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27

2012 NHL Draft Grades

by Bill Placzek on Jun. 27, 2012

All team GM's and fans could say how great or poorly they did, but it won't matter, because this draft class as a whole will take longer than most others. From Pick 1 to Pick 211 there are no sure-fire superstars, but this draft class does have many potential major players. Whether they admit it or not, NHL teams hope that the high character youngsters they select not only graduate to the pro game, but develop into high impact stars, no matter which slotting they were chosen in.

My grades will be based not on the amount of picks, but on the possibility of the drafted prospects making contributions on NHL rosters five years from now.

Of course though I will bump up grades for teams where they took my favorites or prospects that are clearly ahead of the curve towards NHL long-term advancement and domination. Value in the players picked and where they are picked will also be key factors.

 

At first glance, I like a lot of team boards, but here are the grades:

 

Anaheim Ducks

Grade: B

Top Picks: Hampus Lindholm (6), Nicholas Kerdiles (36)

1

6

Hampus Lindholm

D

Rogle BK (Allsvenskan)

6' 3"

195

2

36

Nicolas Kerdiles

C

US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)

6' 1"

183

3

87

Frederik Andersen

G

Frolunda HC (SEL)

6' 4"

247

4

97

Kevin Roy

LW

Lincoln (USHL)

5' 8"

166

4

108

Andrew O'Brien

D

Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

6' 3"

200

5

127

Brian Cooper

D

Fargo (USHL)

5' 9"

180

7

187

Kenton Helgesen

D

Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

6' 3"

186

7

210

Jaycob Megna

D

Nebraska-Omaha

6' 4"

202

Stinging from former draftee Justin Schultz's total rejection of their organization, the Ducks draft defenseman Lindholm, who was a riser all season. Lindholm is a big fluid Swedish defender in the Eckman-Larsson mold, who competes hard and has a big upside. Kerdiles still hasn't completely escalated his offensive game, but will be given many opportunities to do so. Late in the third they chose Andersen a swedish goaltender to develop. Their last four choices were in an area of need on defense, where O'Brien, Helgesson, and Megna offer size. Cooper is a small package with plenty of offense and toughness.

 

Boston Bruins

Grade: C 

Top Picks: Malcoln Subban (24)

1

24

Malcolm Subban

G

Belleville (OHL)

6' 0.5"

183

3

85

Matt Grzelcyk

D

US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)

5' 9.25"

148

5

131

Seth Griffith

C

London (OHL)

5' 9"

180

5

145

Cody Payne

C

Plymouth (OHL)

6' 2"

189

6

175

Matt Benning

D

Spruce Grove (AJHL)

6' 0"

210

7

205

Colton Hargrove

LW

Fargo (USHL)

6' 1"

215

Two years off their Stanley victory, the Bruins draft was one full of promise, but also one with few guarantees. I simply love Goaler Subban for his athleticism and the energy he brings to his position. I thought he might be gone as early as slot 18 to the Blackhawks, because most teams see an incredible upside that could turn out to be gold in the net. The fine line between true major league success and mediocrity will be a line this wonderful kid straddles over the next five seasons of development. In fact, all of the players the Bruins ferreted out have negatives to go along with the positive upsides. U.S. junior Grzelcyk is skilled but small and light for even the new age defenders. I love Griffith for his all-around play anywhere across the front line and the p.p. point, but again size may limit his opportunities in an organization that prefers big and tough to small and skill. Cody Panye from the powerhouse Plymouth Whalers is thick bodied and has some upside, but may not look like a big scorer type. Scouts see something special in the Alberta Hockey League's Benning, and thick rearguard and wing Hardgrove from the USHL. Benning is the son of of ex-pro Brian, and plays with his head on a swivel, and is able to see all the ice and make smart adjustments. Very tough player with up-ice skill, he is a long term developmental player.

 

Buffalo Sabres

Grade: B  

Top Picks: Mikhail Grigorenko (12), Zemgus Girgensons (14), Jake McCabe (44), Justin Kea (73) 

1

12

Mikhail Grigorenko

RW

Quebec (QMJHL)

6' 2.5"

183

1

14

Zemgus Girgensons

C

Dubuque (USHL)

6' 2.25"

195

2

44

Jake McCabe

D

US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)

6' 0.25"

192

3

73

Justin Kea

C

Saginaw (OHL)

6' 4"

203

5

133

Logan Nelson

C

Victoria Royals (WHL)

6' 1"

176

6

163

Linus Ullmark

G

Modo Hockey (SEL)

6' 3"

198

7

193

Brady Austin

D

Belleville (OHL)

6' 3"

234

7

204

Judd Peterson

C

Marshall High School

6' 0.5"

