The 2012 NHL Draft is by far one of the strangest in recent memory. Through it, we have seen an abundance of solid hockey players, but also many players that did not even come close in reaching their potentials. While some first round picks have grown into reliable and even integral pieces of their clubs, others have yet to make an impact in the league or even permanently to the NHL.
Through this article, we will be exploring seven players who have become legitimate studs in the league as well as eight players who have failed. Although it is fair to say that some of these players still have time to turn their careers around, it is apparent that a handful simply have no chance. That is another topic that will be evaluated through this list of players.
Nonetheless, here is a list of eight players who are
18 Failing: Derrick Pouliot
Derrick Pouliot was the 8th overall selection from 2012 NHL Entry Draft and has yet to play a full season with the Penguins. It is fair to argue that the main reason for this is the fact that the Penguins have a very solid defensive core and it is hard to fit him in the lineup. However, as an offensive defenseman, he has yet to put up any spectacular stats. His last NHL goal came during the 2014-15 season and he has seen his playing time dip each season.
What stings the most about Pouliot's slow progression is that he was the main piece of the Jordin Staal trade to Carolina. With Staal, the Penguins gave up a very talented two-way forward who can put up decent points and work on the penalty kill very effectively. With a just about a half of a decade passed since the 2012 NHL Draft, it is quite apparent that the Penguins have not received what they thought from Pouliot. Hopefully they will see more production from him in the future and he becomes the defenseman they wanted.
17 Superstar: Olli Maatta
Luckily, the Penguins had another first round pick in 2012 and they used it to select Olli Maatta. From the start of his career, Maatta has been an amazing fit for the successful Penguins. He can be classified as a speedy, two-way defenseman who is more of finesse player, rather than physical. Since joining the Penguins, he has been a key contributor toward their playoff success and two Stanley Cup victories.
It is also important to note that Maatta has dealt with a lot of setbacks since joining the league. He is very injury prone and has missed a good amount of hockey each season he has played so far. He also was diagnosed with thyroid cancer during the beginning of the r 2014-15 season, by the luckily recovered and was able to return quickly. For a player who has experienced so much, the Penguins should be extremely grateful for his play and ability to maintain a solid career.
16 Failing: Ryan Murray
Ryan Murray was the second overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Many NHL scouts predicted that he could have been drafted first overall, but the Edmonton Oilers decided to go with Russian winger, Nail Yakupov. His junior career was very solid and he was considered one of the best two way defenseman from that draft class.
Today however, Murray has yet to reach the expectations that many thought he would accomplish. He never became an elite, Top-2 defenseman in the NHL and has yet to put up any spectacular seasons. Although he is a steady Top-6 defenseman today, he qualifies under a failure because he never became the franchise defenseman Columbus needed in a draft class that has seen much better.
15 Superstar: Hampus Lindholm
Hampus Lindholm was drafted 6th overall by the Anaheim Ducks and has been a large part of their success these past few years. Lindholm provides them with not only great defensive skill, but also is a wonderful puck mover and passer. In just over three hundred games players, Lindholm has put up a respectable 112 points, which is solid for a defenseman.
Lindholm has all the tools to be one of the most talented defensemen in the league. Although he is not known for his physical play, his overall talent completely shadows that. For the Ducks to continue to be a top tier team, they need players like Lindholm to carry the team when Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry retire. Lindholm should have no trouble with that.
14 Failing: Malcolm Subban
Malcolm Subban was drafted 24th overall by the Boston Bruins and today, has yet to play a full season with the club. Although goalies tend to develop slower than skaters, this should still be alarming to Bruins fans. In his two NHL games, Subban was pulled early in both of the most and had an abysmal .727 SV% and 5.81 GAA. That is far from what the Bruins expected from him.
Although he has time to redeem his career, it is very hard to believe that he will ever be a superstar goalie. He has yet to put up a very successful AHL season and win a permanent backup job behind Tuukka Rask. Bruins management today must be scratching their heads over the decision they made taking on Subban, especially with Rask having many seasons left in his prime.
13 Superstar: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Unlike Subban, Andrei Vasilevskiy has progressed beautifully for the Lightning and now is their starting goaltender. Since making his debut at in 2014-15, Vasilevskiy has been a productive goalie in both the regular season and playoffs. When he was sharing playing time with Ben Bishop, he remained consistent and proved to be worthy enough to take the starting job for the 2017-18 season.
For the Lightning to be success this decade, Vasilevskiy will need to continue to improve and become the elite goaltender that he is inching closer and closer to. Lightning management must be extremely happy over what he has accomplished thus far, but he needs to continue it. Vasilevskiy could very well be the player that determines if Steven Stamkos will ever win a Stanley Cup.
12 Failing: Zemgus Girgensons
Zemgus Girgensons was drafted 12th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2012 Draft. This seemed to be a very smart pick because Girgensons was viewed a strong power forward who had the size to become a potential first line center in the future. Sadly for Buffalo, Girgensons never seemed to use his size to reach his potential.
Since his rookie season, the Sabres have seen Girgensons' point totals drop and become fourth line numbers at best. Girgensons is a player that very well could use a change of scenery as soon as possible. Through his stats, it is clear that his confidence has decreased and has hindered his growth. Maybe on a winning team, Girgensons could become a very respectable third line center and revive his career.
