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With the 24th pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Boston Bruins delegation at Stanley Cup of Chowderselects Dalton Thrower, a defenseman from the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League.
Thrower models his own game after his favorite player, Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks, and Bruins fans would do well to look past the fact that he has poor taste in hockey clubs. There's a good article on his career so far posted on canada.com today which states that scouting reports have him ranked anywhere from 20th to 47th. He put up 18-36=54 totals for the Blades this year; due to injuries on that roster, he often played close to 30 minutes per game on the team's #1 defense pairing with Colorado draft pick Duncan Siemens.
He stands out for most scouts thanks to one key element of his overall skill set: he's a fantastic skater, capable of playing a major role in the transition game, similar to Brian Campbell, though a full comparison is unfair at this point in his career. He was routinely involved in the transition game for Rögle BK, and posted some solid numbers during his time in the WJC's, putting up four points in six games.
In addition to the wheels he possesses, he's got some serious stamina to go with it. Lindholm destroyed the competition during the VO2 max test at the NHL Draft Combine, showing his physical condition was (and should remain) in peak form going into the draft.
It is yet another defenseman to be drafted high by the Pens, but compared to the players still available at 22nd in this mock draft, we weren't too excited about taking a forward that projects to be a 3rd line NHL player. In our opinion, better to keep stocking up on defensemen who can skate well, move the puck well and have the potential to be top 4 NHL defensemen.
Koekkoek seems a little riskier than your average prospect, but for who's left, he seemingly also has a higher potential ceiliing to be able to reach. Koekkoek missed a lot of time to shoulder injury this season, and that could be a bother for potential to re-occur or waste development time.
With the 21st pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Buffalo Sabres delegation at Die By The Blade selects Stefan Matteau, a center from the US National Team Development Program in the United States Hockey League.
If you're thinking to yourself, "I've heard that name before," you're right; Matteau is the son of Stephane Matteau, and carries some similar qualities. He finished the year as Central Scouting's 17th-ranked North American skater. He's a gritty player who wins puck battles and is disruptive when allowed to camp in front of the net. He has a strong shot from in close, but isn't known for his ability to set up teammates.
He's not without risk, however, as his discipline has been in question from time to time. He's been suspended multiple times for going over the edge, and he plays with that tenacity that can reward you just as well as it can punish you. In the right system, that "edge" can probably be molded into a leadership asset.
With the 20th pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Philadelphia Flyers delegation from Broad Street Hockey selects Brendan Gaunce, a center from the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League.
Photo courtesy of the OHL.
Unless the Flyers are in a top-10 spot in this draft -- meaning they're getting a player who can contribute sooner than later -- selecting a player based on current organizational need isn't the way to go.
We could have taken Slater Koekkoek or Ville Pokka with this pick (and trust us, we almost did based on name alone), but each of those players have their own risks attached. We believed Gaunce was the best player available on the board, and he was ranked 13th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
With the 19th pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Tampa Bay Lightning delegation at Raw Charge selects Derrick Pouliot, a defenseman from the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League.
Photo Credit: Bryan Heim/Portland Winter Hawks
Raw Charge explains their philosophy behind picking a defenseman, not a forward, at this stage of the draft:
There was debate over this pick. There was the want/need of a goalie prospect at the time we made the selection - Andrei Vasilievski or Malcolm Subban were ripe for the taking on the draft board. Yet, as of this writing - they aren't so much a need with the additions this week of Riku Helenius and Anders Lindback to the Tampa Bay Lightning system. Are the Lightning done developing goalies? Absolutely not, even if there is faith in Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus to become NHL netminders, there will be a goaltender selected in this draft. Just not in the 1st round.
With young forwards like Cory Conacher, Tyler Johnson, J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, Alex Killorn, Vadislav Namestnikov and others peppered throughout the system, our assessment is that this high pick shouldn't be spent on another forward. That's why we passed up Brendan Gaunce, Scott Laughton, Stefan Matteau and other forwards on the board.
Terry Wilson/OHL Images/CHL Images
Columbus Blue Jackets blog The Cannon profiled Finn back in May:
After a confidence filled sophomore season with the Guelph Storm, Matt Finn looks to be a lock as a first round draft pick next month.
Finn's motivation for his breakout season came from something that didn't happen. Looking forward to the Ivan Hlinka tourney, Finn was told "thanks, but no thanks". With one of the marquee events that every junior wants to have on his resume, Finn re-dedicated himself to all facets of his game.
