Mocking the NHL Draft: Educated guesses on the first 30 picks

By Alexander Monaghan

Everyone is doing it, so I thought: why not? Peer pressure or not, below is my third annual mock draft of the first round. Some of the picks were made due to reading the opinions of beat writers and supposed rumors/rumblings, but most of it is educated guesswork.

Obviously some picks will be moved around, making these guesses even more off-kilter. Regardless, feel free to lambaste my picks after they are all wrong on Friday. Otherwise, enjoy.

Nail Yakupov – W – Sarnia Sting (OHL)

The Oilers take Yakupov as the best player available, despite their glaring need on the blue line. In Yakupov, they add yet another lethal weapon who should play wing alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and/or Jordan Eberle.

Alex Galchenyuk – C – Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Even though this draft class is top heavy on defense, the Blue Jackets select a potentially elite center in Galchenyuk. With the team dangling captain Rick Nash, it only makes sense to take a forward who can be built around.

Mikhail Grigorenko – C – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

Rumor has it that Grigorenko might slip further into the first round due to his questionable drive. However, with Patrick Roy as his head coach for at least one more season, the Habs take the highly-skilled center.

Teuvo Teravainen – W – Jokerit (Finland)

The Isles stick to the plan by taking yet another highly-regarded forward. Teravainen has a nose for the net with a natural ability to score; he could easily contribute in the next year or two. Furthermore, the Finnish winger certainly would not be around come the seventh or eighth pick.

Filip Forsberg – F – Leksands IF (Sweden-1)

Forsberg is a slam-dunk pick for the Leafs, who desperately need a blue-chip forward prospect. The Swedish standout can play either forward or wing which gives Toronto some added flexibility up front.

Ryan Murray – D – Everett Silvertips

Unsurprisingly, Murray is the first defenseman to be selected. Surprisingly, it took six picks to get him off the board. The Ducks are thrilled to add Murray to their blue line with the inevitable loss of prospect Justin Schultz to free agency.

Jacob Trouba – D – USNTDP

The Wild take Trouba, a Minnesota native, as their top selection. The youngster has the option of playing for the Kitchener Rangers or University of Michigan — two can’t-miss development options. With stud forwards like Mikael Granlund, Zack Phillips, and Charlie Coyle already in the system, Trouba adds another element to an already deep group of players.

Radek Faksa – C – Kitchener Rangers

Faksa has size and great instincts which makes him a great pick for the Canes. GM Jim Rutherford already has a great stable of potential blue liners in Ryan Murphy, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Faulk, and Jamie McBain, giving him the flexibility to reach for Faksa. Just two seasons ago, Carolina drafted another Kitchener product– Jeff Skinner — to great results.

Morgan Rielly – D – Moose Jaw Warriors

Reilly is yet another stud blueliner, and should fit right in with the Jets. An offensive defender with a heavily-improved defensive game, Reilly should be able to step onto the big team in 2-3 years.

Olli Maatta – D- London Knights

Following an excellent campaign under the Hunters in London, Maatta finds his way onto the top 10. The Capitals holding the next pick combined with the Bolts already rostering Vladislav Namestnikov make this pick a nice fit, and a necessity at 10.

Mathew Dumba – D – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Dumba, like most d-men, slips slightly but has a nice fit with the Capitals. The two-way defender with size has the luxury of developing at his own leisure since the Caps already have a veteran blue line.

Griffin Reinhart – D – Edmonton Oil Kings

Reinhart, of the WHL Championship Oil Kings, is a very safe pick at 12. Additionally, the Sabres also roster teammate Mark Pysyk, which could lead to added chemistry within the system.

Sebastian Collberg - W – Vastra Frolunda HC (SEL

Collberg is underrated in the sense that he has less buzz than Forsberg. However, his skill should be a great fit in Dallas, who already roster one of the more skilled Swedes in Loui Eriksson. Expect Collberg to develop under the wing of his countrymate.

Derrick Pouliot – D – Portland Winterhawks

The Flames reach a bit for Pouliot, but for good reason. He fills their gap in needing an offensive defender, and he already knows future stud Sven Bartschi. For an organization looking for more skill at all positions, Pouliot is a great boom-or-bust pick.