11 Superstar: Alex Galchenyuk
The Montreal Canadiens drafted Alex Galchenyuk 3rd overall during the 2012 NHL Draft and so far, he has been one of the most productive players from it. Galchenyuk has developed into a very solid playmaker and has put up very strong statistics. His best season was in the 2015-16 season when he scored 30 goals and had 56 points.
Although Galchenyuk has been a solid player in the NHL, he has been in many trade rumors over the past season. Although he has been a valuable piece to the Canadiens, it is rumored that the team is not fully confident over his ability as a center and they may use him to acquire a superstar. The Canadiens should think wisely before dealing him because he still has a ton of upside.
10 Failing: Mikhail Grigorenko
Buffalo had another swing and a miss when they drafted Mikhail Grigorenko 12th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. Grigorenko was an offensive machine during his time in juniors so it isn't understandable why Buffalo decided to go with him as their first pick that year. Yet, he sadly has yet to carry on this success in the NHL. He only registered nine points during his stint in Buffalo in parts of two seasons.
Although Buffalo made two miserable selections in 2012, at least they were able to use Grigorenko to acquire Ryan O'Reilly from the Avalanche. Sadly for Colorado, Grigorenko is still struggling at the NHL level and is not putting up numbers that most first round picks do. Thus, Grigorenko has been a bust for both of the teams he has played for and most likely will continue to be as the years continue to pass.
9 Superstar: Morgan Rielly
The Maple Leafs struck gold when they drafted Morgan Rielly 5th overall in the 2012 Draft. Not only has he carried his success to the NHL, but he has already become a very strong leader for the Blue and White. At the age of 23, he is already an alternate captain for a rising Toronto Maple Leafs club and it is fair to say that he is on the verge of becoming an elite defender.
Players like Rielly are the reason why the Maple Leafs are starting to find success after many years of failure. It is easy to tell that the Leafs will become one of the best teams in the league and may win a Stanley Cup sooner rather than later. With that, they will need to continue to see Rielly grow and become their true number one defenseman. This should not be too challenging for him.
7 Failing: Griffin Reinhart
Griffin Reinhart was drafted 4th overall by the New York Islanders in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Due to his size and defensive ability, many thought that he would become an incredible defenseman in the NHL. He did very well in juniors and some even expected him to end up being the best defenseman from this class.
Reinhart has shown absolutely no success in the NHL and has spent most of his time in AHL. The Islanders were very smart to trade him for the Oilers' first round pick in the 2015 draft because all they ended up getting rid of was a bust. After two years of failing to make the big club, the Oilers left him exposed for the Expansion Draft and he was picked up by the Golden Knights. Maybe he will turn it around in Vegas, but the chances seem slim.
6 Superstar: Mathew Dumba
Mathew Dumba was drafted 7th overall by the Minnesota Wild in the 2012 Draft and has become a huge part of their defensive core. Although he had some struggles when entering the league, he very well is considered one of the best defenseman from this draft class. His 2016-17 season saw him put up a respectable 34 points, which helped Minnesota have one of their best regular seasons in history.
The Wild are very lucky that they did not lose Dumba to the Golden Knights. A player of his talents are rare to find in this league and his absence from their blueline would have been very challenging to replace. With Dumba on their team still, the Wild should easily continue their success and even could have a shot at a Stanley Cup in the upcoming years.
4 Failing: Slater Koekkoek
Skater Koekkoek was drafted 10th overall by the Lightning in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and has yet to play an entire NHL season with the club. With the players available in this draft, it is fair to say that the Lightning made a mistake drafting Koekkoek. So far in just under fifty games player, Koekkoek has yet to score an NHL goal and has only five assists.
Koekkoek will be given another chance during the 2017-18 season and for his sake, he needs to finish an entire campaign in the NHL. Koekkoek will never be the elite defenseman that the Lightning wanted, but he could very turn into a Top 6 guy for them. If this does occur, it is still not what the Lightning needed from him when they drafted him at 10th overall.
2 Superstar: Filip Forsberg
Filip Forsberg is arguably the most talented player from this draft class and he was taken by the Capitals at 11th overall. Yet, it is important to note that Forsberg never played a game in Washington and was traded in 2013 for Martin Erat. Since the trade, Forsberg has become one the purest snipers in the league and has put up back to back thirty plus goal seasons.
The Capitals made by far one of the stupidest trades of this decade when they shipped out Forsberg. Forsberg very well could have been the player that led them to their long overdue Stanley Cup. Martin Erat was a complete stiff during his time in Washington and produced little to nothing. If Washington never wins the Stanley Cup, they can look back at this Forsberg trade as one of the main reasons.
1 Failing: Nail Yakupov
The first overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is a complete bust. When taking by Edmonton, the Oilers believed that Yakupov was going to become one of the best snipers in the league and help them out of the basement of the league. Yakupov put up a respectable season as a rookie and everything seemed perfectly fine. However, he never was the same from here.
Yakupov's point continued to decrease each season and by the 2016-17 season the Oilers gave up on him and traded him to the St. Louis Blues. People had thought that maybe playing on a new team would help Yakupov find his game, but that was not the case. Yakupov scored 3 goals for the Blues and it is very unlikely that he will be back with the team next year. Yakupov will forever go down as one of the worst first overall picks in NHL history.
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