Ryan Dadoun

In The Crease

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West Conference Draft Review

Monday, June 25, 2012


The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is in the books and while it will be years before we can truly declare the winners or losers of this draft, we can take a look at what each team got over the weekend and what it could lead to.  

The grades are meant to be an indication of how well the team drafted in relation to the player’s presumed value, the prospects’ potential and what it could mean for their new franchise, and of course the trades each team made that had a direct impact on this draft.  The emphasis was heavily put on the earlier rounds.  

Here’s a rundown of the Western Conference teams:  

Anaheim Ducks – B  

The Ducks are likely to lose one of their top defensive prospects, Justin Schultz, to the free agent market, and they also traded away Lubomir Visnovsky for a second round selection in 2013, so it’s not a surprise that they took a defenseman with the sixth overall pick.  What is a little startling is that the Ducks decided to go with Hampus Lindholm, although his puck-moving potential certainly makes him an intriguing prospect.  With the 36th overall pick the Ducks decided to take Nicholas Kerdiles, who spent most of his childhood in Southern California.  He’s a bit of a project, but he could turn into a nice two-way forward and a hometown favorite.  

Calgary Flames – B+  

You have to give the Flames credit for going into this draft knowing exactly what they wanted. They had the 14th pick in the draft, but traded it away for the 21st and 42nd picks.  That’s because they were after Mark Jankowski and even with the 21st pick, he was a huge stretch.  The Flames see him as the guy everyone else overlooked and maybe time will prove them right.  With the other pick they got in the trade, they took Patrick Sieloff, who might eventually establish himself with the Calgary Flames as a defensive defenseman.  All in all, the Flames were bold, but it’s hard to fault them for taking a guy they feel passionately about.  The team also deserves credit for having the foresight to trade down so they could get a second rounder.  

Chicago Blackhawks – A-  

Eight of the first 10 picks in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft were defensemen, which is the main reason Teuvo Teravainen was still available when it was the Chicago Blackhawks’ turn to pick.  Teravainen might prove a bit of a steal given his position as the 18th guy taken, so Chicago should be pleased with how things turned out.  After that they went off the board by selecting Dillon Fournier with the 48th overall pick.  It will be a while before we know if Fournier was worth a second round pick. He’s considered to be something of a long-term project.  

Colorado Avalanche – C+  

The Avalanche lost the 11th overall pick as part of the trade that got them Semyon Varlamov.  That might sound like a raw deal, but it’s too early to call the Avalanche the losers of that trade.  After a shaky start to the 2011-12 season, Varlamov bounced back in a big way after the All-Star break.  He could have a long and stellar career in the NHL as a starting goaltender, so it’s entirely possible he’ll prove to be worth the price Colorado paid. The Avalanche ended up picking five players from the Canadian Hockey League, most notably two-way center Mitchell Heard with the 41st overall pick.  

Columbus Blue Jackets – A+  

The Blue Jackets had the second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and they spent it well by taking Ryan Murray. He was widely regarded as a potential contender to be taken first overall, although it wasn’t a surprise when Nail Yakupov ended up getting that honor. With their second pick and 31st overall, Columbus claimed goaltender Oscar Dansk. Steve Mason has been struggling for years now and the recent acquisition of netminder Sergei Bobrovsky might not solve their problem between the pipes, so it made a lot of sense for them to take a goaltender early. All in all, it was a great night for Columbus.  

Dallas Stars – A-  

The Stars used the 13th overall pick on Radek Faksa, who is a center with size and a ton of upside. However, their biggest move of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was their decision to trade Mike Ribeiro to the Washington Capitals in exchange for 21-year-old center Cody Eakin and the 54th overall pick. Eakin has some offensive upside and with the pick they took another center in Mike Winther. Given Ribeiro was a threat to leave as a free agent following the 2012-13 season, this wasn’t a bad deal for them.  

Detroit Red Wings – B+  

Like Colorado, the Detroit Red Wings traded away their first round pick, but understandably so. They got Kyle Quincey in return and while he didn’t live up to expectations during the 2012-13 campaign, they still control his rights as a restricted free agent. With Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart gone, Detroit certainly needs Quincey right now. Detroit took Martin Frk in the second round, who dealt with a concussion and is a long-term project, but could end up being one of the steals of the draft.  

