2012 NHL Entry Draft: 1st Round Picks & Profiles

Draft prospect profiles have been provided by Buzzing The Net blogger Neate Sager.



The Pick: Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Details: Yakupov is an outstanding attacker with tremendous first-step quickness that he can use to blow past defenders and he also has a terrific shot. He was averaging nearly two points per game before he sustained a back injury in December, which put him ahead of the scoring pace of Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall, John Tavares and Steven Stamkos during their respective draft seasons in the OHL. The back injury and a knee ailment incurred in the 2012 World Junior gold-medal game and took some of the shine off of his star this season, but he’s an elite offensive talent who, when healthy, will mix it up physically. Yakupov, who turns 19 on Oct. 6, should be ready for the NHL next season.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Yakupov

Puck Daddy profile: Nail Yakupov FAQs

The Pick: Ryan Murray, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Details: The epitome of the junior who seems to 18 going on 30, since he’s a very smooth skater who makes good choices with the puck. Murray was captain of Everett for most of the past two seasons and Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe took him overseas with Team Canada for the world championship in May. The only rap on Murray, who’s drawn comparisons with Scott Niedermayer, is that he doesn’t have a raging mean streak. He’s always been so advanced that he hasn’t needed it until now. There is a school of thought that Murray might not be a No. 1 defenseman at the NHL level, but it’s safe to assume he’ll be on someone’s top pairing.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Murray

Puck Daddy profile: Ryan Murray FAQs

The Pick: Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Details: Galchenyuk has world-class vision, a well-developed ability to fight through defensive coverage to get to the net and has “No. 1 center” written all over him. A torn ACL limited him to eight games this season, but when he came back he skated well and asserted himself physically like he’d never been away. That showed he’s a bona fide two-way player. The Milwaukee native, who was the No. 1 selection in the OHL draft in 2010, has an engaging personality and could be a home-run pick for the team that doesn’t get hung up on his lost season.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Galchenyuk

Puck Daddy profile: Alex Galchenyuk ready for NHL

The Pick: Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Details: The son of long-time NHL defender Paul Reinhart is big (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) and versatile. He played in all situations for the WHL-champion Oil Kings, manning the point on Edmonton’s power play and killing penalties. Reinhart has also upgraded his skating enough so it isn’t a red flag about his suitability for the NHL. Reinhart is an intelligent player and one can see him being on track to turn pro at age 19, much like two other towering defensemen taken high out of the Canadian junior ranks, Erik Gudbranson (No. 3 in 2010) and Dougie Hamilton (No. 9 in 2011). Griffin’s brother, Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart, is already being hyped as a top pick for 2014.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Reinhart

The Pick: Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Details: Rielly has speed, skill and hockey sense that could not be diminished by the ACL surgery which caused him to miss about three-quarters of the season in Moose Jaw. The Vancouver native is a fluid skater who can jump into rushes and he’s astute enough with the puck that the Warriors had him quarterbacking their power play when he was a 16-year-old rookie. Reilly’s ascension to the big leagues is really only a question of how fast he can bulk up his 6-foot frame.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Rielly

The Pick: Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle (Sweden)

Details: At 6-foot-2 and 196 pounds, Lindholm is a big offensive defenseman who needs time to upgrade his footwork and his tenacity in the defensive zone. He helped Rogle win promotion to the Elitserien this season.

The Pick: Mathew Dumba, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Details: Dumba is like an unbridled colt, prone to taking a lot of risks and perhaps running around in his own zone, but it’s a NHL organization’s job to take him from raw to refined. Dumba’s not as polished as the other high-end defenders in the draft, but he’s a wonderful skater and can swing the momentum of games with a big open-ice hit. Young players tend to resist being labelled offensive defensemen, but he’s very capable of jumping into rushes and getting shots through from the point.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Dumba

The Pick: Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Details: One of the best puck-moving defenseman in the draft, bar none, Pouliot had 59 points in 72 games for Portland. He’s admitted he needs to play more physically.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Pouliot

The Pick: Jacob Trouba, U.S. U-18 team (USHL)

Details: The 6-foot-2, 193-pound Trouba is a shutdown defenseman in all facets – able to lay the open-ice hit, hold the blue line, hem in forwards along the boards and read plays. Trouba skates well for a big man, although his lateral mobility can be improved. He’s headed to the University of Michigan in his home state and will likely be a leader on Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Trouba

The Pick: Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Details: Koekkoek came up just short of making a full recovery from shoulder surgery in time for the world under-18 championship. He’s a superb 1-on-1 defender whether he’s taking on a finesse guy or a power forward and he’s smart in all three zones.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Koekkoek

The Pick: Filip Forsberg, RW, Leksands (Sweden)

Details: Forsberg is a legitimate goal-scorer who has exceptional acceleration for a young player who’s 6-foot-2, which dispels fears he’s the type of big guy with good hands who peaks in junior. He probably needs further seasoning, possibly at home in Sweden, but he is an all-around package with size, skill and smarts. Forsberg ended up being a fringe player for Sweden by the end of its run to the gold medal at the 2012 World Junior, but the fact he was on the team at age 17 says a ton about his character.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Forsberg

Puck Daddy profile: Filip Forsberg FAQs

The Pick: Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

Details: Grigorenko, 18, is a playmaker who does wondrous things once he gets the puck, but there is concern about how dogged he is (or is not) about getting the puck. The Russian forward is a superb stickhandler, can find open teammates and also has a NHL-caliber shot. There was some thought he might hurdle Yakupov to become the favorite to go No. 1, but questions about his skating and work ethic hurt his stock. Still, this is someone who tallied 40 goals and 85 points in 59 QMJHL games despite being slowed by an ankle injury and mononucleosis.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Grigorenko

