The 2012 NHL Entry Draft represents the 50th draft conducted by the National Hockey League. The first NHL draft took place on June 5, 1963 in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

Prior to 1963, teams acquired amateur players through a series of Junior team sponsorships. The Draft was instituted a means to eliminate the sponsorships. However, players who were already part of an NHL’s team sponsored list were ineligible.

In The Hockey News’ NHL Draft Preview, Brian Costello wrote a brief history of the draft. In the article, he quoted Toronto Maple Leafs President Stafford Smythe who spoke about the need for a change back in November 1962.

“A Universal draft has to come,” Costello quotes Smythe. “Take a look at the records. Montreal and Toronto clubs won 14 of the last 19 Stanley Cups. When the other owners get to see the picture correctly, they’ll vote to change the rules.”

With the pickings so slim, it came as no surprise that only 21 of a possible 24 players were drafted. The Detroit Red Wings passed on the third and fourth round selections while the Chicago Blackhawks passed on their fourth round selection.

Of the 21 players drafted in the four rounds, only five made the NHL: Garry Monahan (1st overall), Peter Mahovlich and Walt McKechnie were first round selections. Jim McKenny was drafted in the third round and Gerry Meehan was the last selection of the draft in the fourth round.

It took a few years before the draft would produce what NHL President Clarence Campbell said would be “a uniform opportunity for each team to acquire a star player” when the New York Rangers drafted Brad Park with the second overall pick in the 1966 Draft.

For the third consecutive year, the Edmonton Oilers will have the first overall pick and first chance to fulfill Campbell’s vision. It also marks the fourth straight year the Oilers will have a Top 10 draft pick.

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is attempting to recreate the draft success the Pittsburgh Penguins when they made five Top 5 selections from 2002-2006 as they drafted Ryan Whitney (#5-2002), Marc-Andre Fleury (#1-2003 after trading up), Evgeni Malkin (#2-2004), Sidney Crosby (#1-2002), and Jordan Staal (#2-2006).

It is pretty much a given that Russian-Born LW Nail Yakupov is the top player in 2012 Draft. While his first name is pronounced “Nah-eel”, many fans wanted their teams to “Fail for Nail” – as THN pointed out. One scout told THN, “He’s a goal-scorer. A game creator with his speed and his ability to put the puck in the net.”

The problem for the Oilers is that, since 2007, they have used six of eight first round picks on forwards. Edmonton might be better off looking to draft one of the top defensemen available – whether it is Ryan Murray, Matt Dumba, Morgan Rielly, or Griffin Reinhart.

The question is will Edmonton just draft the best player available, or will they just draft the defenseman that bests fits their needs? If the Oilers decide to pass on Yakupov, there will be a long line of teams rushing to trade for the first overall selection.

Would Edmonton accept Rick Nash (should he agree) as part of a bigger deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets?

Speaking of Nash, his future will play a big part in how the draft shapes up. Will the Blue Jackets look to draft a replacement or will they go for Ryan Murray?

New GM Marc Bergevin would love dearly to make a big splash in first draft with the Habs, but does he have enough to interest the Oilers?

While the Islanders have John Tavares and some offensive talent, would GM Garth Snow look for another valuable offensive weapon as a means to move the franchise’s agenda of getting a new arena?

Brian Burke is getting much heat in Toronto, but is it enough heat for Burke to gamble like he did when he traded for Phil Kessel?

Since my crystal ball is out being serviced for the summer, I am going to leave the draft order as it is as of June 21.

In this Mock Draft, each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters, European skaters, North American goaltenders and European goaltenders. THN lists each prospect’s NHL Translation. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

1. Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov – RW
CS: # 1NA —– McK: # 1
THN: # 1 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 1 (Pavel Bure)
If GM Steve Tambellini holds on to the 1st pick, the Oilers will adhere to the motto of “draft the best player available”. ISS probably described Yakupov best when they wrote, “Simply put, he is a Ferrari. A dynamic scorer. Undisputed top player in the draft.”