195

I am torn completely on my grade of the Sabres. From first look, the Sabres added two future NHL'ers who will get to play and be judged on their production in the NHL. Grigorenko will most likely see pro minutes pretty early in his career. A lot depends upon how he is able to adjust to the pro game in terms of assignments and production. His career is tied to possible returns to the homeland, which HAS too be an issue in the Draft grading process. Girgensons is a high-character, team-oriented kid who when he finally leaves college will also get every opportunity to make the Sabres. Wisconsin's Jake Horton is not huge, nor star material, but has displayed an excellent game with few holes, despite no outstanding attributes. Kea fits the Cup prototype of a big banger, but needs to get quicker feet. Nelson, another center, is slender and tall and an intriguing long-term prospect. Their scouts then dug deep to find a Swedish goaltender to develop in Ullmark, a big load in D-man Brady Austin of Belleview, and a highly thought of high school center in Peterson. This draft could be an A if their top two eventually contribute in their top three lines, and any of the others advance to the big game and bring additional value. There simply is much risk tied to so many of these specific draftees, so I am gonna hold back the A and go straight B. I will let the other graders heap the praises before the results are in…

 

Calgary Flames

Grade: C+

Top Picks: Mark Jankowski (21), Patrick Sieloff (42), Jon Gilles (75)

1

21

Mark Jankowski

C

Stanstead College

6' 2.75"

171

2

42

Patrick Sieloff

D

US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)

6' 0"

173

3

75

Jon Gillies

G

Indiana (USHL)

6' 4"

204

4

105

Brett Kulak

D

Vancouver (WHL)

5' 11.75"

165

5

124

Ryan Culkin

D

Quebec (QMJHL)

6' 1"

174

6

165

Coda Gordon

LW

Swift Current (WHL)

6' 1"

179

7

186

Matt Deblouw

C

Muskegon (USHL)

6' 0.5"

185

There is nothing extraordinary about every draft year a team is willing to throw caution to the wind and go for what they think is the diamond. The Jets did it last year, passing on Dougie Hamilton for Mark Schefile. And the Flames selection of Jankowski will not be the last. This move makes perfect sense but will be forever tied to the player drafted in the Flame's original slot, Zemgus Girgensons, and additional player, Patrick Sieloff, that the Flames acquired in the drop-down. If these two players pan out as NHL'ers of equal or greater stature than Jankowski, the Flames will never hear the end out it. The Flames really did their homework on the rest of their later developmental picks and took a big goaltender in Gilles, and two excellent long-term defenseman. How does Coda Gordon last until the 6th round. He could be another steal of the draft. And Matt Deblouw might spend time at Michigan State but could graduate NHL-ready.

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Grade: B

Top Picks: Phil DiGuiseppe (38), Brock McGinn (47), Daniel Altshuller (69)

2

38

Phillip Di Giuseppe

LW

Michigan

6' 0"

190

2

47

Brock McGinn

LW

Guelph (OHL)

5' 11"

168

3

69

Daniel Altshuller

G

Oshawa (OHL)

6' 2"

194

4

99

Erik Karlsson

C

Frolunda HC (SEL)

5' 11"

160

4

115

Trevor Carrick

D

Mississauga (OHL)

6' 2"

169

4

120

Jaccob Slavin

D

Chicago (USHL)

6' 2"

200

5

129

Brendan Woods

LW

Wisconsin

6' 3"

205

6

159

Collin Olson

G

US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)

6' 3"

190

7

189

Brendan Collier

LW

Malden Catholic High School

5' 9"

168

Let's first agree that Carolina won this draft by not selecting in the first round and acquiring Jordan Staal. They solidified a solid stable of prospects without selecting in the first. Altshuller and Olson are really good long range goalie replacements. Di Giuseppe is going to college powerhouse Michigan in the CCHA for now and already displays excellent vision, a heady offensive game, and figures to be a more polished all-around wing when he leaves. Look for him to have a definite bee-line to the NHL. McGinn has a brother already in the NHL, and another already drafted. He isn't very big at this juncture, and didn't display huge numbers (as a wrist injury kept him out most of the season), but is an excellent all-around physical player with offensive potential. The "other" Erik Karlsson is a player who need time to be more consistent. Trevor Carrick is a defense prospect who shows promise as an aggressive, but strong positional defender, with decent upside as an improved up-ice guy. Slavin is actually very similar but he has a bit more of a development road to travel. In spurts, Collin Olsen seems to be progressing and I am sure the Hurricanes are hoping he gains lateral quickness and improves his glove hand. Collier will take his developing three-zone game to Boston University and hopefully check in at the PNC in Raleigh a bit later.

