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2012 NHL Draft

Players with Russian ties could go early in 2012 draft

Friday, 06.15.2012 / 2:25 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

There's a chance three players with Russian ties could be among the top five picks at the 2012 NHL Draft on June 22 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

If it happens, it will be the first time since 2001, when Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Svitov and Stanislav Chistov were chosen first, third and fifth, respectively. There's also a possibility Russian players could go first and second overall for the first time since 2004, when Alex Ovechkin went No. 1 to the Washington Capitals and Evgeni Malkin was taken No. 2 by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"It would be great if that many Russian players went in the draft, but for me, I want to be No. 1," NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater, Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting, told NHL.com.

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Samuelsson should be right at home at draft

Friday, 06.15.2012 / 12:09 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Henrik Samuelsson admits he was too young to remember what life was really like in Pittsburgh when his dad starred on defense as a member of the Penguins in the early 1990s.

Still, Henrik knows how special it would be for dad to hear his son's name called on the stage at Consol Energy Center during the NHL Draft in the city where he won two Stanley Cups.

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Record-setting Roy turns sights to draft

Friday, 06.15.2012 / 12:00 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Lincoln Stars center Kevin Roy admitted he just wanted to do something special during his draft-eligible year in the United States Hockey League.

His mission was accomplished by being named 2011-12 USHL Player of the Year.

Roy became the first player in the league's Tier 1 era (2002-present) to score at least 50 goals in a season and he led the league with 104 points. He helped Lincoln to a 38-18-4 regular-season record, the most wins for the Stars in 10 years.

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Zachary Stepan following cousin Derek's path

Friday, 06.15.2012 / 10:01 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Let's cut right to the chase, shall we?

Cousins Zachary and Derek Stepan are completely different players.

For starters, there's the discrepancy in age. Zachary, who will play for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League next season, is 18 years old and No. 53 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft.

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Seattle's Troock making up for missed time

Friday, 06.15.2012 / 9:13 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Deborah Francisco - NHL.com Staff Writer

After missing an entire Western Hockey League season due to a mysterious head injury, Seattle Thunderbirds right wing Branden Troock might be one of the biggest question marks in the 2012 NHL Draft, to be held June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.

The question is how high is Troock's upside? With just one full season in the Western Hockey League on his resume, Troock has given scouts only a glimpse of what he can do.

"He hasn't reached his potential yet because of some injuries, but the upside is still there and he has a lot of talents that would let him move on and give him a chance to be a pro," Thunderbirds General Manager Russ Farwell said.

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These teams had their best days at the draft

Friday, 06.15.2012 / 9:00 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

For the 50th time, NHL teams and club executives will gather in Pittsburgh for the chance to select the next wave of talented hockey players.

The two-day selection gala in Pittsburgh on June 22 and 23 has come a long way since 1963, when six teams met inside the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

However, one thing hasn't changed. The draft is the culmination of a year's worth of effort for the hard-working scouts, who have traveled long hours across two continents in their search to find the next great NHL star.

It's a hard target to hit, and becomes harder every year as the talent pool continues to widen and deepen. But when they do hit, it can be a franchise-changing experience.

With 49 drafts in the book, it seems like a good time to rank which teams had the best moments in the history of the draft.

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Top goalie prospects could change draft trend

Thursday, 06.14.2012 / 3:05 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Will the 2012 NHL Draft one day be remembered as the Year of the Goaltender?

Last year, a goalie wasn't selected in the opening round for the third time in five years. NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said there might be a run on them at this year's draft, to be held June 22-23 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

"It would not surprise me to see an increase in the number of goaltenders selected earlier in the 2012 draft than where they have been selected in the last few seasons," Marr told NHL.com. "There hasn't been more than two goalies selected in the first round since 2004, and I believe there are four strong goaltending prospects worthy of first- or early second-round consideration. Three are the top-ranked European goalies, and this would continue a trend of excellent young goaltenders coming from Europe."

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Maatta didn't need long to adjust to surroundings

Thursday, 06.14.2012 / 2:47 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Olli Maata had 32 points in 58 regular-season games for the Knights. (Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Generally, coming to North America is a big adjustment for any European player, and Finnish-born defenseman Olli Maatta was no different when he arrived for his first training camp with the London Knights this past August.

How long that adjustment takes varies. For some, it can take half the season. Others pick it up fairly quickly.

"Maybe about 10 games and he was probably our best defenseman," London teammate Josh Anderson said of Maatta.

The 6-foot-2, 202-pound blueliner had 32 points in 58 regular-season games for the Knights, and was even better in the postseason. He led all Ontario Hockey League defensemen in the playoffs with six goals, and no blueliner had more than his 23 points. He helped London win the OHL title and advance to the Memorial Cup championship game. Add in his time with Finland at the 2012 World Junior Championship, and Maatta played 82 games in 2011-12.

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Three Euro goalies can make impact at Draft

Thursday, 06.14.2012 / 2:11 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

In addition to there being a number of top North American goalie prospects from which to choose at the 2012 NHL Draft, the crops of Europeans manning the crease looks to be equally, if not more, impressive.

NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb is very high on the top three goalies he has ranked on Central Scouting's final list of European goaltenders -- Andrei Vasilevski, Oscar Dansk and Joonas Korpisalo.

"I'm pretty sure Dansk and Vasilevski will be taken in the first round," Stubb told NHL.com. "Korpisalo will go high in the second round."

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Sutter's rise coincides with improved two-way play

Thursday, 06.14.2012 / 12:59 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

One viewing of Saskatoon Blades forward Lukas Sutter and any NHL scout or general manager would conclude he's a regular chip off the old block.

In fact, when asked to describe the type of player he's been called, the 6-foot, 207-pound center said "two-way forward and agitator."

Sutter's father, Rich, played 874 career NHL games spanning 13 seasons with seven different teams. In three seasons with the then-Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Hockey League from 1980-83, Sutter racked up 718 penalty minutes in 193 games.

While Lukas fell far short of the numbers recorded by his father, he's certainly no stranger to trips to the penalty box. In 148 games spanning three seasons with the WHL's Blades, Sutter has totaled 352 penalty minutes, including 165 in 70 games in 2011-12. According to hockeyfights.com, he also got into 10 fights -- seven short of the 17 times he fought in 2010-11.

"I don't think it's something where I go out of my way to [agitate], but I'm a physical guy and if guys get off their game because they're more worried about the way I'm playing, then I'm successful," Sutter told NHL.com. "I've always prided myself on being a team-first guy and it's not a thing I go out and look for, but if you have a teammate who gets run over or put in a bad position, then I feel I'll be one of the first guys there to support him and back him up."

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2012 NHL Draft