Puck Daddy profile: Mikhail Grigorenko FAQs

The Pick: Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Details: His draft stock peaked at midseason, but Faksa is a 6-foot-2, 203-pound workhorse who never takes a shift or any situation on the ice for granted. His background on the big European ice has endowed him with good skating ability and he can bounce opponents around the boards when he’s on his game. He’s not a gifted scorer by any means, but he’s not afraid to toil in the high-traffic areas. He helped a young Rangers team reach the OHL conference final.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Faksa

The Pick: Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

Details: A center with a high motor who loves throwing the big check to get his team going, but that has led to questions about durability. Girgensons, whose offensive upside is underrated, is committed to Hockey East’s Vermont Catamounts.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Girgensons

The Pick: Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Details: A solidly built, mobile defenseman who’s effective at both ends of the ice, able to separate forwards from the puck and also find creative ways to set up his teammates. He regularly clocked 35- to 40-minute nights while helping the 67’s reach the third round of the OHL playoffs for the first time in seven years. Ceci already has an NHL body at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, so people seeing him for the first time might expect him to make the jump next year. He’ll need time, but he won’t be a bust either.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Ceci

The Pick: Tom Wilson, RW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

Details: He plays like a 1990s-vintage power forward when he’s on, which makes the 6-foot-3, 203-pounder a safe pick. Wilson has a good skating stride for a big man and could be a top-six forward in the NHL if he becomes more consistent.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Wilson

The Pick: Tomas Hertl, C, Slavia (Czech Republic)

Details: A big guy with a laser shot who just needs a skating tutor. The best-case scenario with Hertl is to bring him to major junior next season and wait 3-4 years to see if he blossoms.

The Pick: Teuvo Teravainen, C, Jokerit (Finland)

Details: There is no denying the vision and creativity of Teravainen, a Patrick Kane-esque playmaker whom HockeyProspect.com described as having “a ridiculous amount of skill” in its draft guide. His ability to find open teammates and knifing between bigger players to get to the dirty areas is somewhat evocative of Connor McDavid, the 15-year-old center who was granted early entry into the OHL with the Erie Otters. Teravainen does not turn 18 until Sept. 11, so he’s one of the youngest high-end talents in the draft.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Teravainen

Puck Daddy profile: Teuvo Teravainen FAQs

The Pick: Andrei Vasilevski, G, Ufa-2 (Russia)

Details: The son of a goalie and hands-down the most impressive young ’tender in this draft, complementing good net coverage (he’s 6-foot-3) with top-notch reflexes and technique. He was Russia’s starter for much of the world junior before they switched to the Saskatoon Blades’ Andrey Makarov midway through the third period of the semifinal vs. Canada.

The Pick: Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Details: Competitive two-way pivot has shutdown capabilities and compares favorably with former Flyers star Mike Richards. Projects as a No. 2/3 in the NHL.

The Pick: Mark Jankowski, C, Stanstead College (Quebec high school)
Details: The Flames went off the board, selecting the lanky 6-foot-3, 170-pounder who lit it up at the Quebec high school level. He's a long-term project with a lot of work to do - and a lot of bulk to add - but his upside is as a No. 1 offensive center who piles up points.

The Pick: Olli Maatta, D, London Knights (OHL)

Details: Gifted in his understanding of the game, which is why Finland took him to the past two WJCs as an underage player. He does everything well, but is an average skater; his hunched-over stride moved one NHL scout to liken him to a “praying mantis.”

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Maatta

The Pick: Michael Matheson, D, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

Details: This was a bit of a surprise, and Matheson will need time to round into NHL-caliber form. If he pans out, he has second-pairing potential with an offensive dimension to his game. Plenty to work on, but plenty of potential, too.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Matheson

The Pick: Malcolm Subban, G, Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Details: His reflexes and lateral quickness allow Subban to cover the net like a 6-foot-5 goaltender even though he’s only 6-foot-1. Fears of a recurring groin problem might have made some teams wary, but there’s no ignoring his athleticism and his toughness in 1-on-1 battles.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Subban

Puck Daddy profile: Not just P.K.’s little brother anymore

The Pick: Jordan Schmaltz, D, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Details: Another pick who jumped up the draft charts, Schmaltz is big, physical and plays a two-way game. He won't be on the Blues next year, but when he makes it to the NHL it might be as a well-rounder defender who can play in almost any situation.

The Pick: Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Details: A very polished 6-foot-2, 215-pound two-way center. Think Jordan Staal, only with more playmaking and less goal-scoring. Gaunce is a force on the forecheck and plays an intelligent game.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Gaunce

The Pick: Henrik Samuelsson, RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Details: The son of feared NHL defenseman Ulf, Samuelsson can play center as well as the wing. Like his dad, he plays a hard-nosed game and could make his mark as a second-line power forward.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Samuelsson

The Pick: Brady Skjei, D, U.S. U-18 team (USHL)

Details: Plays a very complete game and is an excellent skater with good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. Skjei is planning to hone his skills in his home state with the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Buzzing The Net: 5 Questions With Skjei

The Pick: Stefan Matteau, LW, U.S. U-18 team (USHL)

Details: A good defensive forward, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Matteau loves to muck it up, as evidenced by his 166 PIMs in just 46 games. He’s headed to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL), where presumably he’ll work on his agility.

The Pick: Tanner Pearson, LW, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Details: A first-round pick, finally, in his third year of draft eligibility. Hard-working, versatile and enough skill to make it as a second-liner.