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Grade: B

Top Picks: Teuvo Teravainen (18), Dillon Fournier  LhRD  (48) 

 

1

18

Teuvo Teräväinen

RW

Jokerit Helsinki (SM-liiga)

5' 10"

157

2

48

Dillon Fournier

D

Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)

6' 1"

160

3

79

Chris Calnan

RW

Noble & Greenough School

6' 2"

195

5

139

Garret Ross

LW

Saginaw (OHL)

5' 11"

185

5

149

Travis Brown

D

Moose Jaw (WHL)

6' 1"

179

6

169

Vincent Hinostroza

RW

Waterloo (USHL)

5' 10"

160

7

191

Brandon Whitney

G

Victoriaville (QMJHL)

6' 5"

191

7

199

Matt Tomkins

G

Sherwood Park (AJHL)

6' 1.75"

171

Blackhawks benefit for a Teravainen drop down, as he was a consensus rank between 5 and 11 and they can honestly say, "We didn't think he would be there."  It remains to be seen if he reaches the projection as a high impact NHL'er. Fournier is also a projection, but one that already skates like a pro. Calnan projects as a possible power player, Ross as a disruptor, and Hinostoza as a speedy attacker. All have a ways to go to be ready, but Ross won't need much time to hone his strengths. Travis Brown has fine upside due to the rapid leap his game has taken so far. Brandon Whitney is an intriguing goaltender with an airplane wingspan. Tompkins saw rubber in the BCHL, and handled the task. Granted, the Blackhawks have done well to draft good skaters and skilled players, but there are no guarantees that impact players have been selected until the buds flourish.

 

Colorado Avalanche

Grade: C

Top Picks: Mitch Heard (41), Troy Bourke (72)

2

41

Mitch Heard

C

Plymouth (OHL)

6' 1"

190

3

72

Troy Bourke

LW

Prince George (WHL)

5' 10"

150

5

132

Michael Clarke

C

Windsor (OHL)

6' 1"

184

6

162

Joseph Blandisi

C

Owen Sound (OHL)

5' 10"

182

7

192

Colin Smith

C

Kamloops (WHL)

5' 10"

172

Although I don't see any high end solutions coming from this group, I see "plays hard" attached to each and every name. Heard is a 3rd year eligible who has added some touch to his size and aggression. Bourke was one of the more elusive and smallest players at the World U-18s. Clarke is three position forward who has offensive upside. Blandisi is an offensively gifted forward, and Smith is an smaller skilled scorer. The Avs farm may boast three quality defensemen prospects but there is always a need to find more. If they hadn't locked on Heard the best place to have addressed the need was with the 41st overall pick. After that, in each round D-men seemed to be gone right before the Avs were on the clock. You take what you are given. And let's hope they were given values.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Grade: B

Top Picks: Ryan Murray (2), Oscar Dansk (31), Joonas Korpisalo (62)

1

2

Ryan Murray

D

Everett (WHL)

6' 0"

198

2

31

Oscar Dansk

G

Brynas IF (SEL)

6' 2"

185

3

62

Joonas Korpisalo

G

Jokerit Helsinki (SM-liiga)

6' 1"

163

4

95

Josh Anderson

LW

London (OHL)

6' 1"

183

6

152

Daniel Zaar

RW

Rogle BK (Allsvenskan)

5' 11"

167

7

182

Gianluca Curcurto

D

Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

6' 1"

187

I can't swallow the "all Islanders picks in 2012 for the 2nd overall" tale. Murray is a tremendous pick, with no weaknesses. There is no Weber-like cannon, or elusive mail carrying ability; just a solid mistake-free player through and through who makes the other players on the ice better. Loved the way the Jackets addressed a need in goal, and Dansk and Korpisalo will eventually bring healthy competition exactly where they need it. the last year selections are all excellent value. Anderson has a bright future, Zaar is a two way wing with offensive upside, and Curcurto is a steal if he continues to gain some edge read the ice better, and lets his shot go with confidence.

 

Dallas Stars

Grade: B+

Top Picks: Radek Faksa (13), Ludvig Byström (43), Mike Winter (54), Devin Shore (61)

1

13

Radek Faksa

C

Kitchener (OHL)

6' 2"

183

2

43

Ludvig Byström

D

Modo Hockey (SEL)

6' 0"

190

2

54

Mike Winther

C

Prince Albert (WHL)

5' 11"

170

2

61

Devin Shore

C

Whitby (OJAHL)

6' 0"

184

3

74

Esa Lindell

D

Jokerit Helsinki (SM-liiga)

6' 1.5"

182

4

104

Gemel Smith

C

Owen Sound (OHL)

5' 9.25"

153

5

134

Branden Troock

RW

Seattle (WHL)

6' 3"

185

5

144

Henri Kiviaho

G

KalPa Kuopio (SM-liiga)

6' 1"

167

7

183

Dmitry Sinitsyn

D

Lowell

6' 2"

200

Clearly the Dallas scouts chose a potpourri of players with various strengths and weaknesses that project to help them throughout the line-up. Faksa is a horse who is strong on the ice and plays both ends. May never be a star offensive player but has upside as a guy who can slide up and down the lines as a center or as a wing. The second round shopping spree was bang on. Byström is cool under pressure, not a a real up ice guy, but may be a good pro when his skating improves. Winter is not the biggest guy but strong and has a knack for finding the spots, although he must toughen up. Shore is not the fastest, but is a developing attacker with a good eye for the net. Lindell is a big thick defender who is a long-term project but very intriguing guy. Smith is excellent value; a smaller man with great speed, checking, and passing ability. Troock had some brain cramps at the World U-18, but is no stranger to the battle areas or being physical, and has some offensive skills too. Dallas hedged their bet in the net by taking Finn Kiviaho, who is 6' 3" 185 lb. and promising. Dallas took a shot with a Russian defender playing college hockey with their final pick. 

