With the sports world paused due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to take a look back and re-do the first round of several past NHL Entry Drafts. Each article will feature a brief summary of who the team selected at the time, and who we believe they would select now in hindsight.
Part 2 – featuring the class of 2012, is below...
(Note: team needs are not taken into account at the time of selection)
1- Edmonton Oilers: Andrei Vasilevskiy (G, Tolpar Ufa-MHL), Original Selection: Nail Yakupov (F, Sarnia-OHL): The Oilers and their fans would do anything to go back in time and make this switch. Vasilevskiy is currently the best goaltender in the NHL but it's Yakupov's struggles that are the real issue here. The consensus No. 1 overall selection that year, Yakupov had a strong rookie season (31 points in 47 games) before quickly falling by the wayside. He has spent the past two seasons with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. Yakupov's still young enough (26 years old) to get another chance in the NHL, but for now, he is without a doubt one of the biggest draft busts in league history.
2- Columbus Blue Jackets: Filip Forsberg (F, Leksands-Allsvenskan), Original Pick: Ryan Murray (D, Everett-WHL): There are about a half dozen players that I could have made an argument for in this spot. Forsberg originally went 11th overall to Washington before being traded to Nashville for the corpse of Martin Erat. That will also go down as one of the worst decisions in league history. Murray is a perfectly capable stay-at-home defenseman but he's always hurt and offers nothing offensively. He's been on the trade block seemingly forever but is somehow still with the Jackets.
3- Montreal Canadiens: Connor Hellebuyck (G, Odessa-NAHL), Original Pick: Alex Galchenyuk (F, Sarnia-OHL): The Habs have Carey Price so they were never taking a goalie here but Hellebuyck's rise to prominence has been nothing short of amazing. He was drafted out of the North American Hockey League and played two seasons at UMass-Lowell and one in the AHL before taking over as Winnipeg's starter. I remain a believer in Galchenyuk's skill set but his game has been trending in the wrong direction for years. He needs to reset this summer when he hits unrestricted free agency. The 26-year-old winger won't get close to the $4.9 million per year he's currently earning as an UFA.
4- New York Islanders: Morgan Rielly (D, Moose Jaw-WHL), Original Pick: Griffin Reinhart (D, Edmonton-WHL): The Islanders got bailed out by the Oilers (again) when they dealt Reinhart for a first round pick that eventually turned into their best player, Mathew Barzal, but that doesn't excuse the original selection. Reinhart brought size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) to the table and not much else. He ended up going from Edmonton to Vegas in the expansion draft before bolting for Kunlun of the KHL where he posted a whopping zero goals and two helpers in 33 games this season. Rielly, meanwhile, is one of the best power-play quarterbacks in the league.
5- Toronto Maple Leafs: Teuvo Teravainen (F, Jokerit-Liiga), Original Pick: Rielly: The difference between Teravainen and Rielly is minuscule and I could easily see an argument for preferring the former over the later. Teravainen has scored no fewer than 63 points in each of the past three seasons. Of course, the Rielly selection worked out just fine for the Leafs.
6- Anaheim Ducks: Jaccob Slavin (D, Chicago-USHL), Original Pick: Hampus Lindholm (D, Rogle-Allsvenskan): Lindholm is a good player (he's listed just below) and the Ducks surprised many by taking him so high. Even if they didn't take Lindholm, Anaheim wouldn't have selected Slavin, who ended up going 120th overall to Carolina. Slavin is legitimately one of the league's most underrated players. He can do everything and does it all in a quiet, understated manner.
7- Minnesota Wild: Tomas Hertl (F, Slava Prague-Czech), Original Pick: Mathew Dumba (D, Red Deer-WHL): I may have actually kept Dumba in this spot before his disappearing act this season. He had just 24 points in 69 games prior to the stoppage after posting 12 goals and 22 points in 32 games a year ago. There's been trade rumors swirling around Dumba and he seems like an ideal buy-low candidate for another club. Hertl was well on his way to another strong season (16 goals, 36 points in 48 games) before a serious knee injury wiped out the rest of his campaign.
8- Pittsburgh Penguins: Frederik Andersen (G, Frolunda-Sweden), Original Pick: Derrick Pouliot (D, Portland-WHL): Andersen has been one of the league's better goaltenders for years as he's continued to clean up all the defensive mistakes his teammates commit. Pouliot is a former CHL Defenseman of the Year and three-time AHL All-Star but his offensive game has never translated to the NHL level. He also offers little defensively so he isn't of much use if he isn't putting up points.