2. Columbus Blue Jackets – Filip Forsberg – RW
CS: # 1E —– McK: # 3
THN: # 2 (Two-way Forward) —– ISS: # 2 (Jordan Staal)
Columbus expects to be the center of draft universe in Pittsburgh given the Nash situation and their 2nd overall draft position. Since the strength of the draft is in defensemen, it makes sense for GM Scott Howson to bring in a top forward

3. Montreal Canadiens – Mikhail Grigorenko – C
CS: # 3NA —– McK: # 9
THN: # 3 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 4 (Russian Joe Thornton)
Murray and Alex Galchenyuk will get long looks for the Habs, but Grigorenko’s offensive abilities, and size, will be too much to pass up. In addition to his on-ice pluses, Grigorenko is used to playing in Quebec province from his QMJHL days.

4. New York Islanders – Ryan Murray – D
CS: # 2 NA —– McK: # 4
THN: # 4 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 3 (Nicklas Lidstrom)
Isles have a cadre of young prospects among their forwards corps so bringing a top-notch d-man is the next step in the natural progression of rebuilding a franchise. With that said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Isles move down to take another d-man and add more draft picks.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs –Alex Galchenyuk – C
CS: #4NA —– McK: # 2
THN: # 7 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 14 (Paul Stastny)
I see the Maple Leafs as the biggest pursuer of the Oilers 1st pick because Brian Burke needs to make a splash. Galchenyuk is as talented as they come, but he lost a year of development after suffering a torn ACL. Toronto might go elsewhere if there is a concern over Galchenyuk’s health.

6. Anaheim Ducks – Griffin Reinhart – D
CS: # 10NA —– McK: # 7
THN: # 8 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 5 (Rob Blake)
Ducks have some age and decision to make among their forwards. Teemu Selanne will be back while Saku Koivu is an UFA – and they face the likelihood of losing Justin Schultz as an UFA. With the strength of this part of the draft in blueliners, look for Anaheim to go with the son of former NHLer Paul Reinhart as his size, shot and hockey sense push him ahead of the rest.

7. Minnesota Wild – Jacob Trouba – D
CS: # 9NA —– McK: # 10
THN: # 9 (Defensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 5 (Jack Johnson)
The Wild could look to go with a forward to help boost their offense, but Trouba brings in the size and grit they can use on defense. ISS says he “has the size, skill and skating ability to be a top two NHL d-man.”

8. Carolina Hurricanes – Teuvo Teravainen – LW
CS: # 2E —– McK: # 5
THN: # 12 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 9 (Claude Giroux)
The Canes could go with Faksa to provide a physical compliment to Eric Staal. However, Teravainen offers a smooth skating LW who is able to use his hockey IQ to enhance his puckhandling ability.

9. Winnipeg Jets – Radek Faksa – C/LW
CS: #7NA —– McK: # 16
THN: # 11 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 16 (James van Riemsdyk)
With Ondrej Pavelec being romanced by the KHL, the Jets could start the goalie rush. If not, the Jets will go with Faksa who adds size and power to their forwards corps. If Faksa goes to Carolina, the Jets will probably look at Teravainen or one of the d-men.

10. Tampa Bay Lightning – Morgan Rielly – D
CS: # 5NA —– McK: # 6
THN: #6 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 7 (Kris Letang)
With Anders Lindback in the fold, GM Steve Yzerman can continue the transformation of the Lightning. Rielly is an outstanding skater and puckhandler who will eat major minutes and can play in all situations.

11. Washington Capitals (1) – Sebastian Collberg – RW
CS: #3E —– McK: # 14
THN: # 14 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 13 (Jeff Skinner)
With Alexander Semin a good bet to leave as an UFA, Collberg would provide Alex Ovechkin a shooter/scorer to team up with in the future. While he didn’t score any points in 41 games in Sweden’s Elite League (playing a few shifts per game), Collberg was a big part of Tre Kronor’s WJC gold medal performance.

12. Buffalo Sabres – Matt Dumba – D
CS: # 11NA —– McK: # 6
THN: # 5 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 8 (Chris Chelios)
The Sabres would probably prefer to draft a forward, but Dumba’s talent is too good to pass up. He is a top two d-man who is an outstanding offensive player with good instincts defensively. He just needs to bulk to his 6-0/180 frame to make an impact in the NHL.

13. Dallas Stars – Brendan Gaunce – C
CS: # 13NA —– McK: # 18
THN: # 17 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 11 (David Backes)
Brendan’s brother Cameron Gaunce is a d-man in the Colorado organization. Brendan projects out to be a solid two-way power forward that brings leadership and hockey sense to a well-rounded NHL game.