 

Detroit Red Wings

Grade: B-

Top Picks: Martin Frk (49)

2

49

Martin Frk

RW

Halifax (QMJHL)

6' 0.5"

198

3

80

Jake Paterson

G

Saginaw (OHL)

6' 0"

173

4

110

Andreas Athanasiou

LW

London (OHL)

6' 0"

165

5

140

Michael McKee

D

Lincoln (USHL)

6' 4"

230

6

170

James De Haas

D

Toronto Lakeshore (OJAHL)

6' 2.75"

197

7

200

Rasmus Bodin

C

Sweden

6' 6"

207

A textbook example on how to run a draft. Detroit comes in with no pick until 49, and takes power play specialist in Frk because he is there. He has limited size and lack of a 200-foot game, but one heck of a cannon. They try early instead of late on developmental goalie in Jake Paterson. Why wait, if you know which one you want. Athanaslou is a blazer who needs his hand and stick to catch up to his feet. In the fifth and sixth rounds they take defensemen, one huge mean one, and one bigger developing one. They finish with a guy, Bodin that their scouts rate highly and no one else has ever seen play. 

 

Edmonton Oilers

Grade: B

Top Picks: Nail Yakupov (1), Mitch Moroz (32), Jujhar Khaira (63)

1

1

Nail Yakupov

RW

Sarnia (OHL)

5' 11"

185

2

32

Mitchell Moroz

LW

Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

6' 2"

180

3

63

Jujhar Khaira

LW

Prince George (WHL)

6' 3"

184

3

91

Daniil Zharkov

RW

Belleville (OHL)

6' 3"

195

4

93

Erik Gustafsson

D

Djurgardens IF (SEL)

6' 0"

176

5

123

Joey Laleggia

D

Penticton (BCHL)

5' 9"

165

6

153

John McCarron

RW

Cornell

6' 2"

219

Can you say you did good if you get the top-ranked guy? I think so. I understand the connection to Moroz, and how his lunch pail fits needs as the heavy lifter with some offensive upside. I simply love the physical game the improving Khaira brings too. Zharkov leads all leagues in diving, but can work to eventually improve on being a North American pro. Edmonton fans were scratching their heads when they didn't take a defender, which was a team need, until the 4th round, but they got sleepers in 3rd yr. eligible Gustafsson and tiny University of Denver pioneer Laleggia. McCarron is already in school at Cornell and is looked at as a possible big body in the future.

 

Florida Panthers

Grade: C

Top Picks: Mike Matheson (23)

1

23

Michael Matheson

D

Dubuque (USHL)

6' 1"

170

3

84

Steven Hodges

C

Victoria Royals (WHL)

5' 11"

165

4

114

Alexander Delnov

RW

Mytishchi (KHL)

6' 0"

187

6

174

Francis Beauvillier

C

Rimouski (QMJHL)

6' 1"

170

7

194

Jonatan Nielsen

D

Linkopings HC (SEL)

6' 3"

180

A nice season puts Dale Tallon's team at slot 23, out of reach of the normal easy decisions of the past when they have a plethora of picks to choose from early in the rounds. This year they didn't even have a 2nd or 5th rounder. There was an organizational need at defense and they may have reached with Matheson, as he has a long way to go in his own zone. Hodges is small, but a meat and potatoes three-zone guy who takes the body and gets into battles in the dirty areas. Delnov was a World Under-18 surprise as an obscure Russian who blossomed there. Their sleeper might be Beauvillier, who is big, skates like the wind, but needs the parts in place to really be an NHL-type player. Tallon traded up in the 7th to take 2nd year eligible Nielsen, another Swedish prototype rearguard in training, who has skill and feet. Although he needs time to develop and get more opportunities to improve. This group may eventually provide more pieces for the Panthers re-build. It may not be stars, but many high echelon teams are built with glue players and surprises.