We would have preferred to pick either of the two Swedish wingers Sebastian Collberg or Pontus Aberg but seeing as the Senators and Capitals selected the 'bergs with the picks right before this one (the bastards), we'll feign excitement about adding Hertl to the organization. In all seriousness, Hertl is a terrific young center with size and a scoring touch who tallied 25 points in 38 games playing against men in the Czech Republic's top league during the 11-12 season.
Japers' Rink explained the pick of Aberg, one of the top-ranked European skaters in the draft and the ninth ranked skater in the entire draft according to NHL Central Scouting. A small player, Aberg isn't overly physical but has a ton of skill, a heavy shot and dangerous speed.
Not knowing what the Caps' vision for the future is in terms of style of play, picking a conscientious, speedy forward who likes to shoot doesn't seem like a bad idea at all. And heck, you can never have too many Swedes...
He's offensively talented, great shot, and he can skate. He plays with hardwork and isn't afraid to play physical. So what is the problem?
In 41 games in the SEL, he has zero points. To be fair, he isn't very much because pro teams in Sweden prefer to use their more veteran players, but still, its concerning. In addition, it is quite clear, Collberg needs more muscle and strength to compete because often times he gets overpowered.
Next on the clock with the No. 16 pick are the Washington Capitals, making their second pick of the first round.
Blue Jackets blog The Cannon profiled Maatta back in May.
Olli's adaptation to the smaller North American rinks has been another positive in what has been a fine season thus far. His consistency as a puck moving defender, something always desirable for the Jackets, can be documented reasonably well over the past few seasons as his assists to goals ratio hovers around 3:1. Currently, the 17 year old at 6'2" and just over 200 pounds, asserts that he will continue to develop physically and claims any added mass won't affect his skating. He draws on fellow countrymen Teppo Numminen and Kimmo Timonen as inspiration, if not outright role models.
Next on the clock are the Ottawa Senators via our friends Silver Seven.
As I wrote in our draft profile of Rielly, and as many of you said in our poll thread related to this very situation, you don't always have the chance to draft a player like Rielly in the middle of the first round. While there are some questions regarding the health of his knee after tearing his ACL last season, Rielly is perhaps the most offensively gifted defenseman in the draft and is certainly the type of player on the blue line the Stars have desperately been searching for ever since Sergei Zubov's career in Dallas started to end.
Credit: Flickr user Tabercil
At 19, Ceci blossomed on a good final season with 67's. The 17 goals and 60 points were both career highs in his three years in Ottawa. The next best season that Ceci had was last year with 9 goals and 34 points. His point total might be slightly inflated with Tyler Toffoli scoring 100 points and Shane Prince scoring 90 points as well.
Having the Sabres select a defenseman at 12 seems somewhat ridiculous considering the depth that the team has at the current position. The major problem though was that all of the good centers that could be considered Top 10 were already taken off the board by the time we were ready to pick at 12. It also didn't make much sense to reach for a player that could be available again with the 21st overall pick.
Next on the clock are the Dallas Stars via our delegation at Defending Big D.
With the 11th pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Washington Capitals delegation at Japers' Rink selects Zemgus Girgensons, a center from the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League.
Photo Credit: Dubuque Fighting Saints
Girgensons isn't the sexiest pick ever, but he's got good size and appears to have a good mix of skill and grit, offensive ability and defensive responsibility, and, of course, plays a position of need. The Caps haven't been afraid to draft out of the USHL in recent years (though with just one big win and limited success overall); if this was our pick, we might look to that League again and at Zemgus Girgensons.
With the tenth pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Tampa Bay Lightning delegation at Raw Charge select Griffin Reinhart, a defenseman from the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League.
Credit: Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings
Reinhart has the pedigree of an NHL'er, as his father Paul played for the Vancouver Canucks and Flames organization (drafted by the Flames when they were still in Atlanta). His brothers, Max and Sam, also play hockey currently in the WHL, with Max having been drafted in 2010 by the Flames and Sam being WHL rookie of the year this season (and draft eligible in 2014).
Faksa is in the middle. (Getty Images)
What I love about this guy's last three years is that he's been a scorer everywhere, he's been a grinder everywhere, and he even popped up on an HFBoards discussions post of 2012 prospects in 2009 (from a Czech commenter) alongside Tomas Hertl and Martin Frk. So you know he's been on the radar for awhile and hasn't really gone away. That's about as close to consistent testimony for a prospect as you're going to get.
Photo Credit: Matti Korpi/Jokerit
The Finn has excelled playing for the Jokerit U16, U18, and U20 brackets and is rated the second best European skater in the draft by the ISS. He also spent some time playing for Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League and had 18 points in 40 games while playing against older competition.
