The Hockey Independent crew has come together again; this time to piece together a 2012 NHL Mock Draft for your reading pleasure. The contributing authors to today’s piece will be Cris Cohen (New York Rangers), Seth Levin (New Jersey Devils), Alex Muscat (Detroit Red Wings), Bill Philp (Tampa Bay Lightning) and myself, Benjamin Woodward (Boston Bruins). Each of us have taken on the role of armchair general manager for the sake of this feature. All five of us will have the responsibility of making six selections in the draft, taking into account team needs, talent and other factors when making our decisions. We will be releasing the mock draft in six parts, with five selections in each.
Part VI –> 26-30 (Vancouver, Phoenix, New York Rangers, New Jersey, Los Angeles)
Without further ado, here is Part VI of our 2012 NHL Mock Draft……
GM: Bill Philp
Synopsis: In his WHL rookie season, the 6’1”, 190 lbs. center scored 41 points in 63 games and was a team best +15. He is a well-rounded player who leads by example and comes to play every night. Sissons has a big body and possesses great on ice awareness and IQ.
NHL Comparable: Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks)
GM: Alex Muscat
Synopsis: Representing the Czech Republic for the first time in the World Junior Championships, Hertl was tied for the team lead in scoring with three goals and two assists in six games. As an 18-year old playing against the league’s best for Slavia, Hertl fared very well. Having a nose for the net to go along with his playmaking abilities, he uses his size to protect the puck and he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty along the boards either. A concern regarding Hertl is his skating and regardless which team selects him, it is something that they have to work with him on. He has the potential to become a top-six forward in the NHL.
NHL Comparable: Patrik Elias (New Jersey Devils)
GM: Cris Cohen
Synopsis: The Rangers have several players in their fold with NHL bloodlines (Ryan Bourque, Christian Thomas) and Rangers ties (Derek Stepan, Tim Erixon) and while this 18-year-old possesses one of the biggest names in Rangers lore, it’s not why they select him. Matteau possesses size (currently 6’1″, 210 pounds) that is missing from many Rangers prospects and will use it in both offensive and defensive situations. While he’s not going to light the lamp on a regular basis (10 goals in 61 games this season), he’s willing to go to the net and take the punishment to pick up garbage goals. His meanness is both an asset and a liability as he is prone to going overboard and taking bad penalties. He will need to learn how to walk the fine line between playing on the edge effectively and being undisciplined. Rather than attend college at North Dakota, Matteau has opted play in the QMJHL next year to further his development.
NHL Comparable: Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
GM: Seth Levin
Synopsis: The New Jersey Devils are an interesting case in terms of a Mock Draft this season. It is the expectation of most they will forfeit their 2012 selection to complete the penalty in the “KovalGate” contract saga from the summer of 2010. They have to make a selection the day after the Stanley Cup Final ends as to whether or not they choose to forfeit the pick this season, and it is down to either this season or next. If by chance they stay in the first round of the 2012 draft, I think Daniil Zharkov would be a good fit for the Devils. At 6’3” 200 lbs, Zharkov has the size scouts like, and has a lot of skill to match, tantalizing scouts at times with his offensive abilities, both stick-handling and shooting. However, he does have the label of not always being “into the game,” not utilizing his size enough and too often staying to the outside and waiting for the game to come to him, rather than helping to make something happen. He sometimes doesn’t realize how best to utilize his skill set during games. In the end, while Zharkov seems to be a bit of a project, there is a big potential payout if the time is taken to develop him and everything comes together. There definitely is a high risk, high reward feel to any team that picks Zharkov, but it is no doubt the potential high reward of why a team would pull the trigger. He has shown improvement each year in the North American leagues, but needs to develop better hockey sense to team with a good work ethic, which will be the key in determining whether Zharkov becomes a boom or bust. To give you an idea based on fellow Russians of the recent past, Zharkov could become anywhere from the next game breaker (Alexei Kovalev?), or the next big disappointment (Viktor Kozlov?). I think if the Devils draft Zharkov, they would give him the time he would need to develop and he could be a fine addition to the Devils’ forward prospects, especially to offset some of their current prospects up front that might be undersized such as Mattias Tedenby or even Jacob Josefson.
NHL Comparable: Alex Semin (Washington Capitals)
GM: Benjamin Woodward
Synopsis: What can I say here, folks? The rich continue to get richer. Fresh off the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history, the Los Angeles Kings get the chance to add yet another high-end talent to their already absurdly deep pool of prospects. General Manager Dean Lombardi (Ludlow, MA) will be delighted to find speedy winger Pontus Aberg fall into his lap at the end of the first round. Aberg may, in fact, be the most well-rounded player in this year’s draft class. His otherworldly speed and nose for the net allow him the potential to become a thirty-plus goal scorer at the NHL level. Along with his excellent offensive upside, the six-foot Swede also possesses a grinding element to his game, that would allow him to fit in nicely on the third line for a team as deep as the Kings.
NHL Comparable: Thomas Vanek (Buffalo Sabres)
Filed Under: Eastern Conference • Featured • Los Angeles Kings • New Jersey Devils • New York Rangers • NHL • NHL Teams • Phoenix Coyotes • Prospects • Rumors • Satire • Vancouver Canucks • Western Conference
About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.