Boston Bruins - B
Tim Thomas' surprising announcement that he would be taking a sabbatical next season has forced the Bruins to change up their off-season arrangements. Boston is planning to enter the 2012-13 campaign with Tuukka Rask as their starting goaltender and Anton Khudobin as their backup. They may very well have gone with a goaltender with the 24th overall pick, but the selection of Belleville Bulls netminder Malcolm Subban is likely a by-product of Thomas' decision; in addition to the desire to restock and fortify the organization between the pipes. The younger brother of Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban is probably a few years away from making any noise at the NHL level, but it was an savvy move by the Bruins to add depth in the crease after the club drafted a talented forward in Tyler Seguin during the first round of 2010 and they took a highly-touted defenseman in Dougie Hamilton in 2011.
Buffalo Sabres - B+
The Buffalo Sabres entered the 2012 draft with one thought in mind and that was to get bigger down the middle. The Sabres accomplished that directive with two picks in the first round: 6-foot-3, 200-pound center Mikhail Grigorenko and 6-foot-2, 198-pound pivot Zemgus Girgensons. Grigorenko saw his draft stock plummet as the big day drew closer, so the fact that the Sabres were able to grab him at 12th overall wasn’t surprising. He represents a calculated gamble that Buffalo could take because they had another pick to use at number 21, which they traded to Calgary along with a second rounder, to move up to take the rugged and gifted Latvian-born Girgensons with the 14th overall choice. The Sabres left the opening round with good value at a position they wanted to address: so they should be commended for their manoeuvring.
Carolina Hurricanes - B-
The Hurricanes didn't make their first selection in the 2012 draft until the second round, with the 38th overall pick, when they took University of Michigan freshman Phillip Di Giuseppe, because they made a big splash landing their third Staal brother with the acquisition of Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh. Carolina traded the eighth overall pick, center Brandon Sutter, and prospect blueliner Brian Dumoulin, in exchange for Staal. They paid a premium to get Staal but uniting him with brother Eric was too tantalizing a proposition to ignore. The Hurricanes kept a familial theme in the draft with their other second-round pick when they took Brock McGinn, the younger brother of Colorado's Jamie McGinn and Philadelphia prospect Tye McGinn, 47th overall.
Florida Panthers - C
The Panthers have one of the best collection of prospects in the entire league. Jonathan Huberdeau, Jacob Markstrom, Rocco Grimaldi and Nick Bjugstad would make any team green with envy. The 2011-12 season was a great success for Florida in the standings as they won the Southeast Division title and earned a playoff spot. As a result, the organization held the 23rd pick in the first round, which is a huge change from picking third in the previous two NHL Entry Drafts. The Cats chose to go with project rearguard Michael Matheson as their first rounder, despite the fact that a few defensemen still on the board were ranked ahead of him.
Montreal Canadiens - A
The Canadiens received a great haul of potentials at the 2012 draft, highlighted by the addition of Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk was one of the hotter commodities going into the 2012 draft, as his stock among scouts increased substantially despite an injury-marred year. The Sarnia Sting center was limited to two regular season games in 2011-12 because of an ACL tear, but his talent and compete level have been the best young players available in the draft. Montreal was able to select two other players in the second round who could have been first rounders. They snagged Swedish winger Sebastien Collberg at 33rd overall and obtained physical defender Dalton Thrower with the 51st selection, which should help the rebuilding process.
New Jersey Devils - C-
Surprisingly, New Jersey chose to keep their first-round pick in the 2012 draft even though they have to give one up as part of the penalty for Ilya Kovalchuk's rejected 17-year, $102 million contract. Due to their playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Devils owned the 29th pick. It would have been a good time to relinquish the selection. Instead, New Jersey picked Stefan Matteau there, the son of former NHLer Stephane Matteau. The younger Matteau projects to be a solid bottom-six forward, which further suggests the Devils probably were better off surrendering the pick.
New York Islanders - B
The Islanders shored up their back end for the future and the present on day one of the NHL Entry Draft. They acquired offensive defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky from Anaheim in exchange for a third-round pick in 2013. He should help New York's power play and take pressure away from captain Mark Streit. When the Isles stepped up to the podium for the fourth overall selection in the 2012 draft, they chose defenseman Griffin Reinhart. The son of former NHL blueliner Paul Reinhart is a great all-around rearguard, who should help New York in a year or two when he is ready to make the jump to the big show.
New York Rangers - B-
The New York Rangers had a league-low four picks in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. However, they did end up getting some good value with their first two selections even though the two of them are considered longer term projects. They took defenseman Brady Skjei 28th overall and forward Cristoval "Boo" Nieves 59th overall. The American skaters are committed to NCAA play next fall and they both of them have a great deal of potential.