Edmonton Oilers – A+  

Once again the Edmonton Oilers had the first overall pick and once again they surprised no one with their choice. That’s not a bad thing though, as Nail Yakupov should blossom into another great offensive-minded forward for them. With Yakupov, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers have a core that should scare the competition. After getting Yakupov, the Oilers focused on adding size to complement their skilled forwards. They took two big forwards, Mitchell Moroz and Daniil Zhakov, in the second and third rounds respectively.  

Los Angeles Kings – B  

After winning the Stanley Cup, the Los Angeles Kings aren’t in any need of immediate help, so why not roll the dice on a project? Tanner Pearson went undrafted in 2010 and 2011, but he made a name for himself in 2011-12 by scoring 37 goals and 91 points in 60 OHL games.  He’s still got some work to do, but the late bloomer is worth keeping an eye on. After drafting Pearson, the Kings didn’t draft until the end of the fourth round when they took Nikolay Prokhorkin, who might eventually develop into a bottom-six forward.  

Minnesota Wild – B-  

The Minnesota Wild got a potential power-play specialist who isn’t afraid to throw his body around when they took Matthew Dumba with the seventh overall pick. He was an appropriate selection at that point of the draft. What was something of a surprise was their decision to grab Raphael Bussieres with the 46th overall pick.  There are some questions about his competitiveness and skating, so the Wild might have reached a bit by taking him that early.  

Nashville Predators – C-  

The Predators traded their first round pick away to acquire Paul Gaustad. It was one of several moves Nashville made during the trade deadline to try and push themselves towards making a lengthy playoff run. Their efforts appeared to have failed on several levels. For one, they got eliminated in the second round and will probably lose most of their mid-season acquisitions as free agents, including Gaustad. If their hope was to convince Ryan Suter that they were serious about competing, then their efforts seem to have failed on that level too. Although it’s still possible Suter will eventually sign with Nashville, at the time of writing, he seems poised to test the free agent waters. Their only saving grace in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was their decision to trade goaltender Anders Lindback – who they don’t need, thanks to the presence of Pekka Rinne – and get the 37th overall pick as part of the deal. They used that selection on Pontus Aberg, who might prove to be just as talented as his more hyped countrymen Filip Forsberg and Sebastian Collberg.  

Phoenix Coyotes – B+  

The Coyotes grabbed the son of Ulf Samuelsson, Henrik, with the 27th overall pick in the draft. They’re getting a physical forward who might end up delivering a few controversial hits over the course of his career. However, perhaps more noteworthy was their decision to acquire defenseman Zbynek Michalek from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for journeyman goaltender Marc Cheverie, 2011 third round pick Harrison Ruopp, and the 81st overall pick of 2012, who turned out to be Oskar Sundqvist. In Michalek they’re getting a defensive defenseman who can eat minutes and isn’t afraid to block shots. Pittsburgh probably saw this deal as primarily a salary dump, but given that the Coyotes might have trouble just reaching the cap floor, his $4 million annual salary shouldn’t bother them.  

San Jose Sharks – B-  

The Sharks had the 17th overall pick and used it on Tomas Hertl, whom the Sharks are hoping will be able to function as a winger or center and in all situations.  They got that pick as compensation for being unable to sign Patrick White, a first-round pick in 2007.  They used that selection on Chris Tierney, who is a center with some offensive upside.  He might have been a bit of a stretch as a second rounder, but they didn’t have a third round pick, so if he’s someone they really wanted, this was probably their last chance short of a trade.  

St. Louis Blues – B  

The Blues conformed to the general theme of the first round and picked a defenseman. They got an offensive defenseman and potential power-play quarterback when they took Jordan Schmaltz with the 25th overall pick.  After that they grabbed Samuel Kurker with the 56th pick. He’s a project and might end up in college, but could also eventually become a scoring forward at the NHL level.  

Vancouver Canucks – B-   Thanks to the emphasis on defensemen in the early part of the draft, the Canucks got Brendan Gaunce at the bargain price of the 26th overall pick.  Gaunce might develop into a two-way forward and the type of secondary scorer the Canucks crave to compliment their top-tier players.  The Canucks then added some size to their organization by taking Mallet in the second round.  Unlike Gaunce, that pick came as a genuine shock, as Mallet wasn’t projected to go nearly that early.  He’s been compared to Alex Burrows, a late bloomer who turned into a consistent 25+ goal scorer.  That’s probably too much to hope for out of Gaunce, but of course, only time will tell.


Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.
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