Codi Ceci – D – Ottawa 67s

Already playing in Canada’s capitol, Ceci knows what it is like to play in a hockey-obsessed environment. After the Sens traded away David Rundblad, they needed another bona fide d-man to take his spot in the system. Ceci fills all of those needs.

Zemgus Girgensons – C - Dubuque (USHL)

The tall pivot is a bit of a wild card. On one hand, Girgensons could be a perfect checking-line center; on the other, he could fill the need as a scoring forward. Not only does the Latvian forward have a high ceiling, he also has the potential to slot back in roles, making him an incredibly safe pick at 16.

Brendan Gaunce – C – Belleville Bulls (OHL)

The Sharks boast a unique array of veteran and youth up front. Following years of domination, their core of elite forwards fell back to earth, finishing 2nd in the Pacific Division for the first time in years. Selecting a large center like Gaunce should reap benefits for San Jose as they try to add depth in their system.

Jake Paterson – G – Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

While watching top prospect Brandon Saad this past season, the Blackhawks saw a great deal of Paterson. GM Stan Bowman and company go slightly off the board with this selection in hopes that he represents Team Canada during the upcoming U-20 WJHC in January.

Tomas Hertl – C/LW - Slavia Praha HC (Czech)

Hertl is a high-risk, high-reward pick — a selection the Lightning can afford to make. The Bolts select a player they feel will eventually make the top-6, and he should fit right in alongside Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, and Steven Stamkos.

Tom Wilson – RW – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

Gritty forward with size? The Flyers are easily a perfect match for the hulking Wilson.

Malcolm Subban – G – Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Subban was expected to be the top netminder in the draft, but will have to settle for number two. Ryan Miller’s consistency has waned over the last two seasons which makes Subban a great option to have in the system.

Henrik Samuelsson  - W – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

The Pens already selected Henrik’s brother Phillip so selecting his younger sibling is no surprise. Samuelsson’s draft stock rose dramatically with the successful Oil Kings, but he still has some of father Ulf’s snare (and nastiness).

Dalton Thrower – D – Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

Since GM Dale Tallon took over the Panthers he has made nothing but safe picks. What is safer than another defenseman from the Dub? Thrower seems like a perfect match for the Panthers, who saw Erik Gudbranson make the jump to the big club last season.

Slater Koekkoek – D- Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Koekkoek slips a bit into the 20s but the Bruins are certainly not complaining. Another product of the OHL, the offensively-skilled defenseman should fit right into the Bs’ hard-working agenda.

Hampus Lindholm – D – Rogle BK (Sweden-1)

Lindholm could have gone anywhere from 10 to 30, making the Blues selection at 25 a welcome sight. Expect the young defender to make the jump to the SEL next season and represent Team Sweden in the upcoming U-20 WJHC.

Stefan Matteau – F – Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)

The Canucks’ drafting over the years has been hit-or-miss which is why they are taking a very safe pick in Matteau. The second-generation forward has more skill than his father but could also slot into a similar third-line role at the NHL level.

Matt Finn – D – Guelph Storm (OHL)

Due to their defensive strategy, it makes almost no sense for the Coyotes to draft an enigmatic or undeveloped forward. Therefore, taking an all-around blue liner like Finn makes sense for GM Don Maloney. In fact, Finn might challenge for an open roster spot as soon as next season due to a few expected vacancies.

Nicolas Kerdiles – F – USNTDP (Juniors)

Kerdiles fits the mold of recent Ranger selections as a hard-working, blue-collar forward with upside. In addition, he committed to the University of Wisconsin, who also developed current core players Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh.

Oscar Dansk – G - Brynas IF Gavle (SEL)

Martin Brodeur’s retirement is a foregone conclusion, so now is the time to start looking for goalie prospects. Dansk represents a player the Devils don’t currently have in their system– a raw, athletic netminder.

Martin Frk – W – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

The Kings won’t have their first rounder next season as they traded it away in the Jeff Carter trade, so it makes sense to swing for the fences with their top pick this year. Frk plays with future top pick Nathan MacKinnon, which can only help develop the young Czech and make him a safe pick for next season.

Make sure to check out the 2012 NHL Mock Draft Database for more mocks.