The 2012 NHL Entry Draft went down as one of the wildest and most unpredictable selection processes that I have seen in years as prospects that some NHL Teams had ranked as first rounder prospects were no better than fifth rounders on another teams lists.
The variance in opinions this year was seen most of all in the middle rounds of the 2012 NHL Draft as prospects that Future Considerations had rate much higher started to come off the board as extremely high value selections as third, fourth and even fifth round picks.
While it is still early and history shows that there is plenty of time for prospects to still develop as well as possibly regress, in my opinion no team did better at re-stocking their prospect cupboard than the Montreal Canadiens as they looked too have a very similar draft board as myself. Trevor Timmons and his staff were content to sit back and take the best available on their list all day Saturday en route to a very strong talent haul overall.
The addressed a long time need of a true No. 1 big time centre in Alex Galchenyuk at third overall. Montreal, who had Galchenyuk rated as the top prospect overall, followed up of round after round of talent as second rounder Sebastian Collberg has first round talent and top six offensive potential. Overall they added seven prospects and six of whom I feel fairly confident will be NHLers within four to five years.
That brings me to the next section as my pick for the top three value picks. Value meaning the prospect who has the highest upside in relation to the spot in the draft they were selected. For this I am leaving out the first round as most first rounder prospects are expected to become eventual NHL players.
Honorable mentions go to three first round talents taken in the second round in new Ducks centre Nicolas Kerdiles, Predators forward Colton Sissons and Montreal defenseman Dalton Thrower, all of whom have the potential to be big time NHL players for the teams that selected them in a few years. Being that these were all second rounders and some talent tends to always slips into round two of the draft every year I thought I would eliminate the second round from this list as well.
My third best value has to be the selection of Matt Murray the big butterfly stopper out of Sault Ste. Marie by Pittsburgh in the third round. Murray in my opinion has high end potential with both incredible natural size and athleticism. Murray was FC’s 41st overall ranked prospect for the 2012 NHL Draft.
My second best value pick is Los Angeles’ selection of big Russian forward Nikolai Prokhorkin. I know there is that stigma of drafting Russians and that they could jump ship and return to make similar or in some cases more money in the KHL, my opinion is you take the best talent available and try to develop that relationship that keeps the prospect in North America. LA made a very astute pick here as Prokhorkin is not too far away from NHL duty. Prokhorkin was FC’s 56th overall ranked prospect for the 2012 NHL Draft.
Even though Aaron Vickers, FC’s Managing Editor, asked me to pen an article about my top three best values taken in the draft, since these are both Montreal Canadien picks they will count as my top value selection. With their fourth round pick Montreal nabbed Windsor two-way forward Brady Vail, whom FC had ranked 51st overall, and followed that up in the fifth round by selecting offensively minded winger Charles Hudon, FC’s 52nd overall ranked prospect for the 2012 NHL Draft.
While Vail might not have as much offensive pop as the diminutive Hudon possesses, there is little doubt both will play in the NHL for Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge after a few more years of seasoning.
With regards to who should have gone within the 211 picks made over the weekend but did not, I think most will point to top Russian prospect, skilled left winger Anton Slepyshev who preformed well in the Kontinental Hockey League with Metallurg Novokuznetsk this past season.
Also, big Swedish left winger Emil Lundberg who played well with Sodertalje, Edmonton Oil King defenseman Cody Corbett and strong Finnish winger Henri Ikonen of KalPa all were rated in FC’s top 100 and did not have their names called.
Overall, though regardless of KHL concerns, it still is extremely surprising that not a single NHL team had the confidence to make a swing-for-the fences selection in taking Slepyshev with even a seventh round pick.
These were my personal thoughts from the 2012 NHL Draft; look for more reviews from some of FC’s scouts in the coming days.