The 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh certainly took some interesting turns, to say the least.
Many of us were a bit stunned as we saw Teuvo Teravainen fall precipitously down the draft board until Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks called his name.
The Finn had been shooting up FC’s charts the second half of the season at a break neck pace, eventually landing at #8 in our final ranking. With youth – he was one of the youngest players in his draft class – and an immense offensive upside at his disposal, many felt he was going to be a surefire top-10 pick, if not top-5.
His slide was the Hawks’ gain. Already one of the upper echelon teams in the league, Chicago now has the luxury of not needing to rush Teravainen overseas and into the lineup, and the greater fortune of inserting him in a ready-made environment for success when they do with the likes of Toews, Kane, Hossa, and Sharp. The Jokerit winger will not only be surrounded by talented veterans to play with, but also a group of players who can show him how to be a professional off the ice as well.
I liked what the Carolina Hurricanes did with their draft this year. The headline will read that they acquired Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh in a blockbuster deal, but they did a really good job with the actual selections, including one of the my favorites from the 2011-12 season in defenseman Jaccob Slavin.
The Erie, Co. native did it all for the Chicago Steel. He played tough minutes against the other teams top lines and killed penalties, then worked the point on the #1 power play unit. Simply put, Slavin meant so much to the Steel that the team would often suffer when he wasn’t on the ice because he needed a breather. Possessing great character and work ethic, Slavin is dedicated to making himself a better player and turning his weaknesses into his strengths. He’ll head to Colorado College in 2013 and look to continue building on his top-4 potential.
One of my favorite players this year, one of whom I had ranked highly in my regional rankings was Samuel (Hunter) Fejes of Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep. A perennial powerhouse, the Sabres once again won the Tier 1 National Championship thanks in large part to Fejes.
The six-foot-two Alaska product was often the hardest working player on the ice, using his great skating ability and gritty style to be a constant disruption to the opposition. However, the intriguing upside to Fejes is his ability to put the puck in the net. He led the team in goals with 38 despite playing on the third line; meaning he out produced fellow SSM draftees Teddy Bleuger (PIT) and Zach Stepan (NSH) despite not getting the same top-6 minutes and offensive opportunities like power play time.
He showed good goal scoring instincts, and while owning a great shot and quick release, he scored every which way you could think of. A future teammate of Slavin, Fejes will suit up for CC this Fall. Phoenix got really good value in the sixth round.
In a draft where we saw a good number of re-entries selected due to the lack of depth talent-wise, I’m quite surprised no one took Matt Pohlkamp of Brainerd HS in Northern Minnesota.
The June 1993 birth date quite simply dominated this year. He lit up the score sheet but also was one of the most physical players in my region. The six-foot-one, 200-pounder showed legitimate power forward potential, capable of not just dangling around a defender, but also putting him through the glass on the forecheck.
He skates well, and has the hands to make plays and bury the puck. The former high school football star committed himself to hockey and was rewarded with Fargo selecting him in the USHL Draft, as well as a scholarship to Bowling Green State University.
Perhaps that route instead will one day lead him to the NHL.