 

Los Angeles Kings

Grade: B

Top Picks: Tanner Pearson (30)

1

30

Tanner Pearson

LW

Barrie (OHL)

6' 0"

192

4

121

Nikolay Prokhorkin

LW

CSKA Moscow (KHL)

6' 2"

183

5

151

Colin Miller

D

Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

6' 0"

175

6

171

Tomáš Hyka

LW

Gatineau (QMJHL)

5' 11"

158

6

181

Paul Ladue

D

Lincoln (USHL)

6' 1"

186

7

211

Nick Ebert

D

Windsor (OHL)

6' 0.5"

193

This is more of "B-maybe" grade because it is based on Prokhorkin coming over, Hyka being able to be a three zone NHL player, and one of my favorites, the last pick in entire Draft, Nick Ebert working out the kinks and showing he is a tough-nosed NHL D-man with an all-around game. Pearson is an opportunistic worker bee that the fans will love. Hyka prefers the clean areas but don't count him as out because of size. The Kings like what they saw in Miller from the developmental camp last summer. He is a bit undersized but displays good feet and upside. Former Grand Forks Central high schooler Ladue was a calm presence on Lincoln of the USHL backline, and will develop at the University of North Dakota.

 

Minnesota Wild

Grade: B

Top Picks: Mathew Dumba (7), Raphael Bussieres(46), John Draeger (68)

1

7

Mathew Dumba

D

Red Deer (WHL)

5' 11"

184

2

46

Raphael Bussieres

LW

Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)

6' 0"

183

3

68

John Draeger

D

Shattuck-St. Marys School

6' 1.5"

186

4

98

Adam Gilmour

RW

Noble & Greenough School

6' 2.5"

194

5

128

Daniel Gunnarsson

D

Lulea HF (SEL)

6' 4"

207

6

158

Christophe Bertschy

LW

Bern (NLA)

5' 9"

162

7

188

Louie Nanne

LW

Edina Senior High School

5' 10"

170

With The Wild rebuild already under way, they concentrated away from center (their area of strength) and did a remarkable job. The first two guys will be contributing sooner rather than later. The rest might need more time with the possibility of being significant additions later. Mathew Dumba is an exciting back liner who effortlessly can jump up in the plays and be a force at both ends. Bussieres comes really fast with puck skills, but needs to develop a better defensive commitment. I simply love Draeger's potential; he will add speed & strength at Michigan State. Two bloodliners flow into the Wild camp. Adam Gilmour, son of Doug, projects as a forward who may play all three forward positions and a special teams good-stick, great-feet, big-forward. Gunnarsson is a third year eligible, physical two-way defender, who skates with balance and hits with power. He is a skilled puck-handler who can pass the puck accurately or take it end to end. Has a strong physical presence along the wall and in front as well as the ability to control gaps with a quick stick or a quick burst into the area. 

 

Montreal Canadiens

Grade: A

Top Picks: Alex Galchenyuk (3), Sebastian Collerg (33), Dalton Thrower (51), Tim Bozon (64)

1

3

Alex Galchenyuk

C

Sarnia (OHL)

6' 0"

194

2

33

Sebastian Collberg

RW

Frolunda HC (SEL)

5' 11"

174

2

51

Dalton Thrower

D

Saskatoon (WHL)

6' 0"

195

3

64

Tim Bozon

LW

Kamloops (WHL)

6' 1"

178

4

94

Brady Vail

LW

Windsor (OHL)

6' 1"

190

5

122

Charles Simard-Hudon

LW

Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

5' 8.5"

165

6

154

Erik Nystrom

LW

Modo Hockey (SEL)

5' 11"

176

At some point during the season I had all of their top six selections as worthy of at least third round status, even if it was short-lived. Alex Galchenyuk could be a star, or at least a second center. Collberg has great skill and can also be an excellent NHL'er. Thrower may not be as fluid as Bobby Orr, but he is as tough. He is more than a tough guy though, as he has decent all around skills. Bozon is simply a steal. One of the few skilled players with plenty of upside and no pussycat. Vail is a strong defensive shut down type with offensive upside. Simard-Hudon may be small and one dimensional, but he is so creative, and johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to being open and gifted to light the lamp. 

 

Nashville Predators

Grade: B-

Top Picks: Pontus Aberg (37), Colten Sissons (50), Jim Vesey (66)

2

37

Pontus Åberg

LW

Djurgardens IF (SEL)

5' 11"

187

2

50

Colton Sissons

RW

Kelowna (WHL)

6' 1"

182

3

66

Jim Vesey

LW

South Shore (EJHL)

6' 2"

185

3

89

Brendan Leipsic

C

Portland (WHL)

5' 8"

155

4

112

Zach Stepan

C

Shattuck-St. Marys School

6' 0"

160

4

118

Mikko Vainonen

D

HIFK Helsinki (SM-liiga)

6' 2"

210

6

164

Simon Fernholm

D

Huddinge IK (SEL)

6' 4"

187

6

172

Max Gortz

RW

Farjestads BK (SEL)

6' 2"

196

6

179

Marek Mazanec

G

Plze (Czech)

6' 4"

187

I love Pontus Åberg and think he may be the goal scorer for the Preds. Sissons may not be fast afoot, but he is a solid character and player, who will give his all every night. Second year eligible Vesey also has solid value as an NHL projection, whereas diminutive Leipsic is simply a player. Stepan will get a chance as more of low-end player, although not as high-profile as Derek. The two Euro defenders, Vainonen & Fernholm are both unfinished products, but have plenty of developmental upside and are going to a team that seems to excel in developing prospects. Gortz is a creative wing who's feet needs work. Mazanec is a big Czeck developmental goaler they will slowly bring along.

