Yesterday, Huw posted his mock for the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft and today we publish my take on how the first round will go. I wrote this mock without having a peek at Huw's, so it's very interesting to see just how different our takes on how the first round will shake out are -- and should also be a testament to just how impossible it is to really guess what these crazy NHL teams will do once the picks are being made.
1st Overall: Edmonton Oilers
Their selection: Ryan Murray D Everett Silvertips
The Oilers have a decision to make: go for what many consider the best overall player in the draft or fill the glaring need for a #1 defenseman who can also help a
struggling power play team that is struggling with point production from the blue line. Ryan Murray is the best defenseman in the draft, one of the rare blueliners who does everything and does it all extremely well.
2nd Overall: Columbus Blue Jackets
Their selection: Nail Yakupov RW Sarnia Sting
The Blue Jackets get over their frustration of losing the lottery and find the top player in the draft fall into their lap. Yakupov is coming off an injury and has a few red flags but he's also the most gifted player in this draft and someone a rebuilding team would love to have as the cornerstone of their franchise.
3rd Overall: Montreal Canadiens
Their selection: Alex Galchenyuk C Sarnia Sting
The Canadiens jump at the chance to pick up a supremely talented forward and center prospect, bolstering an underwhelming depth of forwards in their system and likely providing an instant offensive boost next season once Galchenyuk is fully healthy and back on the ice.
4th Overall: New York Islanders
Their selection: Filip Forsberg C Leksand
The Islanders are the first team to go after a European skater, lured by the goal-scoring and playmaking prowess of Forsberg. They also draft a much-needed leader in the locker room, someone who can step in and lead by example on the ice.
5th Overall: Toronto Maple Leafs
Their selection: Morgan Rielly D Moose Jaw
It could be argued that Rielly should have been the top defenseman in this draft, but a torn ACL has bumped him down a bit in the draft. He's the most creative blueliner in the draft and also the most cerebral, and provides the Maple Leafs with the legit blue-chip prospect they desperately need.
6th Overall: Anaheim Ducks
Their selection: Mikhail Grigorenko C Quebec Ramparts
In a perfect world Grigorenko would be gone by the 2nd pick in the draft. What else is there to say about this kid other than he's one of the most offensively gifted players to come out of the draft in a very long time, the perfect combination between speed, size and skill. Worries over his motivation issues and the possibility of heading back to Russia lead him to get passed over until the 6th pick.
7th Overall: Minnesota Wild
Their selection: Olli Maata D London Knights
The Wild would have been happy merely taking the BPA at this point, and the fact that their BPA is Olli Maata is just icing on the cake. A skilled defenseman with good size and intelligence in his own zone, Maata is also more than capable of leading the offensive charge up the ice and should be ready for the NHL very, very soon.
8th Overall: Carolina Hurricanes
Their selection: Jacob Trouba D USA U-18
The Hurricanes, already with a few talented young forwards, bolster their system with a defenseman that is another great combination between size and skill -- and he should continue to gain size. He's perhaps the most cerebral defenseman in the draft and provides an instant boost to a Hurricanes system that desperately needs a top defenseman.
9th Overall: Winnipeg Jets
Their selection: Sebastian Colberg RW Frolunda Jr.
Colberg has been a bit of a divisive prospect leading up to the draft, with his lack of points production at the top level in Sweden worrying some. Yet there is no doubt Colberg possesses considerable offensive talent and the Jets are in desperate need of elite scoring skill at the forward position.
10th Overall: Tampa Bay Lightning
Their selection: Teuvo Teravainen LW Jokerit
Teravainen may just turn out to be the best offensive player in this draft, if his lack of size doesn't prohibit him from fulling developing at the NHL level. The Lightning have experience with developing young, speedy yet undersized forwards and Teravainen is no doubt one heck of a talent to have fall all the way to the 10th spot.
11th Overall: Washington Capitals
Their selection: Cody Ceci D Ottawa 67s|
If there is any sign of just how deep this draft is in the first round it's the fact that Ceci fell all the way to 11th and right to the Capitals, who desperately need elite talent on their blue line sooner than later.
12th Overall: Buffalo Sabres
Their selection: Griffin Reinhart D Edmonton Oil Kings
The Sabres go for pure BPA here, with the large-yet-skilled defenseman from Edmonton providing further depth for an already deep defensive group in their system.
13th Overall: Dallas Stars
Their selection: Radek Faksa C Kitchener Rangers
The Dallas Stars, in desperate need of depth at center both in the system and in the NHL, find themselves with a plethora of centers and skilled defensemen to choose from. Radek Faksa, considered one of the absolute top centers in the draft, made the transition from the Czech Republic to North America with ease, scoring 66 points in his first season in the OHL. Faksa is a very balanced center who is able to score goals and provide great playmaking skill as well, with size and puck-possession ability creating one of the best all-around and most balanced players in the draft.
14th Overall: Calgary Flames
Their selection: Matthew Dumba D Red Deer
The Flames fill a big void in their system with Dumba, a skilled defensman capable of putting up big numbers with a great shot and good vision from the point.
