fit in well with the Jets. His offensive instincts are really good and he can easily help the Jets transition from defense to offense easily with a great pass to spring his forwards. Only knock on him is that he's not very physical and is only OK one-on-one in front of his own net.
10) Tampa Bay Lightning: D Cody Ceci (Ottawa, OHL)
Ceci, projected to become an offensive defenseman, could fit in well with the Lightning. He's strong and, more than that, has a great shot from the blue line. He could also fit in well alongside 2009 second overall pick, Victor Hedman, creating a two-headed monster of offensive defenseman. Only knock is that his defensive coverage is only OK. However, the idea of him and Hedman together, creating offense from the blue line at times, is too much to pass up.
11) Washington Capitals (from Colorado): D Derrick Pouliot (Portland, WHL)
Pouliot, projected to become an offensive defenseman, would fit in well with guys like Mike Green and Karl Alzner in Washington. Scouts say that he's better than what his statistics indicate and that he would probably benefit from playing alongside other top players. Green's one of the best defenseman in the game and Alzner would also serve as a great mentor to Pouliot.
12) Buffalo Sabres: D Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw, WHL)
Rielly, projected to become an offensive defenseman, is exactly what Buffalo needs. He skates, passes the puck extremely well and doesn't get rattled very easily when under pressure, something that could help the Sabres get back to the postseason as they weren't that far away last season.
13) Dallas Stars: C Brendan Gaunce (Belleville, OHL)
Gaunce is everything the Stars want in their system, with a big body and the ability to handle/protect the puck and finish plays. Scouts, however, see him as a center many teams would want, something that could prevent Dallas from
14) Calgary Flames: D Olli Maatta (London, OHL)
Maatta is not the best defenseman in this year's draft but he is quite versatile, seeing as he can play as a shut-down type of guy if need be. Calgary, with so much money tied up in players like Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, need someone less expensive that can get the job done, something that Maatta can do.
15) Ottawa Senators: RW Sebastian Collberg (Frolunda, SWE)
Collberg has a great release and should fit in well with Ottawa's young forward core. He also was one of the top scorers, and youngest players, on Sweden's gold medal winning World Junior team. He could easily become a replacement for Daniel Alfredsson once Alfredsson decides to retire.
16) Washington Capitals: C Radek Faksa (Kitchener, OHL)
Faksa is one of the better forwards available in this year's draft. Given the fact the Capitals could possibly lose Alexander Semin, Jeff Halpern and a couple of others to free agency they could benefit from drafting a player with great size and a good reach.
17) San Jose Sharks: LW Nicolas Kerdiles (U.S. NTDP)
Kerdiles is a goal-scorer that already plays a pro-style game, something that should help San Jose Head Coach Todd McClellan out as he tries to win the Sharks a Stanley Cup. He also would fit in well alongside Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Logan Couture to name a few.
18) Chicago Blackhawks: RW Thomas Wilson (Plymouth, OHL)
Wilson doesn't have great numbers but isn't afraid to use his big body to help create scoring chances. Given the fact that Marion Hossa, the Hawks current right winger, is injury prone and getting up there in age Wilson seems like a guy that could help set up Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane with prime scoring opportunities.
19) Tampa Bay Lightning (from Detroit): D Matthew Finn (Guelph, OHL)
The Lightning really need defenseman and Finn seems to be a guy that could fit in well with them. He can score all different ways, whether it be on the power play, at even strength or even shorthanded. He also is good at breaking up passes in the defensive zone, something that could help the Lightning immensely.
20) Philadelphia Flyers: D Slater Koekkoek (Peterborough, OHL)
Koekkoek has great numbers, good size and could easily help out the Flyers. His knock is that he was injured, missing a decent amount of time, last season and could also use a little more time to develop. The Flyers can do that, given the depth within their organization.