 

New Jersey Devils

Grade: C-      

Top Picks: Stefan Matteau (29), Damon Severson (60)

1

29

Stefan Matteau

LW

US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)

6' 1"

201

2

60

Damon Severson

D

Kelowna (WHL)

6' 1"

175

3

90

Ben Johnson

C

Windsor (OHL)

5' 11.5"

185

4

96

Ben Thomson

LW

Kitchener (OHL)

6' 4"

212

5

135

Graham Black

C

Swift Current (WHL)

5' 11"

173

5

150

Alex Kerfoot

C

Coquitlam (BCHL)

5' 9.5"

153

6

180

Artur Gavrus

C

Owen Sound (OHL)

5' 11"

178

What were you thinking Lou? (Or where you thinking one of the top two goalers would be there?) You should have surrendered this pick and been done with it. Next year's draft is chock-filled with guys that by pick 29 would still have more up-end. Matteau may hit hard, but he has no sense of timing, and little upward scoring ability. Love the upside of Severson, see Johnson & Thomson as possible players, and see some strong low end picks in terms of quality. Black is a gritty PK guy, Kerfoot is a smaller scorer, and Gavrus is a speedy fearless Belarusian, who dangles laterally into the rough spots, has a heavy shot, and good push as an attacker. Still, he is a smaller man playing like a big one. I am just not sure how all these guys fit in the picture. I hope they make me look stupid and make the Devils draft the best of all.

 

New York Islanders

Grade: B+

Top Picks: Griffin Reinhardt (4), Ville Pokka (34), Adam Pelech (65)

1

4

Griffin Reinhart

D

Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

6' 3"

206

2

34

Ville Pokka

D

Karpat Oulu (SM-liiga)

6' 0.5"

192

3

65

Adam Pelech

D

Erie (OHL)

6' 2"

200

4

103

Loic Leduc

D

Cape Breton (QMJHL)

6' 4"

194

5

125

Doyle Somerby

D

Kimball Union Academy

6' 4"

215

6

155

Jesse Graham

D

Niagara (OHL)

5' 11"

160

7

185

Jake Bischoff

D

Grand Rapids High School

6' 0.25"

178

The B plus is based on the fact they took all defenseman. Never has happened before, and I applaud the guts to do it. Anyone who doesn't see the long term upside in Reinhardt better check their eye exam. He is still working on increasing push and fluidity and he may be the defender whose size and usefulness bring the most lasting career from the strong class. Pokka needs time to improve defensively but passes the puck and takes the body well. Pelech will never be a high end up-ice guy, just an extremely polished defensive player. Leduc is tough and working on his mobility, while Somerby is also big framed and growing, but needs improved feet. Jesse Graham is a tremendous up-side offensive generator in an under six foot, thin package that needs girth to handle NHL attackers, unless a move to wing is in his future. Bischoff is average sized and will attend the University of Minnesota where it is hoped that his good overall game escalates to an excellent one. The beauty of this All-D-Day is that they are all different in levels of expertise.

 

New York Rangers

Grade: C+

Top Picks: Brady Skjei (28), Boo Nieves (59)

1

28

Brady Skjei

D

US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)

6' 1"

183

2

59

Boo Nieves

C

Kent School

6' 2"

185

4

119

Calle Andersson

D

Farjestads BK (SEL)

6' 1"

194

5

142

Thomas Spelling

RW

Herning (Denmark)

6' 1"

165

Four picks and all have upside. Skjei is never going to be Bobby Orr going up ice, but skates the puck well. This kid skates with balance and likes to rub attackers out with big hits. Great at skating backward and meeting attackers in the corners and the front. May not have the creativity and savviness to be an offensive generator on a first power play unit, but is going to play it safe and take care of business. It truly is a stretch to think that Nieves is exactly similar to Chris Kreider in terms of being a good skater who develops slowly through college and comes in as a surprise. The real difference at this point is Kreider was able to score at the lower level and continue to score as he moved up to the pros. There is supreme hope that Nieves finally does start scoring. He clearly moves like a special player, but the hands, stick, and shot have to come soon. Anderson has great skating abilities, physicality, and offensive upside. His fluidity, lateral speed, and pivoting ability allow him to control gaps and close lanes defensively. His smooth puck handling skills make him a transition horse as he reads the ice well and plays with patience. He still has to grow his intensity.