9- Winnipeg Jets: Jacob Trouba (D, US NTDP-USHL), Original Pick: Trouba: Trouba's turned into a better pro than I predicted. He has a big, big shot from the point and he's a good passer. His defensive game and positioning are inconsistent and he's almost certainly not worth the $8 million a year the Rangers are paying him through 2025-26 but minute-eating, two-way defenders are a rare commodity and Trouba was never signing for a penny less than $7.5 million. It's better to overpay solid players than fringe ones.
10- Tampa Bay Lightning: Tom Wilson (F, Plymouth-OHL), Original Pick: Slater Koekkoek (D, Peterborough-OHL): Lightning fans aren't exactly supporters of Wilson for obvious reasons but he's a better player than Koekkoek. Koekkoek has been banged up for the majority of his career and ineffective when he has been able to suit up. He's a sixth or seventh defenseman at best.
11- Washington Capitals: Colton Parayko (D, Fort McMurray-AJHL), Original Pick: Forsberg: The Caps nailed their original pick only to trade him in a foolish win-now move for Erat. Parayko was viewed as a middling prospect and was drafted out of the Alberta Junior League before playing three seasons at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He's one of those rare players that got considerably better after turning pro.
12- Buffalo Sabres: Dumba, Original Pick: Mikhail Grigorenko (F, Quebec-QMJHL): Grigorenko slid on draft day and the Sabres were happy to snatch him up at No. 12. He never found much success with either Buffalo or Colorado and returned home to Russia for the 2017-18 campaign. Grigorenko found his game in the KHL and is now scheduled to sign a one-year deal with Columbus for next season. He's clearly a more mature player at this point and represents a worthy reclamation project.
13- Dallas Stars: Lindholm, Original Pick: Radek Faksa (F, Kitchener-OHL): Faksa is a respectable third-line center who can fake a top-six role for a short period of time. That's actually a pretty good result for the No. 13 overall selection but a sure-fire,second-pairing defender like Lindholm obviously would have been a better option.
14- Buffalo Sabres: Matt Murray (G, Sault Ste. Marie-OHL), Original Pick: Zemgus Girgensons (F, Dubuque-USHL): Girgensons was a late riser during the draft process and ended up going in the top half of round one. Girgensons decided to immediately sign with Buffalo instead of honoring his commitment to the University of Vermont. He's a useful bottom-six forward with extremely limited offensive capabilities. Murray has won two Stanley Cups, but he's seemingly already lost his No. 1 job to Tristan Jarry despite still being just 25 years of age. Someone will take a chance on Murray if the Pens decide to cut bait given the current state of goaltending around the league.
15- Ottawa Senators: Galchenyuk, Original Pick: Cody Ceci (D, Ottawa-OHL): Galchenyuk at No. 3 overall (where he was actually selected) looks ugly but he would have made for a fine pick at No. 15. Ceci played parts of six seasons with the Sens before being traded to Toronto.
16- Washington Capitals: Esa Lindell (D, Jokerit U20-Finland), Original Pick: Wilson: Lindell would probably be higher on this list if Dallas gave him consistent power-play time. With John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen on board, Lindell can sit back and play a steady two-way game. Of course, the Wilson selection also worked out just fine.
17- San Jose Sharks: Shayne Gostisbehere (D, Union College-NCAA), Original Pick: Hertl: I really don't want to give up on Gostisbehere considering how much talent he has but he needs a trade at this point. His confidence is lacking and the Flyers have enough quality defensemen on their NHL roster and in their prospect pool to hit the reset button.
18- Chicago Blackhawks: Nikita Gusev (F, CSKA Moscow-MHL), Original Pick: Teravainen: The Lightning spent the 202nd overall pick on Gusev and then watched him become a star in the KHL. They were never able to convince him to come to North America and Tampa Bay had no cap space by the time Gusev decided to make the jump to the NHL. He ended up in New Jersey after a quick holdover in Vegas. Teravainen has turned into an excellent player for Carolina since being traded by Chicago in 2016 in order to move Bryan Bickell's contract. Not a great move for the 'Hawks.