21) Buffalo Sabres (from Nashville): LW Pontus Aberg (Djurgarden, SWE)
Aberg came close to being eligible for the 2011 draft, being that he was born eight days after the cut-off date. This season, he wasn't really able to improve his stock much so he's kind of a wild card type of player in that you don't know what you'll get. The good thing is that the Sabres can allow him to develop as they already have Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek and other top-notch guys on offense.
22) Pittsburgh Penguins: D Hampus Lindholm (Rogle, SWE)
Lindholm is an offensive defenseman, something that would only help the Penguins down the road. With young superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading the team now, along with last season's first round pick Joe Morrow on his way up the ranks, the Penguins can afford to let Lindholm develop if needed.
23) Florida Panthers: C Zemgus Girgensons (Dubuque, USHL)
Girgensons would ideally be a bottom two lines type of player that can kill off penalties and also win face-offs. He also could help a team after only a year in juniors if needed. Given the fact that Kris Versteeg is a restricted free agent this season and Sean Bergenheim, Marcel Goc and others are also only signed to short-term deals at this point that could end up helping the Panthers.
24) Boston Bruins: G Oscar Dansk (Brynas, SWE Jr.)
Given the news that Tim Thomas is taking this next season off and Tuukka Rask will be the Bruins starter they will need a backup. They could bring up someone from their AHL affiliate but then they'd need someone to go to one of their minor league teams. Dansk is big (6 foot 3 to be exact) and plays well in big games which could certainly help the Bruins in the future, if not this season.
25) St. Louis Blues: LW Stefan Matteau (U.S. NTDP)
Matteau needs a little time to develop but once he becomes more consistent he should fit into Ken Hitchcock's system in St. Louis quite well.
26) Vancouver Canucks: C Scott Laughton (Oshawa, OHL)
Laughton is projected to become a shutdown forward, even doing a decent job shutting down Yakupov, 2012's top prospect, during the NHL's Research and Development camp. With the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and others still with plenty of playing time left in them the Canucks can afford to let Laughton spend another year or two in juniors.
27) Phoenix Coyotes: C Mike Winther (Prince Albert, WHL)
Winther is very skilled and smart, though a bit on the small side. He's also a bit streaky and inconsistent. However, the Coyotes have Oliver Ekman-Larsson and some other young forwards so they can afford to give Winther some time to improve his consistency.
28) New York Rangers: D Jake McCabe (Wisconsin, WCHA)
McCabe is very solid defensively but doesn't have near as much offensive ability. The good thing is that the Rangers are loaded with offensive firepower and, at this point, their defenseman also chip in some on the offensive end of the ice. Given that fact, the Rangers can let McCabe develop his offensive game as much as needed.
29) New Jersey Devils: G Malcolm Subban (Belleville, OHL)
Subban, the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, is thought to be one of the three best goaltenders in this year's draft. With Martin Brodeur's career status up in the air, and the inevitable fact that he'll probably retire in a few years as it is, the Devils would benefit from adding a goaltender to their organization now so that they will be ready in a few more years.
30) Los Angeles Kings: LW Daniil Zharkov (Belleville, OHL)
Assuming that Columbus doesn't decide to use this pick from the Jeff Carter trade we believe the Kings will take Zharkov. He's very skilled and protects the puck quite well. He has had some injury problems, most notably a broken collarbone at the beginning of last season, and is a bit inconsistent but the Kings have the depth to give him time to develop which could prove to be very beneficial.
***Some prospects statistics, etc were found in "The Hockey News" 2012 Draft Preview Issue.***
**Toronto Maple Leafs Mike Ulmer's thoughts can be found here: http://blog.mapleleafs.com/alex-galchenyuk-could-be-a-cadillac-among-hybrids/ **
**Carolina Hurricanes power play statistics can be found here: http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm?season=20112012&gameType=2&viewName=summary#?navid=nav-sts-teams. **
*You can contact Lauren @TBLightning491 and Daily Shootout @DailyShootout on Twitter. *