This draft class, like any year, has players that you personally root for to get drafted as high as possible. Now, I'm not talking about the high profile players. Perhaps not even the second tier. The guys that you'd just love to see get the opportunity to get drafted.
Michael Houser, in any round.. and both the Rupert Twins to the same team.
Houser is an excellent prospect. I was hoping that Vancouver would sign him last year (he was at Vancouver's camp on a try-out basis). I could definitely see him getting drafted even though central scouting has ranked him pretty low. If he doesn't get drafted he is definitely getting signed as a free agent.
I think this is a hard draft to like. Normally, if I divide prospects into players I particularly like relative to their anticipated draft position, players I question relative to same and players that I'm neither very high on or very critical to on that basis, they tend to come out pretty evenly - about a third in each category. This year, there's really only a small handful of players I like relative to draft position.
In summation, there's a lot of talent, but also a lot of flashing alarms in terms of heuristics. One is that a strikingly high number of the top prospects are Europeans playing in North America. Historically, the record of high european 1st round picks with that background is so very markedly inferior to that of Europeans developing in Europe AND of North Americans that it must certainly be considered a clear risk factor. Considerably more so, you'd think, than the ridiculous "russian factor" that has no actual basis in empirical fact at all, other than Radulov's bolting (which also indicates that you're not any safer with Russian players who play major junior, in that regard). There has NEVER so far been a russian player drafted out of the first round playing in North America who has gone on to make a major impact in the NHL. Not one. Despite quite a few attempts. Maybe Yakupov and Grigorenko willl be the first ones, I'm not saying that's not possible. But I am saying it's a concern, and more than enough to make me unenthusiastic about them as top 3 selections. And there you also have Maatta, Girgensons, Galchenyuk and Faksa.
And there's other things, nearly everyone appears to have something against them, of the wrong kind. Like Forsberg's relatively weak production, which usually hurts top prospects but not him for some reason. Dumba, the issue of wheter he has a style of play that is sustainable in the pros with his size. Trouba, and the nightmare you could see him becoming if his decision-making doesn't develop. Pouliot, toolsy offensive guy lacking in size and decision-making. Gaunce, who just seems to have Chad Kilger/Dan Tkazuk/Eric Nystrom/Jason Ward written all over him (the so-called "safe choice" who is supposed to be a great third line center at a minimum, but who often in actuality is simply a bust or a spare part, and no safe choice at all). Åberg seems a bit too much a north-south guy, Ceci you can question his upside, Hertl who just lacks speed. Of course, there's no such thing as a prospect without weaknesses, but for all of us it's also a little bit about what kind of risk you think is worse. For me, there's just too much of the wrong kind of risk in this draft.
But I do like a few players (again, relative to their projected draft position):
* Ryan Murray. Solid all-around, and I prefer the type of defenseman he is: Cerebral and calm rather than all pumped-up. Seems to me that's the kind of defenseman that ends up anchoring teams and winning Norris trophies, not the PK Subbans or Darius Kasparaitis'es of this world. Haven't seen him very much, but there seem sto be little to dislike.
* Griffin Reinhart, much for the same reasons: My kind of defenseman, obvious potential and nothing that worries me in any major way.
* Teuvo Teravainen. Like Granlund, he seems just too talented to miss and he's following a sensible development route.
* Slater Koekkoek. Seems likely to drop further than he should due to his injuries, and he does seem to have a lot of really great qualities.
A couple of Hon mentions: Anton Slepyshev looks like a really terrific finisher to me, but you'd perhaps lilke to see him move around a bit more. And playing in NA or not, it is hard not to be impressed by Galchenyuk, whom I find more immediately likeable than either Yakupov or Grigorenko (both of whom naturally also are very impressive junior players). He seems to combine some of Yakupov's speed and goal-scoring focus with Grigorenko more subtle sense of positioning? If he drops below 5th-6th, I think he looks like a great pick.
Zemgus Girgensons. "Down to earth" player, shows leadership, great hands, very high compete level, great shot etc. I'm almost 100 percent sure he'll make it to the NHL, if he doesn't become a top-6 player, then he'll be one of the best 3rd liners in the league!
I'm also very high on Nicolas Kerdiles!
From the 3rd round and below: Christoval "Boo" Nieves, but he could go in the 2nd. Otherwise I'm fond of Ian Brady and Miles Koules.
Last edited by SuperAlmeida: 04-29-2012 at 09:34 AM.