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2012 Entry Draft Predictions



blog-0778318001325554433.jpgHope everyone had a safe and fun new year. Here's to an amazing 2012!

Since the NHL is (almost) officially half way through the 2011-2012 season. Based off the current (January 1, 2012) standings, I will predict the entire 1st round of the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, which is set to take place in Pittsburgh this June. So sit back and enjoy, and get a first look at who your team may be drafting! Note that this is only part 1, if you guys approve I'll post part 2 for all of you Philly fans.

First overall pick belongs to The Columbus Blue Jackets:

Columbus selects: Nail Yakupov from the Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Nail Yakupov is arguably the most highly skilled player available in the 2012 NHL Draft. In the 2010-2011 season, he put up outstanding numbers, recording 101 points in 65 games, and scoring nearly 50 goals for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. This was as a rookie. Scouts are already drooling over Yakupov's skill that will surely make him a top scorer in the NHL someday. Selected 2nd overall by the Sting in the 2010 CHL Import Draft, Yakupov played along fellow rookie star Alex Galchenyuk this past season, and it will be interesting to watch the two dominate helpless defensemen during the 2011-2012 season. Yakupov has been criticized for being a selfish player by some, but others love how he uses his teammates to score goals. “The Russian Factor” scares some NHL scouts away, but Yakupov has made it clear that he has no intentions of leaving the NHL for the KHL.

NHL Comparison: Alex Ovechkin

Second overall pick belongs to The Anaheim Ducks:

Anaheim selects: Mikhail Grigorenko from the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

Mikhail Grigorenko is yet another Russian player looking to be selected in the top three. He is an extremely talented center with great

hands, amazing IQ, superb vision and tons of offensive upside. He is a mainstay on Russia's junior national team as their top center, and was voted Player of the Tournament at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.

NHL Comparison: Nick Backstrom

Third overall pick belongs to The New York Islanders:

New York selects: Mathew Dumba from the Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Matt Dumba is a strong and swift skater with a big shot and a knack for delivering open-ice hits with his six-foot, 172-pound frame.

He has a hard and accurate shot that he gets through to the net consistently. Matt’s puck control is top notch, he’s able to beat players one on one and drives the net like a power forward. One of the biggest things about Matt’s game is that he makes very few mistakes, and the few mistakes he does make, he’s able to recover from by using his good hockey sense.

NHL comparison: Dion Phaneuf

Fourth overall pick belongs to The Carolina Hurricanes:

Carolina selects: Filip Forsberg from Leksands IF (Swe)A dynamic skater with stellar offensive instincts, Filip Forsberg (no relation to Peter Forsberg) is a star on the rise in Sweden. Forsberg has an elusive stride that makes him very difficult to contain. His speed is extraordinary for a player so young. He carries the puck well on his stick and he is very poised. He is not very big but he is very strong. He can maneuver through tight spaces with ease. Forsberg is an offensive threat who has a quick shot, crisp passes and soft hands. He can dangle around opposing defensemen and come in on goal very well.

​NHL Comparison: Martin Havlat

Fifth overall pick belongs to The Tampa Bay Lightning:

Tampa Bay selects: Ryan Murray from the Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Murray was the team captain for Canada in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and led them to a gold medal. He is regularly noted for hisgreat puckmoving ability. In 70 games with the Silvertips in 2010-2011, Murray scored 46 points, including 40 assists. Ryan Murray is looked at as a future two-way defenseman in the NHL, and will likely be a solid defenseman for years to come.

NHL Comparison: Kris Letang

Sixth overall pick belongs to The Edmonton Oilers:

Edmonton selects: Jacob Trouba from the U.S. National U18 Team (USHL)

Jacob Trouba is a big, (6'1") physically deadly defenseman coming out of the USHL. He was supposed to rival Yakupov for the top pick, but since his stock has dropped. He isn't really offensive, either. He has the potential to be a top pairing, bruising defender.

NHL Comparison: Scott Stevens (not quite that good, just had no one else in mind)

Seventh overall pick belongs to The Montreal Canadiens:

Montreal selects: Alex Galchenyuk from the Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Since being selected first overall in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection, Alex Galchenyuk has had a lot of pressure on him to perform at an elite level. So far, he's doing just fine. In his rookie year in the OHL, Galchenyuk tallied 83 points in 68 games for the Sarnia Sting, scoring 31 goals.The 6'2 teenage star is certain to go very high in the 2012 NHL Draft, and grab another load of very high expectations in the process. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Galchenyuk was drafted into the OHL from the Chicago Young Americans after absolutely dominating the league, scoring 87 points in just 38 games.

NHL Comparison: Marian Hossa

Eighth + Ninth overall picks belong to The Washington Capitals:

Washington selects: Zemgus Girgensons from the Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

A native of Riga, Latvia, Zemgus Girgensons has been a pleasant surprise in North America. He has good size, soft hands and a physical edge to his game that make him a can't-miss prospect. Girgensons has great skating stride and he plays well at all ends of the ice. He has

tremendous leadership despite not knowing a lot of English. His first season in North America with the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints was a huge success, nearly going a point per game, and winning the Clark Cup as league champion that season. A smart, two-way centre, he can play in all situations and he can be counted on for also dishing out the big hit when needed. He has acclimatized quite nicely to the North American style.

NHL Comparison: Joe Thornton


Morgan Rielly from the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Morgan Rielly has potential. Rielly may be destined for greatness in the NHL one day. At this point he is just another defensive prospect who needs more seasoning in the WHL. Rielly is a sharp player at both ends. His knowledge could expand. The knowledge will grow and develop over time getting stronger.

