The buildup surrounding the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft surrounded three players – Russian dynamo Nail Yakupov, who was projected as an elite scoring threat every time he stepped on the ice; Ryan Murray, a heady, smooth-skating two-way defenseman who could anchor a blueline for the next decade (if not longer); and Alex Galchenyuk, Yakupov’s line-mate in Sarnia for one glorious season and one playoff run, after Galchenyuk came back from a potentially devastating ACL tear.
Yakupov was not the clear-cut number one pick, but he was definitely the favorite. It would depend on whether or not the Edmonton Oilers preferred to add another top-flight offensive prospect to an already deep forward group, or look to shore up a pitiful defense, which has arguably been the main reason for the Oilers tailspin to a permanent spot in the NHL’s cellar over the past few years.
In the end, the Oilers ended up favoring the high-end star-power potential of a Yakupov to a potential number one defenseman in Ryan Murray, and Galchenyuk fell right into newly minted Montreal Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin’s lap.
Fast-forward nearly three years and the picture is quite different – Yakupov is teetering on the fence between “salvageable” and “bust,” Murray has been outclassed by the defensemen taken later in the draft, and Galchenyuk, while fairly productive, has yet to clamp down a top-line center spot that he was drafted to slot into.
As we take a look back on the 2012 Draft, the body of work shows that several teams would want a redo on the selections they made on that fateful day in June of 2012.
1. Edmonton Oilers – W, Filip Forsberg
The name alone is tempting, but don’t confuse this Forsberg with Peter. Filip Forsberg hadn’t put up major numbers in Sweden, but that’s usually the case with young players, who don’t get as much playing time and have to rely on showing their stuff with limited opportunities. Despite this, Forsberg would now be the easy choice for the Oilers, who need more than just a flashy player who scored a ton of goals in the CHL – they need an all-around force who can make an impact at both ends of the ice. Forsberg fits the bill.
Let’s hope the Oilers don’t pull a Capitals and throw Forsberg away for a bag of peanuts and a bucket of pucks.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets – D, Jacob Trouba
The Blue Jackets still need a defenseman, but instead of the (thus far) unimpressive and oft-injured Murray, they grab Jacob Trouba, who has slowly but surely established himself as a force over the past two seasons. Trouba will never put up Karlsson or Subban-like numbers offensively, but he’ll be able to break 40 points, play 23-25 minutes a game and anchor the back-end for the next decade. Columbus already have Jack Johnson to handle the offensive load – now they can slide Trouba alongside him and boast one of the best young defensive pairings in the league.
3. Montreal Canadiens – C, Alex Galchenyuk
The crafty American/Russian center falls to the Habs yet again, much to the delight of Bergevin. The Habs still need a big center and no one else has come close to matching Galchenyuk’s production. Coming off an ACL tear, Galchenyuk might be viewed as damaged goods, but the talent is too tantalizing for a team like Montreal to pass up – especially considering last season’s train-wreck of a season. He might not have bumped Tomas Plekanec or David Desharnais out of their spots right away, but eventually this will be Galchenyuk’s team.
4. New York Islanders – D, Hampus Lindholm
The New York Islanders are slowly but surely building a pretty formidable core of young players – now they need a steady defenseman who can not only defend the fort, but also move the puck up the ice for John Tavares and Co. to do their thing. Lindholm is as smooth and effective a defenseman as you can find in this draft, so the Islanders have an easy selection and would have been able to pencil him into their roster instantly.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs – D, Morgan Rielly
The Leafs have no reason to take anyone else in this spot, as Rielly has shown he’s a capable building block for this team to build its blueline around. Similar to Lindholm, Rielly is a remarkable skater who can jump-start the offense, produce it himself or slow the game down and control the pace from the back-end. The Leafs might be tempted for by the star-power of Murray or Yakupov, but Rielly is the pick with the most upside at this point.
6. Anaheim Ducks – D, Olli Maatta
Olli Maatta might end up being the best defenseman to come out of this draft when it is all said and done. Maatta was productive and steady with the London Knights, and at 6’2, 208, he’s a big body who can handle a heavy forecheck from a tenacious opponent. Anaheim values size, especially in the rough Western Conference, so a guy like Maatta is just what the doctor ordered. He’d slide in nicely alongside the likes of Cam Fowler, Francois Beauchemin and Sami Vatanen, who hails from the same Finnish town as Maatta.
7. Minnesota Wild – D, Ryan Murray
Ryan Murray finally comes off the board at number 7, as his free-fall mercifully ends. Murray will get to slide into a lineup alongside freshly-signed Ryan Suter, giving Suter someone to mentor and mold before the two become a minute-eating factory on the Wild blueline. That combination is too tempting for the Minnesota brass to pass up, especially at this spot in the Draft.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins – W, Nail Yakupov
#FailForNail ends up being a meaningless hashtag and Yakupov slides down to what would have arguably been a perfect situation. Despite his struggles in Edmonton thus far, Yakupov has an abundance of talent and once it all clicks for him, he will be a dangerous scorer in the NHL for several years. Perhaps Yakupov would have been better served starting his career in a secondary scoring role while getting playing time with one or both of the best centers in the league.
