Mock Draft 2012: Picks 21-30
My annual mock draft kicks-off today with picks 21-30. Enjoy.
21. BUFFALO SABRES (From Nashville) - Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville (OHL)
Analysis: The Sabres are said to be one of the busiest teams, working the phones looking to improve their team after a disappointing season where they missed the post-season. Having two picks in the first round (this pick coming in the Paul Gaustad deal), could be a key piece in adding a top-6 forward. If the Sabres end up picking at 21, grabbing a potential top-6 forward for down the road will be important and Gaunce is their man. Gaunce, the first Canadian forward taken in my mock draft, has top offensive skill, who uses his body to protect the puck and take it to the net. Brendan's older brother, Cameron is a Colorado draft pick ('08, 50th overall).
22. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS - Thomas Wilson, LW, Plymouth (OHL)
Analysis: The Penguins hunt for wingers to play alongside their trio of elite centers continues as past draft picks haven’t yet been able to take the next step. Wilson, who at 6-4’, 203, has said to be the type of player who goes to the dirty areas and creates space for his teammates around him. Along with those skill sets, Wilson has the ability to put the puck in the net in tight areas. Wilson also isn’t afraid to drop the mitts if called upon.
23. FLORIDA PANTHERS - Stefan Matteau, LW, U.S. NTDP
Analysis: One of the biggest surprises last season, the Panthers won their first Southeast division title and with the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, Jacob Markstrom and Nick Bjugstad all on the cusp on making the jump, the Panthers’ future looks bright. Matteau, son of former-NHLer Stephane Matteau, loves the physical side of the game, playing on the edge with lots of energy. Matteau is said to be your prototypical power forward.
24. BOSTON BRUINS - Matthew Finn, D, Guelph (OHL)
Analysis: The Bruins are another team that could use a prospect between the pipes for down the road, but with Subban and Vasilevski already off the board, the Bruins will look elsewhere with their 1st round selection. Wreaking the benefits from the Phil Kessel trade with Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, the Bruins young prospects look pretty good. Adding Finn with the 24th pick will add a good mix of power play prowess, physicality and character. Finn also has good leadership characteristics.
25. ST. LOUIS BLUES - Brady Skjei, D, U.S. NTDP
Analysis: Even after a disappointing 2nd round sweep to the Kings, the Blues had a breakout season and with their young core, have a very bright future. Looking at the Blues depth chart, they are very deep at every position, possibly missing just an elite top-6 forward. With Jaden Schwartz making the jump to the NHL late last season and the recent signing of top prospect Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues could look towards the drafts deep crop of blue-liners and select Skjei at number 25. Skjei has said to be the best skating defensemen in the draft and at 6-3’, those kind of defensemen aren’t easy to find. Skjei needs to use his size better but that will come as he moves to the next level.
26. VANCOUVER CANUCKS - Dalton Thrower, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
Analysis: It was another disappointing end to a President Trophy season for the Canucks as they simply couldn’t handle the size and toughness of the Kings in the first round. I’m not a Canucks fan but if there is something they’re missing it’s definitely toughness. I liked their acquisition of Zach Kassian at the deadline last year and bringing in Thrower for their back-end won’t only add more toughness but also some character. Thrower was paired with Colorado’s 2011 first rounder, Duncan Siemens all season in Saskatoon shutting down opponent’s top forwards.
27. PHOENIX COYOTES - Cristoval Nieves, C, Kent High (USHS)
Analysis: What a season for the Yotes as they not only got out of the first round for the first time in franchise history but also made it to the Western Conference finals. Add a potential new owner and things are looking up in Glendale. Former first round picks, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Mikkel Boedker both showed huge upside during the Coyotes playoff run but skill up front was an issue. Nieves, whose goes by Boo, is a risk as a first round pick but has said to have an extremely high ceiling. Nieves is pure skill and pure offense, something the Coyotes desperately need.
28. NEW YORK RANGERS - Nicolas Kerdiles, LW, U.S. NTDP
Analysis: Whether the Rangers end up making this pick is yet to be seen with rumors swirling that Glen Sather is unquestionably going hard after Rick Nash. The Rangers showed off their young defensemen during their playoff run and with Tim Erixon and Dylan McIlrath also ready to take the next step, the Rangers focus should be up front. Kerdiles, another player to come from the U.S. National Team Development Program, is your prototypical power forward. Consistency has been an issue for Kerdiles but he knows how to use his speed and size to his advantage.
29. NEW JERSEY DEVILS - Tomas Hertl, C, Slavia (Cze.)
Analysis: Ageless Martin Brodeur once again showed why he is one of the best to ever play, guiding the Devils to two wins of a Stanley Cup championship at the age of 40. Every year, questions surround Brodeur’s predecessor but with Malcolm Subban and Andrei Vasilevski already off the board, the Devils could look at adding some skill up front with the 29th overall selection. Hertl fits the bill after an impressive showing at the WJC. Hertl played against men at home in the Czech Republic and didn’t look out of place. His on-ice awareness and ability to make plays has him projected as a playmaking center. The Devils could also forfeit the pick as punishment for circumventing the CBA while trying to sign Ilya Kovalchuk.
30. LOS ANGELES KINGS - Martin Frk, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)
Analysis: The Stanley Cup champs are on top of the world after dominating their way through the playoffs and the franchise’s first Cup in their 45 year history. The Kings have a young core, which after they surely lock up Jonathan Quick, won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Looking past that, the cupboards aren’t entirely stocked with a lack of skill being the glaring hole. Frk, who at the was a top ten selection at this time last year, had a disappointing season but is projected to be a high skilled, goal scoring winger. Frk needs to work on his skating but goal scoring is something you can’t teach.
Stay tuned to TCL West tomorrow for picks 11-20 and Thursday for picks 1-10. This is one of my favourite times of the year and I can't wait for things to get started on Friday.
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