 

Ottawa Senators

Grade: C

Top Picks: Cody Ceci (15), Chris Driedger (76)

1

15

Cody Ceci

D

Ottawa 67's (OHL)

6' 3"

203

3

76

Chris Driedger

G

Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

6' 2"

175

3

82

Jarrod Maidens

C

Owen Sound (OHL)

6' 2"

170

4

106

Timothy Boyle

D

Noble & Greenough School

6' 1"

185

5

136

Robbie Baillargeon

RW

Indiana (USHL)

5' 11"

161

6

166

Francois Brassard

G

Quebec (QMJHL)

6' 1"

160

7

196

Mikael Wikstrand

D

Mora (Allsvenskan)

6' 0.75"

185

This collection is a bit iffy for me. I am not doubting Ceci's skating, size, passing prowess or offensive instincts. It's just that I have to wonder how a player can play major league defense and not be physical or take the body. He is still young and can grow a full game. A bit of a head scratcher to think the Senators used their second chance at adding personel on a goaltender, when they seem young there in the farm. Yet teams sometimes follow their lists very strictly. They made a nice segue in the third round to Maidens, who missed most of the year with a severe concussion after being ranked as a late first round/early second choice prior to the injury. He wouldn't be the first player who had concussions before his draft year (Jonathan Toews comes to mind). Bloodlines lead the Senators to Boyle whose brother is a NY Ranger. He is off to Union College to get better. Baillargeon is a hockey smart center/wing, who despite his lack of explosiveness, smaller stature, and secondary minutes, was a deceptively skilled passer and scorer. The Senators went goalie again with Brassard, who will be Patrick Roy's number one in Quebec. Wikstrand is a sturdy two-way defender who never looks out of position, plays a smart game, and is an excellent long term prospect and value in the later rounds of this draft.

 

Philadelphia Flyers 

Grade: D+

Top Picks: Scott Laughton (20), Anthony Stolarz (45)

1

20

Scott Laughton

C

Oshawa (OHL)

6' 0"

170

2

45

Anthony Stolarz

G

Corpus Christi (NAHL)

6' 5"

200

3

78

Shayne Gostisbehere

D

Union College, New York

5' 11"

160

4

111

Fredrik Larsson

D

Brynas IF (SEL)

6' 3"

172

4

117

Taylor Leier

LW

Portland (WHL)

5' 10"

174

5

141

Reece Willcox

D

Merritt (BCHL)

6' 3.25"

184

7

201

Valeri Vasiliyev

D

Spartak Moscow (KHL)

6' 3"

183

Although I understand Laughton's selection, and think it is a fine pick, I see six other names that have a long way to go to even be considered possibilities for the big dance. 

Laughton is not big or intimidating, but an intelligent diagnostician of what's happening around him and an incredibly fierce competitor. He's good with the puck on the fly, and one of the premier defensive shut down forwards in this draft, as well as an excellent all-around player. Stolarz may have some high end potential, but there is a ton of work in store to bring it to the forefront. Gostisbehere came out of nowhere to catapult into the Flyers third round want list. He is an undersized player who is excellent defensively, but shows a natural ability to supplement the attack. His Union College defense led the nation in goals-against (1.83 goals allowed/game). He has an active stick, great lateral agility, and engages on most enemy attacks. The Flyers continued to seek out defenders by taking Larsson, a tough, skinny Swedish defender who does some dirty work, and Willcox, a big two-way player who is on his way to Cornell University. Leier is a scrappy hitter with a decent skill set and commitment to disruption.

The last pick is basically a lottery ticket for an extremely gifted Russian who looks like it is his time soon. He is raw but brings a whole bit of nasty with every chance he gets. My grade goes up if a diamond is found in these rough selections.

 

Phoenix Coyotes

Grade: B

Top Picks: Henrik Samuelsson (27), Jordan Martinook (58)

1

27

Henrik Samuelsson

RW

Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

6' 2.1"

192

2

58

Jordan Martinook

C

Vancouver (WHL)

6' 1"

208

3

88

James Melindy

D

Moncton (QMJHL)

6' 1"

181

4

102

Rhett Holland

D

Okotoks (AJHL)

6' 1.75"

202

5

148

Niklas Tikkinen

D

Blues Espoo (SM-liiga)

5' 11"

172

6

178

Samuel "Hunter" Fejes

LW

Shattuck-St. Marys School

6' 1"

179

7

184

Marek Langhammer

G

Pardubice (Czech)

6' 2"

172

7

208

Justin Haché

D

Shawinigan (QMJHL)

6' 2"

