With the 2011-2012 playoffs having ended, here we take a look at the next big event in the NHL, the draft. The Los Angeles Kings are currently on top of the hockey world and now 29 other franchises are looking to emulate their success.
Have a look below at what could potentially unfold on June 22 and what we think of the picks.
- Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov – RW – Team needs: Defencemen, Goaltending - Yakupov is a blue chip forward from the Sarnia Sting with the potential to be the face of the franchise. Edmonton already has a trio of elite young forwards but Yakupov will be too good to pass up.
- Columbus Blue Jackets: Mikhail Grigorenko – C – Team needs: High upside talent – After an abysmal year, Columbus is in full-fledged rebuilding mode and will be looking to add a player with high upside. Grigorenko has the potential to be a two-way 90 point scorer, and with the seemingly inevitable departure of star Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets may look to Grigorenko as the next face of the franchise.
- Montreal Canadiens: Matt Dumba – D – Team needs: Powerplay anchor on blue line – With Andrei Markov’s return to the NHL in doubt, the Canadiens will look to take a stud defenceman. They will have a choice of either Murray or Dumba but Dumba has the higher upside and is a year younger. Montreal will take him at 3.
- New York Islanders: Ryan Murray- D – Team needs: Defence, Goaltending – A lack of first round goaltending talent will force the Islanders to go with Ryan Murray. Not that Murray will disappoint though, the Everett Silvertip star is almost guaranteed to be a force in the major leagues.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Galchenyuk- C – Team needs: First-line center, goaltending – It has been well documented that the blue and white need a first line pivot but those are far and few between. With that in mind, the Leafs will go with Alex Galchenyuk, who has the potential to be exactly what Toronto desperately needs.
- Anaheim Ducks: Filip Forsberg- LW – Team needs: Defencemen – The Ducks need a solid back end player, but Teemu Selanne probably won’t return and Forsberg will be too good to pass up. If Murray or Dumba are still available though, this might not happen.
- Minnesota Wild: Teuvo Terevainen – LW – Team needs: Defencemen - The Minnesota Wild will be in a situation similar to the Ducks. They could reach a bit down and take Jacob Trouba, but Terevainen is a highly skilled forward that would work nicely with fellow Finnish-born Mikko Koivu.
- Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Colberg – RW – Team needs: Scoring winger – The Hurricanes have Jeff Skinner, but he needs help. The young Swedish forward has pretty strong upside and if he pans out, he would give the Canes a strong 1-2 punch for years to come.
- Winnipeg Jets: Jacob Trouba- D – Team needs: Defensive defencemen – Trouba could potentially be the top shut-down guy in this draft, and the Jets need someone like that with a young goaltender between the pipes.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Griffin Reinhart – D – Team needs: Defencemen, Goaltending – With Victor Hedman, the Lightning have a stud defenseman for years to come, and they will look to add Reinhart as a high upside offensive defenceman to compliment Hedman’s game.
- Washington Capitals: Radek Faksa – C – Team needs: Goaltending – While the Capitals had considerable success in the post-season, reality is that they nearly missed the post-season. They will look to add the best talent available and my judgement says that Radek Faska of the Czech Republic with a 6’3 frame will be an attractive option to Washington and co.
- Buffalo Sabres: Morgan Rielly – D – Team needs: Defencemen – Aside from Tyler Myers, the Sabres’ defence looked pretty weak this year. Rielly is a solid talent that could help them in that department.
- Dallas Stars: Zemgus Girgenson – C – Team needs: Top line center – Losing Brad Richards hurt the Stars a lot. They missed the playoffs for the first time in a while and will be looking to reverse that heading into next year. Adding Girgenson at this stage of the draft will give them someone to potentially fill Richard’s vacant role in the near future.
- Calgary Flames: Slater Koekoek – D – Team needs: Youth – The Flames are in trouble. They have a lack of young talent but are a mediocre team with what they do have. Yet, Jay Feaster and company once again do not look to be in rebuild mode. Regardless, Slater Koekoek is a young talent with considerable upside who was unfortunate enough to suffer an injury plagued 2011-2012 season.
In general, the NHL Draft is a tough creature to predict and this year will be no different. Many of these youngsters will not be seen for two to three years, if not more. But for these fourteen non-playoff teams, their pick in this year’s draft will be something to look forward to in the future. Aside from Yakupov, there really is no guaranteed star talent this year, and even he is not a sure thing.
With that in mind, I look forward to seeing what pans out on June 22 in Pittsburgh.
Do you have any predictions? Let us know in the comments.