NHL Comparison: Kris Letang

Tenth overall pick belongs to The Buffalo Sabres:

Buffalo selects: Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67's (OHL)

A big defensemen with dynamic, fast skating and huge offensive upside, Ceci can win races to the puck and can stop breakaways. The player, considered a 200-ft defenseman, can go deep into the opponents’ ice and still return to his position. Thanks to agility, he is capable of quarterbacking power plays --where his slap shot shines. He is also good at executing the first pass to start the breakout, essential to the start of a good offensive rush, and at winning one-on-one battles in his own zone. Ceci is very calm, composed and consistent with the puck. If this eighteen-year-old wants to be more of a defensive asset on his team, he should start getting in front of opponents’ shots more often to reduce the goalie’s amount of work. He could also improve his mobility along the oppositions’ blueline to get open. Another year in the OHL is all he needs to become a well-rounded NHL defenseman.

NHL Comparison: Brent Burns

Eleventh overall pick belongs to The Los Angeles Kings:

Los Angeles selects: Brandon Gaunce of the Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Brendan Gaunce has great vision, skating ability, hockey sense, a pro calibre shot, and unbelievable leadership qualities on and off the ice. He was the highest-scoring AAA minor midget hockey player in Ontario in his OHL draft year with 55 goals and 93 assists for 148 points in 86 games with the Markham Waxers. In his rookie year with the Belleville Bulls, Gaunce had 36 points in 65 games, and will be relied on heavily in the 2011-2012 season. One of Brendan's role models growing up was Brendan Shanahan. Considering his size, Gaunce is an above average skater, however it will need to be improved to be a star at the next level.

NHL Comparison: Shane Doan

​Twelfth overall pick belongs to The Phoenix Coyotes:

Phoenix selects: Slater Koekkoek of the Peterborough Petes (OHL)

In only his first season in the OHL, he became the team's most reliable defenceman. The Petes are a young team and, even for a 1994-born player, he surely brought leadership and drive. His work ethic is exemplary and he has veteran savvy. Koekkoek has a heavy and accurate shot; it would not be out of the question to see him score double-digit goal totals in the OHL, even by next season. His passes are crisp and quick. He has a fluid skating stride that allows for him to jump into the rush. Additionally, Koekkoek can also play physical, making him a great all-around defenceman. He has potential to be a powerplay quarterback in Peterborough. His leadership was evident at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2010 where he helped Team Ontario win gold; he also won gold at the 2011 Memorial Tournament of Ivan Hlinka for Canada as an alternate captain. He plays the game with passion and tenacity; he is an exciting player to watch. His name might be hard to say but, in time, everyone will be saying it.

NHL Comparison: Ryan Suter

​Thirteenth overall pick belongs to The Ottawa Senators:

Ottawa selects: Griffin Rienhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

This six-foot four, two hundred pound blueliner from the Edmonton Oil Kings has all the tools needed to have a successful pro career. His father Paul played over 600 NHL games in his career, and his brother Max is a highly touted Calgary Flames prospect. Griffin thinks that one of his strong points is his shot, which isn't too surprising given his size. But scouts will also tell you that his mobility on the ice is another strength. Pro scouts are salivating at the thought of having Griffin on their blueline some day, as big mobile defenseman are highly sought after in today's NHL. He only drops this low because of a serious knee injury he suffered early last year.

NHL Comparison: Shea Weber

Fourteenth overall pick belongs to The Winnipeg Jets:

Winnipeg selects: Olli Maatta of the London Knights (OHL)

Maatta is a solid, two-way defenseman who does not possess any significant deficiencies. His excellent feet and agility allow him to stay with even the speediest of forwards, resulting in quality one-on-one defensive coverage and giving Maatta shutdown capabilities. Maatta is an aggressive defender, as he successfully takes away time and space from the opposing puck carrier by consistently closing the gap. Though he is not the type to stand up a player at the blue line, his strong frame and physical play make Maatta a tenacious defender along the boards. His attack mentality and ability to push opponents off the puck both lead to continuous success in the defensive end.

NHL Comparison: Paul Martin

Fifteenth overall pick belongs to The New Jersey Devils:

New Jersey selects: Nick Ebert from the Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

Originally from Livingston, New Jersey, Nick Ebert has taken his game to a whole new level in the last few years. Ebert was playing in the USHL with the Waterloo Black Hawks at the age of 15, a remarkable feat, and now he's taken his talents north to the OHL, playing his first season with the Windsor Spitfires in 2010-2011. He was lighting up the New Jersey high school circuit just a couple of years ago, once scoring two shorthanded goals on the same penalty-kill. Now that he's playing at a higher level in the OHL, Ebert is still getting better every game. During the 2010-2011 season, Ebert put up 41 points in 64 games while scoring 11 times.

NHL Comparison: Jack Johnson

Alright folks, there you have it. If you enjoyed, let me know in the comments so I know if I should even work on part 2, because this literally took me all night.

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Very nice work Habs fan.....would love to see part 2. Agree with most of the rankings, although it's a crapshoot right now. A lot will change between now and June....but nicely thought out projections! The one part I can intelligently comment on is Nick Ebert. He had a really slow start to the year. I know some rank him in the top 15, but I find it hard to believe he'll be anything but a late 1st round pick. To me, this kid has bust written all over him. Just my take, but agree with everything else....again, thanks for the effort!

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Thank you! It took me roughly 8 hours after i finished watching countless youtube videos and reading countless scouting reports.. glad you liked it!

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Washington has 2 first round picks. At some point this team will pull it together and win the cup. I mean, how can they not?

Another Russian going to the Jackets. Another Russian going back to the KHL.

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He has no intentions of leaving -- but that's what he says now. If you ask me, if Columbus does end up winning the 1st overall pick, they should trade down. and I completely agree about Washington.

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