At least four players selected in the first round of the 2012 draft wouldn't hold that distinction if the selection process were to be re-held today, almost two years after the fact. So it stands to reason four prospects drafted in the second and third rounds would be first-rounders today.
That's the conclusion we drew based on the feedback received from a panel of 17 NHL scouts, who helped us in our annual Future Watch issue. We asked the committee to rank the top 50 NHL-affiliated prospects based on a long-term upside. Jonathan Drouin, selected third overall by Tampa Bay in 2013, finished first and graced our cover.
Using the voting results from our top 50 list, we re-ordered the 2013 draft if it were to happen again now and saw Buffalo's Nikita Zadorov, Detroit's Anthony Mantha, Washington's Andre Burakovsky and Montreal's Jacob de la Rose and Zach Fucale as the biggest risers. That appeared on thn.com Monday.
As pointed out, this re-drafting is all hypothetical and based on the opinions of our scouting committee – not more than one scout per NHL team. It doesn't take into account individual team preferences. So Darnell Nurse falling 10 spots from No. 7 to 17 shouldn't be construed as Edmonton not liking him as much or him having a so-so season. It just means other prospects have surged higher in the eyes of our scouting committee.
Today, we're doing the same thing with prospects from the 2012 draft. Eleven of them taken in the first round are now classified as NHLers and for the sake of simplicity occupy the first 11 spots on the re-drafting of our 2012 first round. They are Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk, Morgan Reilly, Hampus Lindholm, Jacob Trouba, Zemgus Girgensons, Cody Ceci, Thomas Wilson, Tomas Hertl and Olli Maatta.
Our scouting panel had the next 19 prospects from the 2012 draft ranked the highest on our Future Watch top 50 list. Here's how a re-drafting might unfold.
1-11. Eleven NHLers
12. Teuvo Teravainen, LW (actually taken 18th by Chicago)
13. Filip Forsberg, RW, (taken 11th by Washington, then traded to Nashville)
14. Griffin Reinhart, D (taken 4th by N.Y. Islanders)
15. Andrey Vasilevskiy, G (taken 19th by Tampa Bay)
16. Scott Laughton, C (taken 20th by Philadelphia)
17. Derrick Pouliot, D (taken 8th by Pittsburgh)
18. Michael Matheson, D (taken 23rd by Florida)
19. Malcolm Subban, G (taken 24th by Boston)
20. Mathew Dumba, D (taken 7th by Minnesota)
21. Stefan Matteau, C (taken 29th by New Jersey)
22. Mikhail Grigorenko, C (taken 12th by Buffalo)
23. Oscar Dansk, G (taken 31st by Columbus)
24. Henrik Samuelsson, C (taken 27th by Phoenix)
25. Tanner Pearson, LW (taken 30th by Los Angeles)
26. Colton Sissons, C (taken 50th by Nashville)
27. Damon Severson, D (taken 60th by New Jersey)
28. Slater Koekkoek, D (taken 10th by Tampa Bay)
29. Brady Skjei, D (taken 28th by N.Y. Rangers)
30. Jon Gillies, G (taken 75th by Calgary)
So 2012 actual first-rounders who wouldn’t go in the first round if it were re-held today are: 13. Radek Faksa, C, Dallas; 21. Mark Jankowski, C, Calgary; 25. Jordan Schmaltz, D, St. Louis; 26. Brendan Gaunce, C, Vancouver.
Again, we're not suggesting these four first-rounders are flops or won't eventually evolve into quality NHLers. It's just that their progression has been slower than some players drafted after them. It's the same thing with early first-rounders who dropped to the back half of the first round. Reinhart, Pouliot, Dumba, Grigorenko and Koekkoek may not goes as high today as they did June 22, 2012, but expectations are still solid for them.
Prospects moving up into the first round are Dansk, Sissons, Severson and Gillies.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN