NHL Mock Draft – 1st Round (Part 1: Picks 1-14)

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Instead of our normal draft profiles today I begin the first round of my NHL mock draft.  Today I bring you picks 1-14, or the selections that belonged to teams that missed this year’s NHL playoffs.  Picks 15-30 can be found here: Mock Draft Part 2. Picks 31-48 can be found here: Mock Draft Part 3 and Picks 49 to 65 are here: Mock Draft Part 4

Some things to keep in mind:

– Our draft Rankings are arrived at jointly, while the mock draft is my work alone.  So if I go away from the rankings greatly that could be one reason why.

– The rankings are pure “Best Player Available”.  The mock draft takes into account team style of play, the prospects already in the team’s system, and prior draft trends, this is another reason why I haven’t followed the ranks exactly.

– I have assumed the New Jersey Devils will forfeit their first round pick this year as punishment for the Kovalchuk Circumvention ruling, (they must pick one year between 2011-2014 to forfeit a first rounder).  I am guessing this year is the year since they will be picking 29th or 30th.  As a result we have a complete finalized 2012 Draft Order.
Edit: The Devils have chosen to keep their pick – reported June 13, 2012.

– I am doing a mock draft with no trades (except those that have already been made).

– If you click the player’s name, you will get a link to their draft profile.

So without further ado, here we go… the 2012 Mock Draft.

1) Edmonton OilersNail Yakupov
The Oilers take the Best Player Available in this year’s draft.  Despite having young forwards like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent Hopkins, the Oilers pass up the temptation to draft for need, and take the dynamic Russian winger.  With Yakupov now onboard, the Oilers offence will terrorize NHL coaches, defenders, and goalies for years to come.

2) Columbus Blue Jackets – Ryan Murray
The Blue Jackets take Murray and continue to rebuild a defence that has been remodeled with the acquisitions of James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson in the last 12 months. Murray should grow to be an excellent complement to Johnson taking on the major defensive responsibilities in the pairing, while also providing puck-moving skills, and offence.

3) Montreal Canadiens – Alex Galchenyuk
The Habs have not had a big, dynamic, offensive centre since the days of Vincent Damphousse, and before him, Bobby Smith.  Galchenyuk with his two-way play, great skating, work as a gym rat, excellent wrist shot/release, and good family bloodlines, is the prototypical forward pick of Habs director of scouting Trevor Timmins.

4) New York Islanders – Mathew Dumba
The Islanders are an extremely difficult organization to predict.  However they go for the dynamic, right handed shooting defenceman Matt Dumba.  With young Forwards like Tavares, Strome, Neiderreiter, Nelson, Bailey, and Grabner all on the team or in the system, the Isles will choose a defender here.

5) Toronto Maple Leafs – Filip Forsberg
Brian Burke and the Leafs were desperately hoping that Galchenyuk would fall to them, but he didn’t.  The Leafs have a well-trusted scout in Thommie Bergman in Sweden, and he recommends the drafting of Forsberg.  Burke liking the developping physical game agrees, and pulls the trigger on the young Swede.

6) Anaheim Ducks – Mikhail Grigorenko
After reaping the big benefit of Cam Fowler falling on draft boards in 2010, the Ducks are thrilled to see the same happen this year to Russian Centre Mikhail GrigorenkoGrigorenko’s poor finish this season, and disappointing playoffs have scared off some scouts, but the Ducks believe that with reports of mono, and a bad ankle he’s worth the risk, and are pleased to take him.

7) Minnesota Wild – Morgan Rielly
With Michael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, and Zach Phillips headlining an incredibly deep group of forward prospects in the Wild system, the team is thrilled to see only 2 defencemen taken in the first 6 picks.  They choose the offensive minded, smooth skating Rielly who fills a need for the Wild and also happens to be the best player available at 7.

8.) Carolina Hurricanes – Teuvo Teravainen
Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford went against his instincts in 2011 when he took defenceman Ryan Murphy in the first round.  Rutherford has long said he doesn’t like taking defencemen too early in a draft, unless they are too good to pass up.  Last year the falling Murphy qualified, this year he goes back to his normal strategy and takes a forward.  The incredibly skilled Teravainen has been a huge riser on draft boards and he cracks the top 10.

9) Winnipeg Jets – Jacob Trouba
The Jets have a good, and relatively young defence core and have a continuing need to add more offence. That said they quite simply can’t pass up a defenceman here. Trouba is the clear Best player available, and as such the Jets take him at 9th overall.

10) Tampa Bay Lightning – Griffin Reinhart
The Lightning are up with the first of their two first round picks.  They tab Griffin Reinhart, the huge defenceman who starred for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL playoffs and Memorial Cup.  With young forwards like Steven Stamkos, Brett Connolly, Nikita Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov on the team and in the system, Yzerman is thrilled to see the Best player available is a defenceman.

11) Washington Capitals (from Colorado)Radek Faksa
GM George McPhee loves big 2-way centres, and Faksa fits the bill here.  The young Czech centre had an impressive rookie season for the Kitchener Rangers, and the Capitals use their first of two picks in this round to try to find a future 2nd line centre to play behind Nick Backstrom.

12) Buffalo SabresSebastian Collberg
The Sabres are the third team in a row who are making their first of two picks in the first round.  As a result they have the luxury of taking the best player available.  The Sabres are thrilled to see talented Swedish winger Sebastian Collberg on the board, and hope they’ve found a future first line winger here.

13) Dallas StarsOlli Maatta
The young Finnish blue liner was especially impressive in the OHL playoffs for the London Knights, and probably raised his draft stock since when we profiled him. The Stars have a big need for high quality defence prospects, and have done well with Finns before, so they roll the dice on Olli Maatta.

14) Calgary FlamesBrendan Gaunce
The Flames seemingly never ending search for a top line centre continues.  They tab Brendan Gaunce as their latest attempt to find one.  It may be too late to say Gaunce will be the centre for Jarome Iginla, but with Sven Baertschi looking like a prime sniper, the need to find a pivot for him will still be there.  Unfortunately for the Flames, the centres available at 14, are probably gonna top out as second line guys.

And that brings us to the end of part 1 of the mock draft.

You can find the next installments here Mock Draft Part 2 (Picks 15-30) and here: Mock Draft Part 3 (Picks 31-48) and here: Mock Draft Part 4 (Picks 49-65)

Feel free to leave your own comments below and follow me on Twitter @LastWordBKerr.

For a listing of NHL Mock drafts around the internet, please check out our friends at the NHL mock database.

… thats the Last Word.