Just one year ago, NHL GMs and Scouts were salivating at the thought of the 2012 draft class. It was originally thought to be one of the deepest in years and star talent (especially defencemen) were thought to be available well into the 20s on draft boards.
All that has now changed, and the draft is now being proclaimed as having high-end talent, but lacking in-depth and quality past the middle of the first round.
So what happened? Why have scouts soured on this draft class? In a word, injuries.
While we don’t have the stats to back this up, this has been the most injured draft class in modern history. The number of long-term injuries faced by the 17 and 18 year olds who will be eligible to be drafted in late June in Pittsburgh is astonishing. This has resulted in scouts getting less viewings of the players they would consider recommending and a lot of question marks come draft day.
How bad has it been?
Consensus number 1 pick Nail Yakupov recently suffered a concussion following a big (and dirty) hit by Owen Sound’s Mike Halmo. The hit earned Halmo a 10 game suspension, but its put Yakupov’s participation in the first round of the OHL playoffs in doubt. This comes following Yakupov’s lower body injury at the World Junior Championships that had him miss January games for Sarnia, and the CHL Top Prospects Game. He also missed games in November and December with a back injury.
Year long number 2 rated prospect Mikhail Grigorenko badly sprained his ankle at the World Juniors and missed several weeks of QMJHL play. He has also had his game, and high-end talent level openly questioned by scouts since returning from this injury. Even though it should be obvious to observers that the kid is playing at less than 100%. He left a recent game with an injured shoulder.
Alex Galchenyuk, the American born Centre, expected to challenge those two for the top spots was injured and lost almost the entire season when he had an ACL/MCL tear in his knee in preseason. He returned to action last week, but played only limited minutes over 4 periods before suffering an arm injury and missing the final game of the regular season. While he is expected to play in the playoffs, questions remain as to how far his draft stock has fallen by only playing 2 regular season games.
Ryan Murray long considered a top D in the draft, suffered a bad high ankle sprain and missed several weeks leading up to the World Junior Championships.
Morgan Rielly another top D, and a likely top 10 pick pre-injury, tore his ACL and his season ended in November.
Update: Rielly returned for the WHL Conference Finals.
Other top Prospects like Martin Frk (concussion), Slater Koekkoek (shoulder surgery), Jake McCabe (severed tendon in finger), Tanner Pearson (ankle – out for playoffs), Derrick Pouliot (Broken arm), Olli Maatta (concussion), Zemgus Girgensons (hip and jaw), Griffin Reinhart (knee), Colton Sissons (concussion), Tom Wilson (MCL and broken Knuckle), Codi Ceci, Malcolm Subban (ankle), Daniil Zharkov (broken collarbone), Jarrod Maidens (severe concussion), Charles Hudon, Dillon Fournier (Shoulder) , Radek Faksa (concussion), Brady Skjei, Matia Marcantuoni, Damon Severson (wrist), and Michael Matheson have all also missed long stretches and important games due to injuries this season.
It really has been an unbelievable run of bad luck for the 2012 draft class, and quality scouting will be of even bigger importance this year with so few chances to see many of the top prospects in action.
For now lets hope that the CHL playoffs, the USHL playoffs, the NCAA Frozen Four, and the World U-18 don’t claim even more draft class casualties between now and June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh.
Stay tuned because we plan to bring you some in-depth profiles of some top prospects as we get closer to the draft.
But for now…. that is the last word.