After winning the NHL Draft Lottery on April 14, the Edmonton Oilers were awarded with the No. 1-overall selection for the third year in a row. As former No. 1 selections Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, along with young players like Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle, continue to develop, the Oilers are presented with an interesting decision as the clock strikes 7 p.m. on June 22.
Nail Yakupov, the consensus No. 1 pick in many scouts eyes is an extremely gifted winger who could add another goal-scoring dimension to what will be a potent Edmonton offense for years to come. His teammate with the Sarnia Sting, Alex Galchenyuk, was injured for all but two games last season. Still, with his impressive body of work during his rookie campaign, he is considered the top center coming into the draft and would add even more depth up the middle for the Oilers. Ryan Murray, the most NHL ready of the three, possesses a mature game and could help fill one of the biggest needs, along the blue line, for Edmonton.
This is the dilemma for Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini – do the Oilers pick the player best available (Yakupov, Galchenyuk) or do they fill the biggest need for their team (Murray). Tambellini has been on the clock over the past three months, leaving mystery and drama leading up to the final moments before he steps up to the podium.
After the first pick, the 2012 NHL Draft is rich with blueliners. Many of the Western Hockey League’s defensemen are expected to be selected in the first round -although few are expected to make an immediate impact this season. Many of the European skaters leading up to draft day have also been making waves, most notably left winger Teuvo Teravainen and defenseman Hampus Lindholm. Neither were ranked in the elite class of European players before the season started but have rocketed up many boards leading up to June 22. It’ll be interesting to see which teams draft these high risers, hoping they meet their potential.
Here is how I believe the 2012 NHL Draft will play out… 1. Edmonton Oilers
RW Nail Yakupov, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Takeaway – Consensus No. 1 pick, will add another dimension to a young, dynamic Edmonton core.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets
D Ryan Murray, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Takeaway – An NHL ready blueliner, possesses an advanced game for his age.
3. Montreal Canadiens
C Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Takeaway – Knee injury aside, this talented center should help the Canadiens’ woes up the middle.
4. New York Islanders
D Matt Dumba, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Takeaway – Most offensively gifted defenseman. Punishes players on the open ice.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
C Filip Forsberg, Leksand Idrottsförening (Allsvenskan)
Takeaway – Best European player on the board. Blessed with one of the best shots in the draft.
6. Anaheim Ducks
D Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Takeaway – Smooth puck-moving defenseman. Injury issues a concern but potential outweighs risk.
7. Minnesota Wild
LW Teuvo Teravainen, Jokerit (Sm-liiga)
Takeaway – In desperate need of a playmaker, this Finnish forward is the perfect solution.
8. Carolina Hurricanes
C Radek Faksa, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Takeaway – The big-bodied forward is one of the more defensively sound centers in the draft.
9. Winnipeg Jets
D Jacob Trouba, (USNTDP)
Takeaway – A smooth-skating defenseman that showcases a mature defensive minded
10. Tampa Bay Lightning
D Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Takeaway – Big, two-way defenseman with an underrated offensive game.
11. Washington Capitals
C Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Takeaway – Enigmatic, gifted forward. Reward counters the risks at this point in the draft.
12. Buffalo Sabres
C Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
Takeaway – Can play in all situations. He has a knack of putting the puck in the net.
13. Dallas Stars
D Cody Ceci, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Takeaway – Big, physical blueliner with a booming shot.
14. Calgary Flames
D Derrick Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Takeaway – A skilled passer, played for one of the premier defenses in the CHL.
15. Ottawa Senators
D Hampus Lindholm, Rogle BK (Allsvenskan)
Takeaway – One of the quickest risers in the draft, this two-way defenseman’s potential is untapped.
16. Washington Capitals
D Olli Maatta, London Knights (OHL)
Takeaway – Two-way defenseman blessed with high passing IQ and an undervalued scoring touch.
17. San Jose Sharks
D Brady Skjei, (USNTDP)
Takeaway – Purest skating defenseman in the draft. Can be extremely creative from the blue line.
18. Chicago Blackhawks
C Colton Sissons, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Takeaway – A great leader who exudes a high hockey sense. Will add depth up the middle for the Blackhawks.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning
G Andrei Vasilevski, Tolpar UFA (MHL)
Takeaway – Best goalie available. Gives Tampa its goalie of the future.
20. Philadelphia Flyers
D Matt Finn, Guelph Storm (OHL)
Takeaway – Physical defenseman shows promise as a lethal power-play threat.
21. Buffalo Sabres
D Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Takeaway – Injury robbed him much of his season. A two-way blueliner who displays high hockey IQ.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins
C Brendan Gaunce, Belleville Bulls (OHL)
Takeaway – Plays in all situations. The big-bodied center possesses a high motor and flashes a power game.
23. Florida Panthers
LW Tanner Pearson, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Takeaway – Undrafted the past two years, the late bloomer finished third in the OHL in scoring with 91 points (37G-54A).
24. Boston Bruins
C Stefan Matteau, (USNTDP)
Takeaway – Bruising player with skill. Fits in perfectly with the Bruins' style of play.
25. St. Louis Blues
C Tomas Hertl, HC Slavia Praha (Czech Extraliga)
Takeaway – Playmaking Czech has good hands and is an excellent down-low player.
26. Vancouver Canucks
LW Sebastian Collberg, Frolunda HC (Elitserien)
Takeaway – Slick-scoring Swede who displays great vision and an undervalued shot.
27. Phoenix Coyotes
RW Tomas Hyka, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Takeaway – Though slender in size, possesses elite speed with some creativity to his game.
28. New York Rangers
RW Tom Wilson, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Takeaway – Physical, skilled and drops the gloves? Sounds like Tortorella’s kind of player.
29. New Jersey Devils
G Malcolm Subban, Belleville Bulls (OHL)
Takeaway – Quickest goalie in the draft. Eventual predecessor to the ageless Martin Brodeur.
30. Los Angeles
D Jordan Schmaltz, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Takeaway – Big-bodied defenseman who’s still filling out. Led USHL among defensemen in scoring in 2010-11.