19- Tampa Bay Lightning: Erik Gustafsson (D, Djurgardens Jr-Sweden), Original Pick: Vasilevskiy: Tampa had to be patient with Vasilevskiy but they ended up with arguably the NHL's best goalie when all was said and done. The damage Gustafsson does offensively is all but negated by his poor defensive play. However, he's still an asset when deployed with the man advantage and given limited time at even strength.
20- Philadelphia Flyers: Andreas Athanasiou (F, London-OHL), Original Pick: Scott Laughton (F, Oshawa-OHL): Athanasiou is one of the very fastest skaters in the league and it's hard to not get ice time when you move that well. Finishing scoring chances are a struggle for him but he gets an abundance of looks thanks to his foot speed. Laughton is just a solid depth piece for Philadelphia.
21- Calgary Flames: Connor Brown (F, Erie-OHL), Original Pick: Mark Jankowski (F, Stanstead-Quebec HS): Brown doesn't get much credit but he's good for 10-15 goals per season and can kill penalties. He was a big scorer in his junior days but he's more of a two-way guy as a pro. Jankowski appeared to be making strides before potting just five goals in 56 games for Calgary this season.
22- Pittsburgh Penguins: Faksa, Original Pick: Olli Maatta (D, London-OHL): I touched on Faksa above. Maatta was always over hyped as a prospect and has settled in as a third-pairing defenseman. He's the type of rearguard all teams are looking for at the trade deadline each season.
23- Florida Panthers: Josh Anderson (F, London-OHL), Original Pick: Mike Matheson (D, Dubuque-USHL): Anderson has constantly butted heads with Columbus management and it has gotten to the point where he seems almost certain to be dealt before next season. He's also frequently injured, but he's an effective power forward when healthy. Florida signed Matheson to a baffling long-term deal paying him $4.785 million a season and they are already having buyer's remorse.
24- Boston Bruins: Chris Tierney (F, London-OHL), Original Pick: Malcolm Subban (G, Belleville-OHL): Tierney saw bottom-six playing time in San Jose and he's now with Ottawa so his chances to make a name for himself have been limited. Despite that, he's still managed to score no fewer than 37 points in each of the past three seasons. I'd still be intrigued to see what Subban could do with a starter's workload but he's probably nothing more than a serviceable backup.
25- St. Louis Blues: Joonas Korpisalo (G, Jokerit U20-Liiga), Original Pick: Jordan Schmaltz (D, Green Bay-USHL): Korpisalo was well on his way to establishing himself as the No. 1 goalie for Columbus this season before an injury opened the door for Elvis Merzlikins. He's now at risk of getting Wally Pipp'ed. I loved Schmaltz as a prospect but it just hasn't happened for him. He's played 42 career NHL games and hasn't scored a single goal. He was known as an offensive defenseman coming into the draft.
26- Vancouver Canucks: Damon Severson (D, Kelowna-WHL), Original Pick: Brendan Gaunce (F, Belleville-OHL): Severson is overpaid ($4.16 million) and an adventure defensively but he's also tallied at least 31 points in three of the past four seasons. He has his uses. Gaunce has spent most of his career in the AHL. He's now in the Boston system.
27- Phoenix Coyotes: Brady Skjei (D, US NTDP-USHL), Original Pick: Henrik Samuelsson (F, Edmonton-WHL): Skjei is big (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), has a long reach, and he's a well above-average skater. His decision making with the puck can be frighteningly poor at times but he's an NHL regular. Samuelsson was probably the worst pick of the first round. He does plenty of things well but his complete lack of foot speed torpedoed any chance he had of becoming an NHL player.
28- New York Rangers: R. Murray, Original Pick: Skjei: There's not much difference between Murray and Skjei in my mind. Skjei is a bit more dynamic, Murray's a bit more steady. Both are overpaid. I thought Rangers GM Jeff Gorton did an exceptional job to get a first round pick for Skjei at the trade deadline. His contract (5.25 million through 2024-25) is a potential albatross down the line. Skjei has legitimately regressed over the past two seasons.
29- New Jersey Devils: Ceci, Original Pick: Stefan Matteau (F, US NTDP-USHL): Ceci's a regular and that's all you could ask for at this point in the draft. Matteau has had some nice moments with Columbus this season but he has yet to earn a full-time role at the NHL level.
30- Los Angeles Kings: Laughton, Original Pick: Tanner Pearson (F, Barrie-OHL): I wouldn't put up much of an argument if someone prefered Pearson to Laughton here. Pearson has actually had a pretty good career considering he somehow went completely undrafted back in 2011.