9. Winnipeg Jets – G, Frederik Andersen
The return of the Jets has lit a fire under the city of Winnipeg, but eventually they are going to want to see results. While there’s a decent foundation to work with, the Jets aren’t 100% sold on Ondrej Pavelec and, in this re-draft, consider solidifying the crease for years to come. Frederik Andersen is the highest riser in this redraft and for good reason – he’s shown flashes of the talent needed to hold down a No.1 job in the NHL and before long he would have been backstopping the Jets to the playoffs.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning – D, Derrick Pouliot
The temptation to take a goalie here is great, but with four on the roster and the newly-acquired (at the time) Ben Bishop waiting in the wings, the Lightning can hold off and grab defenseman Derrick Pouliot, another big, mobile puck-mover who put up massive numbers in the hard-nosed WHL. Victor Hedman could certainly use some help on the back-end and Pouliot could do just that down the road.
11. Washington Capitals – C, Zemgus Girgensons
The Capitals are always going to be looked at as an offensive powerhouse, especially with Alex Ovechkin in the fold, but you can never have enough size or scoring up the middle. Girgensons is a raw talent who put up impressive numbers in the USHL, so while he still needs some seasoning, the one-two punch of Backstrom and Girgensons up the middle could have made Washington an even scarier offensive juggernaut than they already are.
12. Buffalo Sabres – G, Andrei Vasilevskiy
The end of the Ryan Miller era finally came and the Sabres have been without solid goaltending ever since (and even during Miller’s last two years). Enter Andrei Vasilevskiy, another top-flight goaltending prospect who should be able to hold down a crease for many years in the NHL. Vasilevskiy fits the new-NHL goaltending mold with his steady positioning and size, but he’s also able to make the spectacular save when called upon.
13. Dallas Stars – C, Tomas Hertl
The Dallas Stars need some more “pizzazz” up front and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Hertl would provide just that. Don’t be fooled by the baby-face, as Hertl is a force at 6’2, 210, with soft hands and a nose for the net. Hertl could slide into a Stars lineup lacking it’s former offensive punch, when Mike Modano and Brendan Morrow were the ones filling up the nets in the Lone Star State. Hertl would fit nicely alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
14. Buffalo Sabres – D, Matt Dumba
You can never have enough good defenseman and it help when some of your defenseman have rocket launchers set up at the point during a power-play. Dumba’s physical play, bone-crushing hits and bomb of a shot would make him a fan-favorite in Buffalo before long, and inject some more youth on a fairly young defensive corps that could evolve into a solid unit over time. Dumba wasn’t NHL ready right off the hop, but the Sabres would have been rewarded for their patience once he was ready.
15. Ottawa Senators – D, Cody Ceci
This pick makes perfect sense (as much today as it did back then). Hometown boy Cody Ceci slides in nicely on a defense that features the electrifying Erik Karlsson and steady rearguards Chris Phillips and Mark Methot, under whom Ceci can learn a lot from before taking of the reins alongside Karlsson down the road. Ceci is yet another big defenseman with some offensive touch, a nice combo for any team to add to their blueline.
16. Washington Capitals – D, Damon Severson
Damon Severson might not be better than the players taken after him in the redraft, but in this scenario Washington takes Girgensons earlier in the draft and now looks to shore up the backend. Severson fits the bill as a mobile defenseman who can eat up minutes on the backend and focus more on his defensive responsibilities while Mike Green and Co. continue to pace the Caps high-octane offense – and when he’s ready he’ll unleash his own offensive ability.
17. San Jose Sharks – C, Chris Tierney
Yes, we hear you – Tierney ends up going to the Sharks in the second round. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s shown to be good enough to have been selected much higher than he originally was (55th overall). Tierney improved his scoring totals each year in London, and will be looking to bring that offensive ability to a team that is already pretty loaded up front. Tierney will have time to develop in the pros and eventually take over the reins from the likes of Marleau and Thornton (because Father Time catches up to everyone at some point), though that may be as soon as next year.
18. Chicago Blackhawks – W, Tanner Pearson
The Blackhawks are in win-now mode and while Teuvo Teravainen is an interesting possibility, Stan Bowman chooses to learn towards the older Pearson, who was passed over in his draft year but exploded for 91 points as a 19-year old in Barrie and finally caught the eye of scouts around the league. Peason made the jump to the NHL sooner than Teravainen, and would provide a viable secondary scoring threat to support the fearsome foursome of Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning – C, Teuvo Teravainen
Teuvo Teravainen was another name who was spoken highly-spoken of leading up to the 2012 Draft, only to watch his name rise up to the top of the “best remaining” list as he dropped past the middle of the first round. Teravainen showed off some impressive skills in Finland, but it ‘s taken him awhile to adjust in North America – and the Lightning could bring him into the fold in a few years when they hope to be contending for a Stanley Cup.
20. Philadelphia Flyers – C, Scott Laughton
The pick stays the same for the Flyers at number 20 – they grab Scott Laughton, who was projected as another two-way center with the ability to put the puck in the net (he racked up 87 points with Oshawa in his final junior season). The Flyers are set down the middle for years to come, as they add Laughton to a list that includes Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux. They probably won’t all play up the middle, but having depth at the center position is paramount.
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