201

Despite all the trials desert hockey fans had to put up with, their team played their mitts off and came in drafting close to the end of the round, a place they had never started from. Taking Henrik Samuelsson is a homecoming of sorts as his father use to coach there. Sonny boy may not be a gifted stick handler or mail carrier into the zone, but he provides an excellent facet as a nasty physical big man who has enough skill to surprise from anywhere inside the blue line. Martinook at the end of the second round is a reach, but he is a third year eligible who has developed his skating and quickness and scored 40 goals with Vancouver, projecting as a nice bottom-six body upfront that can cause problems. Defenseman Melindy is a big Newfoundlander who skates well and has an emerging physical game, but also likes to carry the mail. Holland may not display flash & dash, but closes gaps quickly and shows some decent mobility for a bigger man. His play in the Alberta Hockey League includes large doses of power play minutes and shows all the tools to continue his progression as a solid defenseman. Tikkinen is fairly new to playing defense, but his speed and attack skills warrant watching him progress. Fejes is a native Alaskan who will be given the opportunity to develop as a down low power player at Colorado College. Langhammer is a Czeck goaler still learning to play the position. Finally, Hache' is a raw Quebec-league defender who has a quick stick, and is still learning to use his body and hone his offensive and defensive talents. 

 

Pittsburgh Penquins

Grade: B+

Top Picks: Derrick Pouliot (8), Olli Maatta (22)

1

8

Derrick Pouliot

D

Portland (WHL)

5' 11"

192

1

22

Olli Määtä

D

London (OHL)

6' 2"

198

2

52

Teodors Bluegers

C

Shattuck-St. Marys School

6' 0"

176

3

81

Oskar Sundqvist

C

Skelleftea AIK (SEL)

6' 3"

187

3

83

Matt Murray

G

Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

6' 3"

160

4

92

Matia Marcantuoni

C

Kitchener (OHL)

6' 0"

189

4

113

Sean Maguire

G

Powell RIver (BCHL)

6' 1"

204

5

143

Clark Seymour

D

Peterborough (OHL)

6' 3"

205

6

173

Anton Zlobin

RW

Shawinigan (QMJHL)

5' 11.5"

186

I don't know if hosting the draft puts extra pressure on the home team, but after having to announce that you had to trade a rising player who has helped you win Lord Stanley's Cup, it has to bring solice to your fan base that you did you homework to stock the cupboards for long-term success. I thought Pouliot might have lasted until 14 but 8 might be just as great..for the Pens that is.  Already an outstanding point man, he effectively reads and reacts with pro-like passing ability. An offensive defenseman who also is a give-no-ground good skating defender. Opinions varied on Määtä, but I see his biggest strength being his consistency of his play, game in and game out. He displays good speed, vision, and stamina and plays hard no matter how much time is on the clock. He passes the puck with excellent accuracy, and has a heavy point shot. He battles and engages the opposition. So what, if he is average in his first two steps and less offensive-minded than many of the other D-men in this draft. He is going to play well for many years. Sleeper Bluegers is a natural for the game, a good face-off man, good passer, and strong wall driver. He finds the open man and finds the soft opening to receive the puck. Whether on wing or center he brings options. Sundqvist is a prototypical Swedish center with a developing two-way game. Matt Murray, the hero of the Under-18 tourney for Canada looks to have a bright future if brought along slowly. The oft-time injured Marcantuoni is one of the fastest players in the draft with top-end speed and effortless separation gear, but needs to be able to develop the rest of his game to a point where it compliments the speed. Maguire is a long term developmental goalie and Zlobin is a 2nd yr. eligible, who is a natural goal scorer that finally got noticed when he scored the Memorial Cup winning goal. A fine array of possibles taken after two probables. A good draft!

 

 

San Jose Sharks

Grade: C-

Top Picks: Tomas Hertl (17), Chris Tierney (55)

1

17

Tomas Hertl

C

Praha Slavia (Czech)

6' 2"

194

2

55

plus.png

Chris Tierney

C

London (OHL)

6' 0"

170

4

109

Christophe Lalancette

RW

Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

6' 0"

154

5

138

Daniel O'Regan

C

St. Sebastian's School

5' 9.5"

172

6

168

Cliff Watson

D

Sioux City (USHL)

6' 3"

205

7

198

Joakim Ryan

D

Cornell

5' 11"

180

Sure Hertl has upside, but not like Kopitar had. Far too many questions about his transition to the pro game to start penciling him in the major league lineup. The under-appreciated Tierney is someone who can mesh with linemates and make them better. Far from the finished product, Lalancette's a smaller wing with exceptional skill, natural toughness, and offensive prowess. O'Regan is a two-way center with grit, gears, and excellent transitional instincts. He plays on the PK and is a threat to move the puck for a scoring play every shift, but all of this is only at the high school level. Cliff Watson is an aggressive developmental defenseman who has size, good skating and passing abilities, and plays well in his own zone. 2nd yr. eligible is a good athlete in a small package.

 

St. Louis Blues

Grade: C-

Top Picks: Jordan Schmaltz (28), Sam Kurker (56), Mackenzie MacEachern (67)

1

25

Jordan Schmaltz

D

Green Bay (USHL)

6' 2"

170

2

56

Sam Kurker

RW

St. John's Preparatory School