1. Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia, OHL
• Yakupov is the consensus number one selection in this draft. Although he does not appear to be head and shoulders above everyone else like a Sidney Crosby, he will most likely be the number one pick. Whether that is with Edmonton or someone else is the biggest question.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets – Ryan Murray, D, Everett, WHL
• Murray is probably the guy that the Oilers want, but if they trade down they probably won’t get him. The Blue Jackets are definitely gun shy about taking Russian players because of the issues they had with Zherdev and Filatov in the past. Murray is described as NHL ready which is important for a team that needs an infusion of talent and may trade its best player (Rick Nash) this summer.
3. Montreal Canadiens – Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia, OHL
• If Galchenyuk didn’t miss the majority of the 2011-12 season (only played 2 regular season games due to knee injury) I think he would have been the number one pick in this draft. However, he is still a risk as he is coming off a serious knee injury and essentially missed a year of development. Marc Bergevin swings for the fences with his first pick as GM of the Canadiens in hopes that he is getting a star.
4. NY Islanders – Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton, WHL
• The Islanders have taken forwards with their first pick each of the last four years and they make this selection based on an organizational need. Griffin, the son of former NHL player Paul Reinhart, is a big, smart defenseman that has offensive upside.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs – Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec, QMJHL
• As much as I think the Leafs covet Galchenyuk, I doubt he will be around at number 5. The size and skill of Grigorenko is too much for Brian Burke to pass on. He might be ready to step into the lineup next year, but Burke likes to give his players seasoning.
6. Anaheim Ducks – Filip Forsberg, RW, Leksands, Sweden
• Forsberg has a great combination of size and skill that the Ducks won’t be able to pass on at this point. I have seen him as high as number two on some draft boards and he could be patrolling the right wing in place of Teemu Selanne as early as next year, although he will probably stay over in Sweden for one more season.
7. Minnesota Wild – Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer, WHL
• Dumba is short in stature but still plays a physical game. He is an offensive defenseman that the Wild lack right now. He could be a steal at the 7th pick.
8. Carolina Hurricanes – Jacob Trouba, D, USNTDP
• Last year the Hurricanes took the undersized, but offensively gifted defenseman, Ryan Murphy. This year I think they go big on the blue line with Jacob Trouba. He is a good skater for a big man and could be an impact player.
9. Winnipeg Jets – Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Jokerit, Finland
• The Jets lack high end prospects at all positions so they take the best player available on the board. Teravainen might bring back memories of the Finnish Flash, but that would be hefty expectations for any player. Teravainen is a highly skilled and dynamic player as described by TSN’s Craig Button.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning – Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw, WHL
• Steve Yzerman continues to address his defense with this pick. Rielly is a highly skilled defenseman, but like Galchenyuk, missed a considerable amount of time due to injury which most likely hurt his draft position.
11. Washington Capitals – Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle, Sweden
• The first round is full of defensive depth and the Capitals have their choice at this spot. Lindholm was relatively unknown prior to the season but has rocketed up the rankings.
12. Buffalo Sabres – Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener, OHL
• The Sabres go big with their first round pick. Size down the middle is hard to find and Faksa has the skill to go along with that size. He still needs a couple years to develop and fill out, but he could be a high reward pick at 12.
13. Dallas Stars – Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque, USHL
• The Latvian native has spent the last couple years playing in the USHL and has been playing in North American since he was 15. He has good size and skating ability and he plays a gritty game.
14. Calgary Flames – Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa, OHL
• Flames take the best player on the board at this point. Ceci has a good combination of size and skating ability with a big shot from the point.
15. Ottawa Senators – Olli Maata, D, London, OHL
• Maata was great in the playoffs with the London Knights making it all the way to the Memorial Cup Championship. Maata does everything well and makes the game look easy, but his upside may be limited.
16. Washington Capitals – Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville, OHL
• Gaunce is a big, strong, two way center similar to Girgensons. He is a safe pick at sixteen, but if he can expand on his offensive game he could be a steal.
17. San Jose Sharks – Sebastien Collberg, RW, Frolunda, Sweden
• The Sharks have only one first round pick in the last four years and he (Charlie Coyle) was traded to Minnesota last off-season in the Brent Burns deal. Thus, they need to take the best player available and in my assertion that is Collberg. A smallish, highly skilled, offensive winger; something the Sharks don’t really have.
18. Chicago Blackhawks –Malcolm Subban, G, Belleville, OHL
• I am always nervous about teams selecting goalies in the first round as they take so long to develop, but Subban is the best goalie on the board and the Hawks appear to be interested in him.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning – Matt Finn, D, Guelph, OHL
• Yzerman went defense with his first pick and I think he goes there again. Going with the best player available, the Lightning are happy to grab Finn at 18. A good all-around defenseman with offensive upside.
20. Philadelphia Flyers – Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough, OHL
• Koekkoek was limited to only 26 games this year which has hurt him in the rankings, but he is a big, physical defenseman that is a good skater.
21. Buffalo Sabres – Tom Wilson, RW, Plymouth, OHL
• Sabres go for a big forward again with their second pick. Wilson is a beast at 6’4” that plays a physical game. He may not have high end offensive upside but he should be an NHL forward.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins – Pontus Aberg, LW, Djurgarden, Sweden
• The Penguins can use some organizational depth on the wing and they will be happy to grab Aberg in the first round. He is a smallish forward but very skilled and could fit nicely beside Crosby or Malkin in a couple years.
23. Florida Panthers – Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland, WHL
• Pouliot is an offensive defenseman that might be the most underrated player in the draft given his stature for his position. Dale Tallon won’t let him slip by if he is available.
24. Boston Bruins – Tomas Hertl, C, Slava Praha, Czech Republic
• Bruins have good organizational depth and go with the best player available on the board. He is a good playmaker that had a good showing at the World Junior Championships this past year. He will most likely stay in Europe giving him time to develop.
25. St. Louis Blues – Brady Skjei, D, USNTDP
• Skjei brings the Blues some depth to their defensive prospects. He is a smooth skating defenseman that has good size at 6’3”.
26. Vancouver Canucks – Colton Sissons, C, Kelowna, WHL
• Sissons is a very good two-way forward that was a captain of his junior team. He brings a ton of character and would be a feel good story if drafted by his hometown Canucks.
27. Phoenix Coyotes – Mark Jankowski, C, Stanstead, Quebec Prep
• The Coyotes lack top end talent at the forward position and I think they go off the board with their first round pick to try and find a diamond in the rough. Jankowski is a late bloomer that has played the last two seasons at a Quebec prep school. He’s had a huge growth spurt and now stands 6’3”. Since he has not played against high end talent he is a risk, but he could be well worth the reward.
28. New York Rangers – Ludvig Bystrom, D, MODO, Sweden
• Rangers take the best player available and that happens to be Swedish defenseman, Ludvig Bystrom.
29. New Jersey Devils – Andrei Vasilevski, G, Ufa, KHL
• The Devils have decided to keep their pick this year (they need to give up a first round pick in 2012, 2013 or 2014 as punishment for the Ilya Kovalchuk contract saga) which is a little odd seeing it is the 29th pick out of 30 picks in the first round. So they are either planning on using it in a deal or they have a player in mind that they really like. They may be looking to Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski as Martin Brodeur is on his last legs and they lack goalie depth.
30. LA Kings – Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa, OHL
• They will likely take the best forward available on the board at this point and that would be Laughton. He plays a good two way game and he is not afraid to mix it up.