Seeing as the draft lottery occurred tonight, is the perfect time for the first 2012 Mock Draft:
1.) Edmonton Oilers- Nail Yakupov, LW
- Oilers luck out and get first overall for third straight year. They can worry about their defensive issues later- putting Nail Yakupov, a winger reminiscent of Pavel Bure, with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle gives the Oilers an insane offensive core.
2.) Columbus Blue Jackets- Filip Forsberg, LW
- Jackets just can't win, can they? GM Howson has been connected to Forsberg more than any other prospect, and losing the lottery gives him the excuse he needs to draft the safest forward left in the Swedish sniper known in these parts as "Forsb."
3.) Montreal Canadiens- Mikhail Grigorenko, C/RW
- Canadiens need to infuse some size and skill into their lineup, so it's their luck that Mikhail Grigorenko is still on the board. This pick becomes even likelier if Patrick Roy joins the Canadiens before the draft.
4.) New York Islanders- Ryan Murray, D
- Isles finally land their defensive cornerstone, as the steady, two-way Everett Silvertips star could challenge for an NHL spot this season.
5.) Toronto Maple Leafs- Alex Galchenyuk, C
- Maple Leafs hope they land their #1 center with this pick. Galchenyuk, who some scouts have as high as 2nd overall, missed the vast majority of this season with a knee injury, but Toronto takes the small risk with the two-way star Galchenyuk.
6.) Anaheim Ducks- Mathew Dumba, D
- Dumba is the best player on the board at this point, and the Ducks may need a cornerstone defense prospect to replace Justin Schultz if he leaves as a free agent. Dumba is a 6'0'', 185 lb. defenseman who is a clone of P.K. Subban. Can score the big goal and land the huge, open-ice hit.
7.) Minnesota Wild- Cody Ceci, D
- Ottawa 67's top defenseman has a 17 goal, 60 point season in 64 games in the OHL. At 6'3''. 210 lbs., he also has NHL ready size. Could be a terrific two-way defenseman for a long time. Reminds scouts of Brent Seabrook.
8.) Carolina Hurricanes- Radek Faksa, C
- Hurricanes had great success in the 2010 draft with a Kitchener Rangers forward, and will look to duplicate that success here. Faksa is a great two way forward who has seen his draft stock rise as this season has gone on.
9.) Winnipeg Jets- Griffin Reinhart, D
- Has tremendous size (6'4'', 200 lbs.), but is a raw prospect. Could be the best defenseman taken in the draft, or could be Ty Wishart. A couple of years away, but could develop into a monster on the blueline.
10.) Tampa Bay Lightning- Jacob Trouba, D
- Trouba, committed to the University of Michigan for next season, is the best player available at this point, and will make a really solid top 4 defenseman in Tampa Bay for a lot of years.
11.) Washington Capitals*- Brendan Gaunce, C
- Capitals use pick acquired from Colorado for Varlamov on big center who is probably the least risky prospect in this draft. He is virtually guaranteed to be a third-line center in the NHL, and could be a top-six center if his offense develops.
12.) Buffalo Sabres- Morgan Rielly, D
- Sabres take a flier on the offensively gifted Rielly. Scouts are wowed by Rielly's offensive game, but his play in his own zone could use work. Also only played 18 games in juniors this season due to injury.
13.) Dallas Stars- Teuvo Teravainen, LW
- Stars land Finnish winger Teravainen, whose draft stock has risen dramatically in the last few weeks. A pure goal scorer, he could find himself in the top ten by draft day.
14.) Calgary Flames- Zemgus Girgensons, C
- Committed to the University of Vermont for next season, gritty center Girgensons, while a few years away from the NHL, could be a difference-maker when he arrives.
15.) Ottawa Senators- Olli Maatta, D
- Senators land defensive-minded Maatta, a terrific defender in his own zone. Great size at 6'2'', 200 lbs., probably a year away from the NHL, at least.
16.) Washington Capitals- Derrick Pouliot, D
- Smart, offensive-minded defenseman capable of taking games over. Could use work in his own zone, but projects to be a top-4 defenseman down the line.
17.) Florida Panthers- Sebastien Collberg, RW
- Arguably the fastest skater in the draft, Collberg will make a solid fit in the Panthers' top 9. Should his goal scoring touch transfer over to the NHL, the Panthers could have a star on their hands.
18.) Columbus Blue Jackets*- Matt Finn, D
- Consistent, safe defenseman will be a top 6 blue line for years. Uncertain how high his ceiling is. Columbus caps a risk-averse first round.
19.) San Jose Sharks- Slater Koekkoek, D
- Nasty defender probably a few years away, but could be a second-pairing defensive-defenseman down the line.
20.) Phoenix Coyotes- Ludvig Bystrom, D
- Swedish defender compares favorably to Oscar Klefbom, drafted 19th overall by EDM last season.
21.) Chicago Blackhawks- Malcolm Subban, G
- Chicago has had goaltending problems this season, and have no long term option on the horizon. Subban, while a few years away, could be a star. Reminds scouts of Carey Price.
22.) New Jersey Devils- Pontus Aberg, LW
- Devils grab scoring winger who is 1-2 years away from the NHL. Willing to go to the dirty areas to score goals.
23.) Tampa Bay LIghtning*- Andrei Vasilevski, G
- Lightning use late first rounder acquired for Steve Downie to land their goalie of the future. Vasilevski reminded scouts of Dominik Hasek at the world juniors. Riskier than Subban because of his status as a Russian junior league player. Has reportedly expressed interest in playing in the NHL; worthwhile risk for Bolts.
24.) Boston Bruins- Tom Wilson, RW
- Wilson and Milan Lucic on the same team, or even same line? Terrifying. Tough winger not afraid to drop the gloves or throw the huge hit, but can also score goals. Projects to be a Lucic-type power forward. Could be an enforcer if his offense doesn't develop.
25.) Philadelphia Flyers- Brady Skjei, D
- American defenseman headed to the University of Minnesota next season; likely 3-5 years away from the NHL. Definitely a project for the Flyers, but a lot of raw talent.
26.) Buffalo Sabres*- Tomas Hertl, LW
- Czech forward has great offensive instincts. Could be a dark horse to go top 15 in this draft.
27.) Pittsburgh Penguins- Stefan Matteau, LW
- Stephane Matteau's son begins his NHL career.
28.) St. Louis Blues- Nick Ebert, D
- Many publications have Ebert's stock dropping to the late second, or even third round, but he still has more talent than any other player available. Blues take a flier on the fast-falling Ebert.
29.) New York Rangers- Andreas Athanasiou, LW
- High risk, high reward type of forward. Superb offensive talent, but eerily reminiscent of Rob Schremp at time. Capable of great things offensively, but needs to find a way to be consistent.
30.) Vancouver Canucks- Hampus Lindholm, D
- Swedish defenseman has good size (6'2'', 190 lbs.), and might not be all too far away from the NHL.