|2012 NHL Mock Draft -- First Round|
|When the Buffalo Sabres were able to pry a first rounder out of Nashville for Paul Gaustad at the trade deadline, that told you pretty much all you needed to know about this draft class. It's not that strong, buddy. Historically bad? No, but most of the prospects below come with enough question marks to fashion their own Riddler costumes. And that's what sets this up as one of the most compelling drafts in years. "It's a year when all 30 teams are going to have different top-10 lists," Montreal Canadiens scouting guru Trevor Timmins told a group of reporters."There's no set order amongst scouts. It's going to be fun and exciting for the fans to watch the draft because, who's No. 1? Nobody knows except the team that's drafting."|
That's not exactly true. There's no mystery to No. 1. It'll be Nail Yakupov, the dazzling sniper from Sarnia. Which team takes him? That remains up in the air. After that, it's going to come down to the hunches -- and best guesses -- of each team's head scout. So many of the top players this year spent extended periods on injured reserve that teams have to do more projecting based on fewer viewings. Other hopefuls have glaring deficiencies in one area -- size, skating, finishing touch -- that forces teams to hold their noses while they swing for the fences.
"Everything is about tempering expectations" a scout told me. "There are going to be some players [that come out of this class], but a lot of these kids would have been second-round [picks] last year, or next year. It's a really tough year to accurately judge [some of] the talent. You just hope you're not the guy who argued against [drafting] the kid who turns out to be a star."
It's a tough year for mock drafts, too, but we're having fun, right? Here's my take on how Friday's first round will unfold, based on best player available, team drafting history, needs, opportunities and other mysterious factors (alright, what my gut says). As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.