He is a bit smallish, listed at 5'10" or 11", but has that ever stopped Carolina before? He certainly will not have any trouble feeling comfortable in the dressing room as the Hurricanes already have three players from Finland on the roster.
With the seventh pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Minnesota Wild delegation at Hockey Wilderness selects Jacob Trouba, a defenseman from the US National Team Development Program in the United States Hockey League.
Trouba wore No. 8 for Team USA. (Getty Images)
For our Wild bloggers, the pick was simple. Trouba was the best available player and he fills a very specific need as a great defensive prospect.
[We have] him as the second best defensemen in the draft behind Ryan Murray, so the Wild getting Trouba at seven could be seen by some as a bit of a steal. Of course, with the level of talent on the blue line in this year's draft, it almost feels like it is tough to go wrong.
In a May profile of Trouba, Hockey Wilderness wrote that he has "all the tools to become an elite defenseman" in the NHL. Defensive prospects take longer to develop than forward prospects (generally speaking), but there's no reason Trouba shouldn't grow into a fine NHL player.
Photo Credit: Dave Brunner Photography
Of course, the folks at Battle of California have their unique reasons for picking Dumba. Mostly, he has an awesome name.
Not blessed with outstanding size or agility, Dumbo has an impressive wingspan nevertheless, and he isn't afraid to get his nose dirty every once in a while. No real hands to speak of, but given a little confidence, he can positively fly down the ice. And while his agent is a real rodent, the upside to this prospect is that he will pretty much play for peanuts.
The Minnesota Wild are on the clock as we move on to the No. 7 pick on Wednesday.
With the fifth overall pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Toronto Maple Leafs delegation at Pension Plan Puppets selects Ryan Murray, a defenseman from the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.
via Getty Images
He's the top rated draft eligible player from the WHL which is good. The Cannon had a good profile of Ryan Murray as well. This is a pick that might not take as long to develop since he is referred to as the most NHL-ready but after the Leafs' experience with Schenn and Burke's comments about how he would have kept him in Kelowna I'd expect that this pick (and likely any the Leafs make) is not made with an eye towards immediate help.
Courtesy: Ontario Hockey League
Galchenyuk's a forward, and for the Islanders, this pick was a decision between an offensive player and a defensive player in Ryan Murray. Defensemen are harder to predict as they take much longer to develop than forwards, generally speaking, and that's a major reason why Lighthouse Hockey went with Galchenyuk.
At #4, it's not about filling a need -- not even a long-term talent depth need. It's about grabbing the player you think has the best chance of being a very good difference-maker. You can adjust depth disparities later; it's always easier to do that when you have the highest-quality assets possible.
Murray is a favorite among many readers here, and the other promising defensemen like Matthew Dumba, Jacob Trouba and Morgan Rielly have drawn attention. But for my money, if Galchenyuk is left on the board at #4, it's an easy decision.
With the third overall pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Montreal Canadiens delegation at Habs Eyes On The Prize selects Mikhail Grigorenko, a center form the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
via Getty Images
Despite concerns that have lowered Grigorenko's draft stock, Habs Eyes On The Prize decided he's worth the risk anyway.
Grigorenko's stock took a drop in the rankings when the Remparts were eliminated by the Halifax Mooseheads. He managed just a pair of points in the last four games, but that has been attributed to the fact he was not 100% (suffering from a bout of mono), which also forced him out of the workouts at the 2012 NHL Combine.
Grigorenko has also been cited at times as lazy, unwilling to do the dirty work in the corners defensively and playing when he wants. But given he was willing to play under the weather in the playoffs, and with a bad ankle at the World Junior Championships, you have to think he is a competitor.
(right) via Getty Images
The Cannon profiled Forsberg's game earlier this month, discussing his strengths:
The combination of skating speed and puck control in tight spots are among Forsberg's strengths. When you realize that he's performing so well at age 17 is really where you start to take notice of his game. Also not to be overlooked is his effective play on the backcheck. Thoughts of Ryan Callahan come to mind when Forsberg freely blocks shots and is persistent in a forechecking role, trying to induce opponents to cough up the biscuit.
Next on the clock: The Montreal Canadiens. Making their pick will be our bloggers from Habs Eyes On The Prize.
With the No. 1 pick in our SB Nation 2012 NHL Mock Draft, our Edmonton Oilers delegation at The Copper & Blue have selected Nail Yakupov, a right wing from the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.
via Getty Images
Yakupov is the No. 1-ranked skater according to NHL Central Scouting and he's the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. For more on why the Oilers selected Yakupov, check in with The Copper & Blue.
Next on the clock: Our Columbus Blue Jackets bloggers at The Cannon have their selection for the No. 2 overall pick.
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