14. Calgary Flames – Cody Ceci – D
CS: # 6NA —– McK: # 12
THN: # 10 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 10 (Brent Burns)
Ceci is a solid all-around blueliner who combines an offensive flair within a 6-3/210 frame. Ceci fits the Flames need to add offense and scoring from their defensemen.

15. Ottawa Senators – Derrick Pouliot -D
CS: # 12NA —– McK: # 17
THN: # 13 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 22 (Brian Campbell)
Ottawa has some good young talent on the way at forward with Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg. Pouliot adds another offensive weapon to go along with Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson.

16. Washington Capitals – Olli Maatta – D
CS: # 8NA —– McK: # 13
THN: # 20 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 12 ((Dmitry Kalikov)
With Dennis Wideman an UFA, Roman Hamrlik getting old and Tom Poti retiring, Maatta fits in well with the 16th overall selection. He is a solid d-man who stepped up his play in the playoffs with 23 points in 19 playoff games.

17. San Jose Sharks – Zemgus Girgensons -C
CS: # 18NA —– McK: # 15
THN: #16 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 24 (Shane Doan)
Born in Latvia, Girgensons moved to the USHL to help speed along his development and adjustment to North American hockey. He is committed to the University of Vermont. Zemgus’ size and leadership skills make him a fine replacement for Joe Thornton.

18. Chicago Blackhawks – Matthew Finn -D
CS: # 16NA —– McK: # 20
THN: #18 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 18 (Ryan Suter)
The Blackhawks could begin a run on goaltenders given the need to find a young goalie to push Corey Crawford. Finn is a solid d-man who is positioned well to join Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on Chicago’s blue line.

19. Tampa Bay Lightning (2) – Thomas Wilson – RW
CS: #15NA —– McK: # 19
THN: # 25 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 17 (Ryan Clowe)
Yzerman could look to make it two defensemen in the 1st round but, after trading away Carter Ashton, Tampa Bay should draft Wilson as a power forward replacement in the organization. Even if Wilson’s potential doesn’t completely pan out, he would be an effective physical winger to ride shotgun for Steven Stamkos.

20. Philadelphia Flyers – Slater Koekkoek – D
CS: # 23NA —– McK: # 22
THN: # 23 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 21 (Justin Schultz)
With Chris Pronger’s career uncertain, the Flyers need to start stockpiling their blueline reserve. While he won’t make anyone forget Pronger in the physical aspect of the game, Koekkoek has good size and will be a boost to the Flyers PP. His development was stunted a bit last year as a shoulder injury limited him to just 26 games with Peterborough.

21. Buffalo Sabres (3) – Nicolas Kerdiles – C
CS: # 29NA —– McK: # 43
THN: # 33 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 15 (James Neal)
Buffalo has a lot of young talented forwards. However, the likes of Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe lack size – hence the drafting of Kerdiles (6-2/200). He helped lead the USA U-18 team to Gold and will continue his development at the University of Wisconsin. The Sabres might also consider Wilson if he slips down to this spot.

22. Pittsburgh Penguins – Stefan Matteau – C/LW
CS: # 17NA —– McK: # 26
THN: # 30 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 31(Brooks Laich)
The hometown Pens would love to make a splash as the host of the 2012 Draft. They have some cap concerns over extending Jordan Staal’s contract, so they might look to shake up the draft and move up as part of a trade. If not, Matteau adds size and leadership and can either fill a hole on the wing or at center. Ranger fans will not be happy that the son of Stephane Matteau goes to a divisional rival, but it could have been worse, he could have ended up with the Devils.

23. Florida Panthers – Hampus Lindholm – D
CS: # 4E —– McK: # 11
THN: # 15 (Two-way D-man) —– ISS: # 19 (Oliver Ekman-Larsson)
Dale Tallon has done a fine job rebuilding the Panthers. They have the enviable option of giving their prospects a chance to mature as opposed to rushing them (e.g. Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom). Lindholm has nice size (6-3/200) and showed good development as the season progressed. He helped his team, Rogle, gain promotion to the Swedish Elite League

24. Boston Bruins –Ludvig Bystrom – D
CS: # 8E —– McK: # 41
THN: # 19 (Two-way D-man) —– ISS: # 29 (Marc-Edouard Vlasic)
With Tim Thomas taking a “sabbatical”, the Bruins might look to draft a goalie to team with Tuukka Rask down the line. However, they can use another d-man to help Dougie Hamilton bridge the gap beyond Zdeno Chara. While Bystrom still needs to be more consistent, he showed he has the ability to step up his play as he played 20 games in the Elite League with Modo as an 18-year-old.

