Yesterday, we broke down the first half of the 2012 NHL Draft’s first round. Today, we are going to take a look at how the playoff teams from last year will be helping out their cause.

  1. Washington CapitalsSebastian Collberg, forward. Having taken Ceci at 11, the Capitals patiently wait to see which forward will be available, and are elated to take Collberg, who, if he develops properly, should fit the hole left by Semin. The Swede is not as highly regarded as Forsberg, mainly due to Forsberg’s size, but Collberg’s wrist shot is enough to entice the Capitals.
  1. San Jose SharksHampus Lindholm, defenseman. Lindholm is another player who has been rapidly rising up draft boards, and now seems a sure-fire bet to be taken in the 1st round. The Sharks, after yet another year of choking in the playoffs, are still drafting relatively high here, considering other years where they drafted in the 20s. As such, they’ll be looking for a potential home run swing, and the Swedish Lindholm is that type of player. Although the Sharks have a stable of good defenseman – Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Doug Murray – they still take a chance on Lindholm’s ability.
  1. Chicago BlackhawksMalcolm Subban, goalie. It’s an off-the-board pick, but Chicago has depth at nearly every position – forward, defense, but their current starter, Corey Crawford, has not lived up to expectations, and there’s no goalie prospects who look to seize the job. They could try to swing a trade, or they could use the 18th pick to take the best goalie available – Malcolm Subban, younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban. Blackhawk fans may not like this pick at first, but stability in net is very important if they want to win another Stanley Cup.
  1. Tampa Bay LightningBrendan Gaunce, forward. The Lightning also need a goalie, but with Subban off the board and Reinhart already donning a Lightning sweater, they go for a center. While Vincent Lecavalier was once the face of this franchise, and was a major factor in them winning the cup, Tampa is now the Steven Stamkos show, and last season Lecavalier put up his lowest point total in 10 years. Gaunce is a physical power forward who would compliment the super-elite sniper that is Stamkos, and could provide the Lightning with a 1-2 punch if Lecavalier keeps regressing.
  1. Philadelphia FlyersTom Wilson, forward. My honest opinion? The Flyers will trade this pick, along with a couple roster players to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rick Nash. It’s a poorly-kept secret that James van Riemsdyk is holding off surgery so the Flyers won’t trade him for Nash. If they do keep the pick, Tom Wilson is a perfect Philadelphia bully who’ll fit in well with the team’s culture. He’s big, he’s mean, and he’ll happily bodycheck the hell outta Sidney Crosby whenever the Flyers play the Penguins. But again, I have a sneaking suspicion someone else will be drafting here instead of the Flyers.
  1. Buffalo SabresMatt Finn, defenseman. Just like the Capitals, I have the Sabres taking a balanced draft, and with Faska in the fold, they opt for the best defenseman available: Matt Finn. How good is Matt Finn? Good enough to make TSN analyst and former NHL general manager Craig Button rank him better than Ceci, Trouba, Murray, and Grigorenko, among other players. While I don’t think Finn is quite that good, he’s still a real good pick at this point in the draft, and Sabres fans will be happy leaving round 1 with Faska & Finn.
  1. Pittsburgh PenguinsPontus Aberg, forward. The third Swedish forward I have going in this draft, Aberg has speed and skills, and would look great riding shotgun to any of the Pittsburgh centers: Crosby, Malkin, or Staal. As the draft moves on, players as skilled as Aberg get harder and harder to come by, and I’d have to think Pittsburgh takes the chance on a boom-or-bust prospect rather than a safe pick.
  1. Florida PanthersTomas Hertl, forward. After years of terrible seasons and picking high in the draft, it must be comforting for the Panthers to be picking this late. Hertl was the standout player for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships, he can play center or wing, has nice size, and should fit wherever Florida decides to put him. Good value pick at 23.
  1. Boston BruinsDerek Pouliot, defenseman. This draft is just so deep in quality young defenseman, and the Bruins are happy to see someone like Pouliot fall to them. Apart from Zdeno Chara, himself a hulking beast, the Bruins defense is mostly defensive types. Granted, this hard-nose style of hockey won them the Cup last season, but an offensive d-man like Pouliot would fill a noticeable need for the Bruins.
  1. St. Louis BluesLudvig Bystrom, defenseman. St. Louis is another young team that’s particularly stacked in all areas, which gives them the luxury of not really having any needs to address. Although Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk are great, the Blues pick the young Swede Bystrom, in the hopes that he can develop to make a great defense even better. Wouldn’t be shocked if they pick a forward here either – they can truly go after the best player available.
  1. Vancouver CanucksDalton Thrower, defenseman. He’s from Vancouver, he hits like crazy, and he fills a need in the Canucks system. I’m hoping this guy will fall to the 2nd round, but a lot of people seem really excited about this kid, and now I’m pretty sure a team takes him somewhere in the 20s. You gotta love the Vancouver connection – he’d sure be excited to play for his hometown team.
  1. Phoenix CoyotesNicholas Kerdiles, forward. Defense and goalie are pretty much set, making me think Phoenix waits patiently and sees who the best forward available will be. Kerdiles has been steadily rising, and has nice speed for a player his size. Good project player.
  1. New York RangersMartin Frk, forward. Rangers are set in goal, and have enough young defensemen that I think they’ll also go after a project forward. Frk is a very underrated Czech scorer with some motivation issues, but Rangers coach John Tortorella should be able to get the most out of him. If only he could insert a vowel into the guy’s last name.
  1. New Jersey Devils – Andrei Vasilevski, goalie. The top ranked European goalie, because even though Martin Brodeur got them to the Stanley Cup Finals, it looks likely he won’t be back next season. Even if he does stick around, it’s finally time for the Devils to look for options after Brodeur. Another team might take a chance on Vasilevski, especially the Lightning or a team like the Oilers trading up from their 2nd round pick, but the Devils should really look towards goal. Honestly, I believe they should have forfeited this pick, because they’re keeping it they will automatically lose their 1st round pick in the 2013 draft. I sincerely doubt they’ll make the Finals for a second straight year, but choosing to keep their pick shows a commitment by management towards Devils hockey.
  1. Los Angeles KingsBrady Skjei, defenseman. As part of the Jack Johnson trade, Columbus has the option of taking either this pick or the Kings pick in 2013. Unless there’s a player they really like, I think the Blue Jackets will take their chances on the Kings not repeating as cup champions, and getting a better pick in the 2013 draft. As such, Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi are both in their mid-30s, and the American Skjei would be a nice fit with this team moving ahead, considering how many dynamic young forwards they have locked up.


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