15th Overall: Ottawa Senators
Their selection: Hampus Lindholm D Rogle Jr.
The Senators go with the skilled defenseman from Europe as they attempt to find more skill and scoring on the blue line, with little to no depth existing within the system on defense.
16th Overall: Washington Capitals
Their selection: Brendan Gaunce C Belleville
The Capitals rejoice when Gaunce, a supreme offense talent, falls their way at #16 and instantly provide blue-chip depth for a system that has dropped to one of the worst in the NHL. Gaunce is a physical power forward that will provide the sort of grit and tenacity that the organization desperately needs.
17th Overall: San Jose Sharks
Their selection: Stefan Matteau C USA U-18
Matteau has the potential to become the next Brenden Morrow, a fiery power forward with goal-scoring skill who isn't afraid to take on anyone at anytime. Matteau is also a proven leader and plays his best when the most is on the line, the type of player the Sharks are in dire need of in the system.
18th Overall: Chicago Blackhawks
Their selection: Malcolm Subban G Belleville
The Blackhawks are the first team to go after a goaltender, as Corey Crawford proved this past season that the goaltending position is far from locked down. The Blackhawks also don't have anyone behind him, either. Enter Subban, who should be ready for the NHL in about three years.
19th Overall: Tampa Bay Lightning
Their selection: Matthew Finn D Guelph
Finn is a very good, well-rounded defenseman who isn't the biggest player on the ice but perhaps one of the smartest. Very good hockey intelligence and the ability to lock down in the defensive zone while still providing offensive skill up the ice; the perfect pairing for Victor Hedman.
20th Overall: Philadelphia Flyers
Their selection: Zimgus Girgensons C USHL
A physical, two-way forward who provides a tremendous scoring punch, Zirgensons is yet another addition to a talented group of forwards coming up through the Flyers system. He's also a proven leader and is willing to stand up for his team at any moment; one of the top two-way players in the draft.
21st Overall: Buffalo Sabres
Their selection: Colton Sissons C/RW Kelowna
Colton Sissons is another physical forward who leads his team by setting the perfect example on the ice. A gritty power forward who's physical aggression could leave him vulnerable to injury, Sissons is the perfect addition to a Sabres system that lacking considerable depth at the forward position.
22nd Overall: Pittsburgh Penguins
Their selection: Tomas Hertl C Slavia (Czech Rep.)
You know what the Penguins desperately need? A power forward with great size and speed who is one of the best finishers in his draft class and possesses great creativity with puck from the center position. They certainly don't have enough of those, do they?
23rd Overall: Florida Panthers
Their selection: Derrick Pouliot D Portland
Pouliot is one of the best offensive-defensemen in the draft and is adept at running a successful power play, yet he not the most well-rounded defensemen out there. A bit undersized at 5-11, 185, Pouliot has trouble with defensive coverage in his own end and is susceptible to coughing up the puck against an aggressive forecheck.
24th Overall: Boston Bruins
Their selection: Pontus Aberg LW Djurgarden (Sweden)
Alberg played 47 games in the SEL this past season as an 18-year old, putting up 8 goals and 15 points. For a young player of high school age taking on grown men, that's not insignificant. He's a perfect example of the type of two-way forwards that Sweden regularly produces.
25th Overall: St. Louis Blues
Their selection: Thomas Wilson RW Plymouth
One of the bigger forwards in the draft, Wilson provides tremendous physical aggression while also proving capable of putting up the points despite limited minutes. Wilson rarely played on either of the top lines in Plymouth, and needs to work on his mobility in tight spaces -- he's so big that he has trouble in close quarters.
26th Overall: Vancouver Canucks
Their selection: Tanner Pearson LW Barrie
How does a player with 91 points in 60 games slide all the way to 26? By being a 20-year old prospect and breaking his leg in the final game of the season.
27th Overall: Phoenix Coyotes
Their selection: Scott Kosmachuk RW Guelph
A gritty two-way forward who is versatile and able to play in multiple situations, Kosmachuk fits the mold of the "perfect Coyotes forward."
28th Overall: New York Rangers
Their selection: Erik Karlsson C Frolunda Jr.
No, it's not the same guy.
29th Overall: New Jersey Devils
Their selection: Martin Frk RW Halifax
I still have no idea how to pronounce his name. Frk had his season shortened by injury but was well on his way to posting 30+ goals and 60 points.
30th Overall: Los Angeles Kings
Their selection: Phillip Digiuseppe LW NCAA
The Kings need skilled wingers with offensive upside and Digiuseppe provides excellent potential after putting up 26 points as true freshman with Michigan this past season.
Why Radek Faksa?
Because this is who I feel the Dallas Stars desperately need. The Stars are a team that needs top talent at the center position at the NHL level and in the system and Faksa has the ability to get to the NHL very soon -- and could possibly push for a spot next season if given the opportunity. He's the perfect combination between size and skill and is one of the most well-rounded players in the draft. More than anything, the Stars are in desperate need of blue-chip talent at the forward position and cannot afford to take on another project player or reach in the first round. The Stars, with this draft, have the chance to instantly upgrade a system and position that has been overlooked the past few years.