25. St. Louis Blues – Brady Skjei – D
CS: # 19NA —– McK: # 21
THN: # 26 (Smooth-skating D-man) —– ISS: # 26 (Ryan McDonagh)
The Blues have some good talent in the pipeline at forward with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, so adding another blue chip blueliner to help out Alex Pietrangelo is a good thing. Skjei is a big (6-3/205) fluid skating d-man with tremendous upside. He is committed to the University of Minnesota.

26. Vancouver Canucks – Henrik Samuelsson – C
CS: # 75NA —– McK: # 32
THN: # 50 (Third Line Center) —– ISS: # 27 (Mats Sundin)
With a decision to make between going with Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, Vancouver might be in the market for a goalie of the future. With Cody Hodgson dealt away at the deadline, Vancouver will look to Samuelsson to step into his spot. The son of former NHL d-man Ulf Samuelsson, Henrik is a solid two-way forward that thrives in the physical game. He will benefit from the tutelage of the Sedin Twins.

27. Phoenix Coyotes – Pontus Aberg – LW
CS: # 6E —– McK: # 28
THN: # 22 (Skilled Forward) —– ISS: # 20 (Phil Kessel)
With the Coyotes ownership still unsettled, GM Don Maloney is going to have to look to the Draft to add offensive help. Aberg played the majority of the season in the Swedish Elite League where he used his outstanding speed and competiveness to succeed.

28. New York Rangers – Dalton Thrower – D
CS: # 26NA —– McK: # 38
THN: # 29 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 28 (Kevin Bieksa)
The Rangers would have loved to see one of the power forwards fall to them, but that is not the case. The Blueshirts could look to the long-term future and draft a goalie to groom as Henrik Lundqvist’s eventual successor. In the end, Thrower might be a nice alternative. He is a right-handed shooting d-man that would fit in well with their bevy of lefty d-men. He is a fierce competitor who loves to be physical, throw big hits and fight when needed. He would see time on both the PK and PP for New York.

29. New Jersey Devils (4) – Andrei Vasilevski – G
CS: # 1E-G —– McK: # 23
THN: # 21 (Starting Goaltender) —– ISS: # 3-G (Not Available)
President/GM Lou Lamoriello must have something up his sleeve because some people expected the Devils to forfeit this pick as a result of the sanctions for circumventing the salary cap in re-signing Ilya Kovalchuk. It could be Lou buying time until he can secure a 1st round pick a trade or he might just have a particular player in mind. While Martin Brodeur defied Father Time, the Devils will have to replace him eventually. Vasilevski gets the call, although Oscar Dansk and Malcolm Subban are other possibilities.

30. Los Angeles Kings – Scott Laughton – C
CS: # 28NA —– McK: # 25
THN: # 42 (Shutdown Forward) —– ISS: # 23 (Dustin Brown)
The Kings have done well by their selection of Dustin Brown, so drafting Laughton would be a good way to look to the future. While he isn’t a big goal scorer, he is a hard worker with excellent hockey sense and is the type of two-way forward that would help the Kings in life after Brown.

First Round Draft Pick Transactions

1. Colorado’s 1st round pick goes to Washington as the result of the 7/1/11 trade that sent Semyon Varlamov to Colorado in exchange for a 2012 or 2013 2nd round pick and this pick.
2. Detroit’s 1st round pick goes to Tampa Bay as a result of the 2/21/12 trade that sent Kyle Quincey to Detroit in exchange for Sebastien Piche and this pick.
3. Nashville’s 1st round pick goes to Buffalo as a result of the 2/27/12 trade that sent Paul Gaustad and a 2013 4th round pick in exchange for this pick.
4. New Jersey has to forfeit one 1st round pick between 2011 (which they didn’t opt to do) and 2014, at their own choice, as a result of the penalty sanction due to cap circumvention when re-signing Ilya Kovalchuk. The penalty also included a $3 million fine and the forfeiture of the Devils 2011 3rd round pick. The Devils elected to keep this pick.

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