Despite the Columbus Blue Jackets finishing with the league's worst record, the Oilers won the draft lottery and hold the No. 1 overall pick for the third straight year.
The phrase "Fail for Nail" sprouted up during this past season for a reason. Sarnia Sting winger Nail Yakupov has been the wire to wire favorite to be the first player taken in this year's draft. And even though Edmonton has drafted forwards Tyler Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov is still the favorite to hear his name called first.
Everett defenseman Ryan Murray has also crawled his way up draft boards, but he has to fight through talented forwards Mikhail Grigorenko and Filip Forsberg to be a top three pick at the end of June.
Below, check out predictions for every first-round pick.
1. Edmonton Oilers — Nail Yakupov, Winger, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Yakupov is the runaway favorite to be selected first overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft. The Russian-born winger has been terrorizing the OHL since entering the league last season. Yakupov is a special player with insane offensive skills. Speed, vision and shooting are among his many outstanding attributes. For a rebuilding team like the Oilers, drafting the best available player is the way to go, regardless of the need for defense. If they really want to address the blue line, trading the pick and getting some value would be wise.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets — Filip Forsberg, Winger, Leksands (SWE)
Mikhail Grigorenko was pushing to be the top player drafted at times this season, but his stock has dropped a bit due to questions about his work ethic. The Blue Jackets miss out on Yakupov after some terrible luck at the lottery, but Filip Forsberg is the best European skater in the draft and a nice consolation prize.
3. Montreal Canadiens — Mikhail Grigorenko, Center, Quebec Ramparts (QMJHL)
The Canadiens should be doing backflips if Grigorenko is available at No. 3 overall. At 6-foot-2, Grigorenko has the size to match his incredible offensive ability. He also has added value as the best center in the draft. This pick is a no-brainer.
4. New York Islanders — Ryan Murray, Defenseman, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Ryan Murray also has a real chance to be taken No. 1 by Edmonton. He rebounded after a slow start to the season, and the Islanders would love to add some organizational depth on defense.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs — Alex Galchenyuk, Center, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke isn't afraid to take a risk, so he will have no problem taking a chance on the talented Alex Galchenyuk, who suffered a torn ACL back in October but has since returned to the ice. Perhaps he could be the answer for Toronto at center.
6. Anaheim Ducks — Morgan Rielly, Defenseman, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Morgan Rielly is the ideal power play quarterback. He handles the puck as well as any defenseman in this class and has tons of vision on the rush.The Ducks still need help on the back end in the worst way.
7. Minnesota Wild — Jacob Trouba, Defenseman, United States U-18 (USHL)
The Minnesota Wild don't shy away from American-born propsects, and Jacob Trouba is a good one. He has the poise, positioning and defensive awareness that is rare from a 17-year-old. Trouba is a strong passer but doesn't have the offensive game that some of the other d-men in this class possess.
8. Carolina Hurricanes — Griffin Reinhart, Defenseman, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Griffin Reinhart has all of the tools. At 6-foot-4, Reinhart has plenty of size to go with his offensive skill.
9. Winnipeg Jets — Mathew Dumba, Defenseman, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
The run on defense continues with Mathew Dumba, who is an exciting player to watch. He's a big risk-taker and loves to throw his weight around on defense. His shot from the point is a laser, and he is an excellent skater. Dumba is also a great leader.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning — Cody Ceci, Defenseman, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
Cody Ceci's draft stock is on the rise after the talented rearguard put together an incredible 2011-12 campaign in Ottawa. Ceci was one of few draft-eligible players invited to play with Canada at the World Juniors.
11. Washington Capitals (via Colorado Avalanche) — Teuvo Teravainen, Winger, Jokerit (FIN)
A dynamic offensive playmaker, Teuvo Teravainen will be exactly what the Washington Capitals are looking for.
12. Buffalo Sabres — Zemgus Girgensons, Center, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
Committed to the University of Vermont for 2012, Zemgus Girgensons displays great instincts in the offensive zone. Girgensons stood out at the World Junior Championship on an overmatched Latvia team.
13. Dallas Stars — Hampus Lindholm, Defenseman, Rogle (SWE)
The Dallas Stars drafted Jamie Oleksiak last year, but Hampus Lindholm is a great value at this spot, and depth is important on defense.
