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June 28, 2012
NHL Draft Wrap-Up
Atlantic Division

by Corey Pronman


These reviews are not meant to be in-depth player profiles, for those you can find my player reports here. I generally spend time during the year gathering info on players I consider top three round talents or those I think will go in the top three rounds, therefore I do not go in-depth into later round picks.

New Jersey Devils
Player			Position		Selected (HP Rank) 
Stefan Matteau		Left Wing		29th (41st)
Damon Severson		Defense			60th (38th)
Ben Johnson		Center			90th (94th)
Ben Thompson		Left Wing		96th 
Graham Black		Center			135th 
Alex Kerfoot		Right Wing		150th    
Arturs Gavrus		Left Wing		180th (44th)

Day 1: Stefan Matteau is a mean power forward type who skates well and has good puck skills although I only see fringe scoring line upside. Some will point to several incidents this year where it's been written he has some emotional issue. I see those incidents as isolated situations and not a real problem though.

Day 2: I was underwhelmed with Severson at the Under-18's, but for most of the year I've heard and seen generally positive things from him in terms of being a smart, calm puck-mover who is somewhat well-rounded. Johnson was a raw prospect coming from high school to the OHL this season, but steadily improved and flashes some intriguing tools, especially his plus skating ability. How much more of his game will progress and show pro-level ability is the question, but the mid-rounds are where I'd gamble on a project like him. Black is a good skater with an okay enough skill level. He's a second-time draft eligible who I wouldn't say ever looked thoroughly impressive, but just a solid prospect who you hope can be a bottom-six player. I'm a Gavrus fan, and although he's a small player, his plus skating ability and good puck skills are indicators to me of the notable potential he has if he develops well.

Summary: I don't think the Devils got a significantly level of talent and I preferably would have gone for a little more skill at 29, but there are a few guys who have potential to outperform their draft slots. They walked away with several quality pro prospects on draft weekend, so this draft could help stabilize their prospect system depth.

New York Islanders
Player			Position		Selected (HP Rank) 
Griffin Reinhart	Defense			4th (15th)
Ville Pokka		Defense			34th (29th)
Adam Pelech		Defense			65th (92nd)
Lois Leduc		Defense			103rd 
Doyle Somerby		Defense			125th 
Jesse Graham		Defense			155th (115th)
Jake Bischoff		Defense			185th 

Day 1: I'm usually a fan of what the Islanders have been able to do at the draft table the last few years, but I wasn't so crazy about the selection of Griffin Reinhart. Don't get me wrong—I think he's a good prospect, but as someone who rated him 15th, I just don't see the high-end tools to go in the top five. He's very good offensively for a player his size, but to take a defender that high, you need to have several plus if not elite skills and I just don't see that. I see a guy who tops out as a good #3.

Day 2: I never saw Pokka play a bad game this year. He's so smart and just finds ways to consistently make plays. He's a little small and not the best skater, but his skill and especially his hockey sense make him very desirable. Pelech is a player who has performed well defensively wherever he's played this season, but his offensive tools are fringe and I'm not sure I can see that shutdown style translate into more than a third-pairing NHLer. #4 upside is somewhat plausible, but I'm skeptical. Graham was thought of as a possible top-60 pick coming into the season. He's a plus if not bordering elite skater and has offensive tools, but his game has a ton of holes in it.

Summary: This is clearly a long-term draft class, which is what happens when you select all defensemen. I actually thought the Islanders had a strong defense core in their prospect system which clearly just got a huge boost. This draft class could provide good, but not great output, and I wouldn't expect a ton of value relative to draft slot.

New York Rangers
Player			Position		Selected (HP Rank) 
Brady Skjei		Defense			28th (37th)
Cristoval Nieves	Center			59th (58th)
Calle Andersson		Defense			119th (35th)
Thomas Spelling		Left Wing		142nd 

Day 1: Skjei is as good a skater as you will ever find in a defender his size as he's a legit elite skater who can simply dazzle in that aspect. I don't see another element to his game that is truly above average, but that one tool drives a ton of value for him and should carry him to the NHL. It's hard to see him having upside beyond a #4 defender, but I'd say he's a highly projectable pro.

