2012 Mock NHL Draft: Picks 1-27
Allow me to start by saying that I likely have no business doing a mock draft. With that said, I thought it would be interesting (read: I am bored while trying to find a job) to make some wild guesses about where I think the 2012 eligibles will go in the first round of the entry draft. For today I will only do picks 1-27, as those are the ones that are set; I would rather not add more speculation to my speculation. In other words, I would rather not guess who is going to win the Eastern Conference Final and who will ultimately win the Stanley Cup (Go Kings!). I mostly used some of the mock drafts on the web to get a feel for where players were going, so there is a fair amount of guesswork outside of the #1 pick (obviously Nail Yakupov). I did, however, put a little more effort into the Sabres’ picks (12th and 21st). Assuming, of course, that they do not play around with those picks to try and move up in the draft.
My mock draft is based on the assumption that no teams make any moves to either trade up or trade down, or relinquish their pick altogether. More on this later. Also note that obvious statement is obvious.
I would not be at all surprised if Edmonton moves down in the draft. I would especially be unsurprised if they worked out a deal with Columbus for the #2 spot, as they are in desperate need of a defenseman. Also, the #1 spot should by all rights belong to Columbus. I also looked for a big-bodied American ranked high enough to be taken at 5th by Toronto, but I just could not find one. We all know how Brian Burke likes those big-bodied American players and how well they have worked out for him…
I struggled when it came to the Sabres first pick. The general thought is that you take the best available player, but that would likely have the Sabres taking another defenseman. Do the Sabres really need another defensemen in the system? Not really, but I would not be surprised if they do take Jacob Trouba if he is still available. I was torn between Trouba, Radek Faska, and Brendan Gaunce for this pick. Ultimately I thought it best to throw caution to the wind and draft for need. As we all know, the Sabres are relatively weak at the position of center, and it would make perfect sense to use the 12th pick to get one for the future.
I applied the same logic to their second pick and narrowed it down to Tomas Hertl and Stefan Matteau. I ultimately chose Hertl over Matteau due to scouting reports stating that Matteau needs to work on his discipline. My immediate reaction was to associate some of these reports with former prospect Zach Kassian. While it may not be entirely fair to compare the two, I saw more reports that seem to place Hertl as more of a passer, which is something the Sabres need in a center.
Obviously my wild guesses about who the Sabres will ultimately pick may prove to be pointless. I say this because I would not be surprised to see Darcy Regier use their two first round and two second round picks to try and move up in the draft. Ideally if they moved up I would like to see them avoid moving up to draft a Russian player like Nail Yakupov or Mikhail Grigorenko. While you may get a center with a high ceiling in Grigorenko or a fantastic winger in Yakupov, there is the very real threat of the KHL luring these guys back to Russia to play. I know some would argue that because they are playing in the CHL they are not likely to make a dash for the KHL, but I still believe that the risk is too great to ignore.
I will likely be watching the first round of the draft and laughing at myself for how wrong I was. Please feel free to laugh at me while you watch the draft as well, but not before. What are your thoughts on who the Sabres should draft?