14. Calgary Flames — Sebastian Collberg, Winger, Frolunda (SWE)
Sebastian Collberg thrives on speed. The Swedish winger has an excellent shot that he is not afraid to let go from all over the ice. If he had a more well-rounded game, he may crack the top 10. The Flames need help all over the ice.
15. Ottawa Senators — Brendan Gaunce, Center, Belleville Bulls (OHL)
The Senators were a surprising team in the Eastern Conference this season, and their system is ripe with young talent. Add Brendan Gaunce, a productive center, to the mix, and Ottawa could be an elite offensive team down the road.
16. Washington Capitals — Oli Maatta, Defenseman, London Knights (OHL)
The first overall pick in the 2011 CHL Import Draft, Olli Maatta has come from Finland and done a fine job with the London Knights. He is well polished in his own end and produces well on offense thanks to his passing ability. Maata struggled mightily at the World Juniors but should still be a first-round pick.
17. San Jose Sharks — Pontus Aberg, Winger, Djurgarden (SWE)
Pontus Aberg has the skating ability to be a top 10 selection in the 2012 NHL draft. But concerns about his consistency and defensive abilities have caused him to drop a bit.
18. Chicago Blackhawks — Andreie Vasilevksi, Goalie, Russia
Standing at 6-foot-4, Andrei Vasilevksi is the most highly regarded goaltending prospect available in the 2012 NHL draft. This may come as a surprise after a somewhat disappointing showing at the World Juniors, but scouts are still very high on the Russian goalie.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (via Detroit Red Wings) — Malcolm Subban, Goalie, Belleville Bulls (OHL)
Malcolm Subban is the second goaltender to crack the top 20 and could end up being the first goalie off the board. The Rexdale, Ontario, native posted a 2.50 goals against average and a .923 save percentage this season.
20. Philadelphia Flyers — Slater Koekkoek, Defenseman, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
The most impressive aspect of Slater Koekkoek's game is his ability to consistently play sound defense despite logging tons of minutes. That's the sort of thing scouts love to see. He is as smart as he is poised in his own end. Philly needs to add some talent on defense with Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen aging.
21. Buffalo Sabres (via Nashville Predators) — Matt Finn, Defenseman, Guelph Storm (OHL)
After going offense with their first pick, the Sabres draft defense with their second first-rounder. Matt Finn is a well-rounded rearguard who may need some time to develop before making an impact in the NHL.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins — Radek Faksa, Center, Kitchener (OHL)
The Penguins are already stacked at center, but adding a player of Radek Faksa's caliber never hurt anyone.
23. Florida Panthers — Brady Skjei, Defenseman, United States U-18 (USHL)
The Panthers had a tremendous season, but the rebuilding effort is far from complete. Brady Skjei is a good value and fills a need for organizational depth on the blue line.
24. Boston Bruins — Tom Wilson, Winger, Plymouth Whalers (WHL)
Tom Wilson seems destined to be a Boston Bruin. The 6-foot-4 winger plays a physical style that will make him an instant fan favorite in the Hub of Hockey. Without too many needs, the Bruins have the luxury of drafting for value, and Wilson would be a perfect organizational fit.
25. St. Louis Blues — Tomas Hertl, Winger, Slavia (CZE)
Tomas Hertl provides more offensive skill for a team that could definitely use it.
26. Vancouver Canucks — Derrick Pouliot, Defenseman, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Boasting one of the worst prospect pools in all of hockey, the Vancouver Canucks need to add talent at any position.
27. Phoenix Coyotes — Jarrod Maidens – Center, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Best known for his game-winning goal in last year’s Memorial Cup, Jarrod Maidens is a hard working center with a strong two-way game. He has also improved his offensive output this season, averaging just under a point per game.
28. New York Rangers — Stefan Matteau, Winger, United States U-18 (USHL)
Stefan Matteau is a scorer with an edge. He racked up over a hundred penalty minutes this season, all while improving exponentially as an offensive player, leading his team in points. He’s the type of guy the Rangers always seem to target.
29. New Jersey Devils — Oscar Dansk, Goalie, Sweden
It's no secret that Martin Brodeur needs to be replaced in the near future.
30. Los Angeles Kings –Andreas Athanasiou, Forward, London Knights (OHL)
Andreas Athanasiou is a flashy playmaker up front. He'll have to refine his all-around game at the next level, but his offensive upside makes him a fringe first-round prospect.
Thumbnail via Facebook/Nail Yakupov
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