Day 2: Nieves had a chance to go in the first going into the season, but an inconsistent season and really a lack of output considering his level of play left some concerns about him. He's a tremendous talent who is one of the best skaters in this draft class and has offensive creativity. He has a lot of areas to address in his overall game but his tools are a good bet in the range New York got him. Andersson I like more than their first two picks. He's a fine sized defender with above-average puck skills and hockey sense which is a desirable commodity. Spelling has decent size, skates well, and has a big shot but isn't overly gifted in terms of puck possession ability.

Summary: The Rangers only had a few picks but still managed to get a fine amount of talent. Skjei was a bit of a safe first round pick, but they followed it up with a few riskier talent-based picks later on. They can likely get one regular from this draft, and if they get two the Rangers will likely be getting good value.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Player			Position		Selected (HP Rank) 
Derrick Pouliot		Defense			8th (24th)
Olli Maatta		Defense			22nd (21st)
Teodors Blugers		Left Wing		52nd 
Oscars Sundqvist	Center			81st  
Matt Murray		Goaltender		83rd  
Matia Marcantuoni	Center			92nd (79th)
Sean Maguire		Goaltender		113th 
Clark Seymour		Defense			143rd 
Anton Zlobin		Right Wing		173rd (109th)

Day 1: The Pens certainly had an eventful first day. I obviously am not as high on Derrick Pouliot as they are taking him at 8th overall, as I have him 24th. I love his puck moving skills and puck skills, as well as him being a good skater, but I don't see legit high-end tools nor am I fully convinced he'll be able to check tough opponents. Maatta who went 22 was closer to where I had him which was 21. I know some scouts like him a lot more as he's a very smart player at both ends, but he's probably just a slightly above-average offensive guy and his skating still needs work. But with those two players, Dumoulin and Ruopp added to the organization on top of the great defense prospects they already have, Pittsburgh has one of the best foundation of young D in the league.

Day 2: Marcantuoni was seen coming into the season as a for sure first rounder, and possibly even a top-10 pick, but concussion issues and simply okay play lowered his stock significantly. He's a high-end to elite skater who can create offense. He's small so how he can overcome his size and manage not to get hurt anymore and if he can find his game again will be what to watch for him. If the Pens hit though on him he could be good value for them relative to where he was picked. I've been a Zlobin fan since last year where he went undrafted and was kicking myself for putting him only at 109 before the Memorial Cup as now I'd easily have him in my top 100. I've heard good things about Blugers but my lack of notes kept me from profiling him.

Summary: The Pens got a lot of talent into their organization on draft weekend, and I actually like Dumoulin more than anyone they drafted. That being said even though I thought Pouliot was a bit of a reach in the top ten, the Penguins added depth and upside to their pipelines and how their young players come along the next few years will be quite intriguing to watch.

Philadelphia Flyers
Player			Position		Selected (HP Rank) 
Scott Laughton		Center			20th (30th)
Anthony Stolarz		Goaltender		45th
Shayne Gostisbehere	Defense			78th
Fredric Larsson		Defense			111th  
Taylor Leier		Left Wing		117th 
Reece Wilcox		Defense			141st
Valeri Vasiliev		Defense			201st

Day 1: Laughton had a simply okay first half, but was much better after Christmas and put an exclamation point on his draft season with an outstanding performance at the IIHF Under-18's. He's a good skater, with impressive two-way hockey sense and great physical play. I don't buy dazzling offensive skills from him, but still think if his development goes well, he could be a top-six forward. He's the kind of player who just manages to find ways to generate chances and prevent them. He's a fan favorite type and someone who advanced stats guys I think will like.

Day 2: Gostisbehere is a second-year draft eligible player who impressed a lot at Union. He's a little small, but very gifted with the puck and has impressive hockey sense. I didn't rank him due to lack of notes prior to making my rankings but I would put him on there in a re-rank. Vasiliev isn't the typical Russian you draft from overseas as he's a rugged, physical defensive defender with little offensive skill.

Summary: I thought the Flyers did okay. Laughton is a safe first rounder and Gostisbehere is the only really intriguing talent pick on Day 2 in terms of skaters. I probably would have used the Stolarz pick on someone else although he is an intriguing prospect.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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NHL Draft Wrap-Up (06/27)
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NHL Draft Wrap-Up (06/29)
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NHL Draft Wrap-Up (06/29)

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