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2012 NHL Draft Grades: Eastern Conference

Now that the 2012 NHL draft has come to a close, we grade the results for the Eastern Conference teams.


It's difficult to truly grade a draft until the players have been given a chance to step into the NHL, but there's nothing more fun than trying to put a letter grade on each team's performance.


Boston Bruins: While the choice of Malcom Subban must have caused some deep conflicts for Boston fans who have gotten used to hating his brother on the Montreal blue line, the young goaltender has a good chance of being a goalie of the future behind Tuukka Rask, and a reasonable choice at 24th overall. B+

Buffalo Sabres: It's a bit of a surprise that the Sabres took Mikhail Grigorenko, the Russian winger's draft stock seemed to drop farther than most scouts had anticipated. With the aggressive move to trade up and snag power forward Zemgus Girgensons, fans in Buffalo have some exciting young talent to boost their prospect system. A

Carolina Hurricanes: Though the Hurricanes did not actually draft in the first round after the trade for Jordan Staal, the acquisition of the versatile center provides a much needed boost up front, and likely sets them up to compete hard in the Southeast Division for the next several years. While it's arguable that the team may have slightly overpaid by attaching Brandon Sutter in the deal, this is a franchise shaping deal that came together rapidly on the draft floor. A

Florida Panthers: The Panthers seemed comfortable picking at 23rd overall, but despite players like Henrik Samuelsson and Brendan Gaunce being available, they made the decision to reach for Michael Matheson instead. Matheson could provide some offensive punch from the blue line, but most expected him to be a second or third round selection. D

Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens may have taken a bit of a gamble by selecting Alex Galchenyuk at third overall, but the general stance of most scouts is that his repaired knee will not hamper his NHL career. If the dynamic forward can live up to the promise of his rookie season in the OHL, he could be a star for years to come with the Bleu Blanc et Rouge. B

New Jersey Devils: Despite choosing to keep the 29th pick overall rather than forfeit and clear the last condition of their Ilya Kovalchuk contract penalty, the Devils and GM Lou Lamoreillo may have received an unexpected gift when Stefan Matteau dropped to them. On the other hand, they came out of this draft with no improvement in the Zach Parise situation and a glaring hole in their organization's goaltending depth despite several well regarded goalie prospects going to other teams on the second day of the draft. C

New York Islanders: Despite a slight reach on Griffin Reinhardt as the fourth overall pick, the move to acquire Lubomir Visnovsky from the Ducks provides an excellent player to help strengthen the team's blue line AND their quest to avoid the cap floor. A-

New York Rangers: The blueshirts have been tapping the NCAA for the core of their blue line over the last several years, and Brady Skjei could be a very complimentary player to Ryan McDonagh after he puts some polish on his game at the University of Minnesota. B+

Ottawa Senators: Grabbing hometown boy Cody Ceci during the mid-round rush on defense was a great move for PR purposes and practical impact. Ceci joins a pool of strong defensive prospects in Canada's capital, where he could get a chance to shine over the next 2-3 years. B

Pittsburgh Penguins: Was there a bigger winner at this draft than the host team? Opening a wide swath of cap space to help them pursue some of this summer's big name free agents thanks to his trades with Carolina and Phoenix, getting an excellent package for Jordan Staal, and adding some excellent defensive prospects in Olli Maata and Derrick Pouliot, there's a reason Ray Shero was walking around with a huge grin all weekend. A+

Philadelphia Flyers: The decision to go with Scott Laughton at 20th overall gives Philadelphia some good depth down the middle, and the addition of Anthony Stolarz is an excellent example of a calculated risk to see if the young goaltender's inconsistent play can be ironed out, or if his size is his only real asset. B

Tampa Bay Lightning: Making several deals this weekend to garner extra selections, Steve Yzerman took a couple of gambles with his first round selections. On the one hand, he addressed clear areas of need when he drafted d-man Slater Koekkoek and goaltender Andrei Vasilevski, but both picks come with question marks, particularly the fact that Vasilevski may or may not make the jump to North America. Give him full credit for making bold moves, but the jury is out on if they'll actually pay off. C+

Toronto Maple Leafs: With clear needs at forward, the Leafs made the decision to draft d-man Morgan Reilly out of the WHL fifth overall. That is somewhat counterbalanced by the second round selection of Matt Finn and the trade for James van Riemsdyk as the draft came to a close, but it remains an area of concern...not to mention the team's uncertain goaltending situation. B

Washington Capitals: Arguably landing the steal of the draft when Filip Forsberg dropped to them at 11th overall, Washington also made a good move to land Mike Ribiero to fill out their top six and added a gritty two way player with Thomas Wilson who seems like he could be a good fit for the "Dale Hunter" style of hockey. Shame that Hunter won't actually be back to coach the team. A

Winnipeg Jets: The addition of Jacob Trouba is a solid if uninspiring choice for an organization with so many depth issues, but one wonders why they passed on talented forwards like Forsberg and Grigorienko. Adding Lukas Sutter in the second round may help with their depth, but the head scratching move was the trade to acquire the rights to Jonas Gustavsson. Perhaps they see the "Monster" as part of a tandem with Ondrej Pavelec, but why not wait until he hits the free agent market if that was the case? If Gustavsson is intended to replace Pavelec should he bolt to the KHL, why not deal for the rights to a player with more starting experience like Scott Clemmensen? A confusing decision indeed. C-