Ottawa Senators - B
The Senators have constructed a great stable of prospects over the years. They have some excellent forwards in waiting, but very few defensemen in the pipeline. Granted they have an outstanding young star-in-the-making with Erik Karlsson, and Jared Cowen spent the entire 2011-12 campaign in Ottawa, but beyond them the prospect pool on the back end is fairly shallow. Enter 2012 15th overall pick and Ottawa-born defenseman Cody Ceci. Ceci broke out offensively last season and the Senators had plenty of time to watch him develop in their own backyard with the OHL's Ottawa 67's. He could compete for a roster spot next year, but it's likely he spends at least one more season in junior.
Philadelphia Flyers - C
Philadelphia benefited from the play of an outstanding rookie class in 2011-12. Several of their youngsters made a flawless transition to the NHL game; Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier didn't look at all out of place at the next level. Many draft pundits envisioned Plymouth's Tom Wilson as the perfect Flyer due to his truculent nature , but he went 16th overall to Washington. The Flyers went with a different rugged forward at number 20 when they chose Scott Laughton. He has the potential to be a solid two-way forward in the NHL, who is capable of playing of a physical game despite his present lack of size, but he will probably end up as a bottom-six center.
Pittsburgh Penguins - A+
The hosts of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft made the largest move in the first round when they broke into the top 10 following the dealing of Jordan Staal to Carolina. The Penguins selected defenseman Derrick Pouliot eighth overall with the Hurricanes' pick and were fortunate to have another highly-rated rearguard, Olli Maatta, fall into their laps at No. 22. Pittsburgh is banking on Simon Despres making the transition to full-time NHL duty next year, so the additions of Pouliot, Maatta and Brian Dumoulin, who was acquired in the Staal trade, will help replenish their prospect ranks on the blueline. The Pens will also welcome Brandon Sutter, the other piece in the Staal swap, into the fold in 2012-13. He should fit in nicely as the team's new third-line center.
Tampa Bay Lightning - B
The Tampa Bay Lightning probably reached a bit when they selected Slater Koekkoek 10th overall in the 2012 draft. A shoulder injury limited him to 26 games in 2011-12, but he hasn't displayed much offensively in his junior career. Tampa probably thought they could afford to take him in the top 10 because they had another pick in the first 20. With the 19th overall selection, the Bolts took Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski. The club acquired netminder Anders Lindback a week before the draft, so with Vasilevski in tow as well, Tampa Bay has added a great deal of depth to their crease for the future and the present.
Toronto Maple Leafs - B
The Leafs brought in a pair of defensemen with their first two picks in the 2012 draft despite having a healthy stable of young blueliners already, with Stuart Percy, Jesse Blacker and Jake Gardiner turning heads. With the fifth overall selection, Toronto could have drafted a forward but instead they went with the quick-thinking and smooth-skating Morgan Rielly. At No. 35 the Leafs chose Matthew Finn, who was projected to be a late first rounder. The addition of Rielly and Finn to the prospect pool likely helped the Maple Leafs' decision to trade former first-round pick Luke Schenn to Philadelphia in exchange for 2007 second overall choice James van Riemsdyk. The Leafs and Flyers both dealt from a position of strength to fill holes in their existing lineups, but Toronto landed a potentially superb scoring forward that is yet to hit his stride and should benefit from an increased role. And they brought on board another potential weapon from the blueline in Rielly.
Washington Capitals - A
The Capitals made 10 total selections in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, including two in the first round. Washington was ecstatic that the top rated European skater, Filip Forsberg, dropped to them when they were called to make the 11th overall pick. They were also pleased to draft the physically punishing Tom Wilson at No. 16. Wilson could make an impact with the organization as an energy player, perhaps as early as next season, while Forsberg is committed to playing in Sweden for at least one more year. Top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov's refusal to come over from Russia has been a definite blow to the organization, but the possibility of having Forsberg and Wilson in the lineup sooner rather than later should help alleviate some of the sting.
Winnipeg Jets - B
Winnipeg's second draft since getting their team back saw them take defenseman Jacob Trouba with the ninth overall pick. In 2011, the Jets selected talented scorer Mark Scheifele and although they said they would've preferred to take a forward, they have to be pleased with the prospect of adding another highly outed blueliner to their ranks. Trouba projects to be a successful player at both ends of the ice, which should prove beneficial to Winnipeg in the future. The Jets also made an interesting addition with the 39th overall pick when they drafted Lukas Sutter, who of course is a member of the great hockey house of Sutter. The son of Rich Sutter should be an intriguing player to keep tabs on as he develops.