During the NHL season, there is always some excitement surrounding Pittsburgh. This offseason proved to be the same as the Penguins were the host of the 2012 NHL Draft. In less than 8 total hours, the draft came and went as each team tried their best to secure their future.
Despite the numerous rumors surrounding the top two picks in the draft, there were no major trades that shook the draft order for the teams that needed the most help. The Edmonton Oilers selected in what many believed to be the best player in right winger Nail Yakupov, while the Columbus Blue Jackets picked the sure bet in defenseman Ryan Murray. It wasn't until after the first five picks that the draft started to get interesting.
Top 5 NHL Draft Picks:
- Nail Yakupov - RW - Edmonton Oilers
- Ryan Murray - D - Columbus Blue Jackets
- Alex Galchenyuk - C - Montreal Canadiens
- Griffin Reinhart - D - New York Islanders
- Morgan Rielly - D - Toronto Maple Leafs
At No. 6, the Anaheim Ducks picked defenseman Hampus Lindholm that was a surprise, and possibly a little reach, to many analysts. The biggest splash came from the Carolina Hurricanes as they traded their 8th overall pick (along with Suter & Dumoulin) to the Pittsburgh Penguins for center Jordan Staal. The Staal trade could become the most memorable draft day trade in recent years depending on how the players involved mold to their new teams. Possibly one of the biggest winners of the first round were the Washington Capitals in securing center Filip Forsberg with the 11th overall pick and then grabbing right-winger Thomas Wilson with the 16th overall pick.
While it might be too early to discuss the Calder Trophy race (NHL's top rookie), the "on paper" leaders will likely be Yakupov, Murray, and Forsberg. All three players will presumably make their respective squads this season and will be given plenty of ice time to show their talents.
There wasn't a lack of player movement as a few NHL clubs became aggressive in trying to improve their team immediately. Apart from the splash trade of Jordan Staal, the Blue Jackets and Coyotes pulled the trigger on trades that will hopefully improve their team next season. Columbus finally put another goalie on their roster that they can potentially count on if Steve Mason doesn't improve while Phoenix has secured a top defensive partner for Oliver Ekman-Larson in Zbynek Michalek.
Blue Jackets acquire Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for 2 - 2012 NHL Draft Picks (2nd - 45, 4th Rounds - 116) and a 2013 NHL Draft Pick (4th Round).
Phoenix Coyotes obtain Zbynek Michalek from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for the Harrison Ruopp, Marc Cheverie, and a 2012 NHL Draft Pick (3rd Round - 81).
Washington Capitals acquire Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Cody Eakin and a 2012 NHL Draft pick (2nd Round -56).
New York Islanders land Lubomir Visnovsky from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2013 NHL Draft Pick (2nd Round).
Carolina Hurricanes pick up Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Brandon Sutter, the No. 8th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and Brian Dumoulin.
Boston Bruins trade the rights of Benoit Pouliot to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Michel Ouellet and a 2012 NHL Draft pick (5th Round - 131).
Winners / Losers:
Ask anyone who knows their weight in hockey analysis will tell you that we won't be able to say who the real winners and losers are until three to five years down the road. However, that doesn't stop us from speculating as to what our gut reactions are. As you continue reading, please take these initial reactions with a grain of salt:
Washington Capitals - not only do they find a solution to their second line center problem in Mike Ribeiro, but also they landed two building blocks in the draft with Filip Forsberg and Thomas Wilson. If they can convince Evgeny Kuznetsov to come to the NHL for the 2013-2014 season, the Capitals could be an offensive force.
Colorado Avalanche - The Avs seem to be a victim of what they did not do. Armed with only five picks in 2012 draft, the club didn't have a lot of opportunities to bolster their prospect pool. On the bright side, they did come to a 2-Year agreement with Matt Duchene and most of the players that need new contracts on their club are Restricted Free Agents.
Edmonton Oilers - The ease of having the 1st overall pick in the draft doesn't make you a clear winner. While Yakupov will ultimately help this team win, their grade will be tied to what happens in free agency. This club is in dire need of a strong defense and a franchise goalie if they want to march into the playoffs. Could they trade one of their young stars for a defensemen or can they land one in free agency? The last thing this club needs is to be sitting with a top pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Pittsburgh Penguins - the host with the most turned a lot of heads this weekend with their splashy moves. The real key will be what they decide to do in the next three weeks. Their prospect pool is overflowing with quality defensemen and they've just freed up around $14.5 million dollars in cap space. Will they be the first in line to try and sign players like defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise? Or will they take some of their current roster defenseman (Paul Martin, Ben Lovejoy) and trade them? Mystery is in the air for the ice happy birds.
In an environment where the fans can’t wait to talk about the next big movement for their club, all eyes are set for the start of Free Agency on July 1st. Many insiders believe that after the first couple days of signings, the dominoes will begin to fall left and right. Only then will we be able to tell who has set themselves up for a chance at success for the 2012-2013 NHL season.
Looking back on the 2012 Draft, what will you remember most and who do you think are the big winners & losers this year?
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I don't get the excitement about Forsberg. Montreal's second round pick Sebastien Collberg outscored him handily when they were teammates on the Swedish national teams. I also don't get the excitement about Wilson. Another Montreal second round, Dalton Thrower, fought him to a draw at the Prospects Game, (despite a 4" height disadvantage) and scored double the points in the CHL last season. Even though Wilson is a forward and Thrower a defenseman. You must be a Caps fan.