The 2012 NHL Entry Draft took place on June 29-30 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The draft weekend also coincided with a series of major thunderstorms that affected a large area throughout North America. The extreme weather event became known as the June 2012 Mid-Atlantic and Midwest Derecho, one of deadliest and most destructive thunderstorm complexes in North American history. The storm affected the midwestern United States and the Appalachian and the mid-Atlantic regions. It caused wide-spread property damage and numerous power outages.
Perhaps the destructive weather that weekend was symbolic of how the 2012 draft turned out, given the drafting and development missteps that took place regarding the players chosen in the first round. In this post we examine the fate of the players drafted in the first round of the “Derecho Draft” of 2012.
The top two forwards in the draft were a pair of forwards on the Sarnia Sting junior hockey team with Russian heritage: Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk, the former a winger from Tartarastan, Russian and the latter a center born in the United States of Belarussian parents who had lived in Russia for a few years.
Another top forward was a Swede named Filip Forsberg, who was considered to be the best European skater. There was also the perception that there was more talent on defense than talent in forwards available in that draft.
The first three picks ultimately went as follows: Yakupov, defenseman Ryan Murray, and Galchenyuk; all three players ultimately disappointed. After that, seven defensemen were taken, leaving the best European skater to fall all the way to 11th overall. The results varied, from busts to stalwart defensemen who still remain with their original team.
Photo: Canadian Hockey League
For the first round as a whole, disappointment was a common theme for a variety of reasons, including players who were busts, players who started off their careers well but then faded, players whose careers did not live up to expectations based on their draft slot, players set back by injury issues, players who bloomed relatively late, and players who developed well but not for the team that originally selected them.
Pick #1 – Nail Yakupov/Right Wing – Edmonton Oilers
Prior to the draft, Yakupov, who played wing for the Sarnia Sting in junior hockey, was considered to be a highly-skilled forward and was regarded as the best forward available in the draft. He had a good rookie year in the shortened season of 2012-13, during which he scored 17 goals and had 14 assists in just 48 games. His next season (2013-14), was not as productive, seeing him tally 11 goals and 13 assists in 63 games.
He got off to a poor start in goal scoring, in addition to the Oilers having brought in a new Head Coach in Dallas Eakins, who benched the young forward often due to defensive deficiencies. Ultimately, he lasted just four seasons with the Oilers and was traded to the St. Louis Blues before the 2016-17 season. His last year in the NHL was 2017-18, with the Colorado Avalanche. Since that season, he has played in the KHL.
Pick #2 – Ryan Murray/Defenseman – Columbus Blue Jackets
Prior to the draft, Murray was rated second among all North American skaters available in the draft. He injured his shoulder early in the 2012-13 season while playing junior hockey and was out for the remainder of the season. He debuted in the NHL during 2013-14 season. The second overall selection missed a significant number of games during his tenure with the Blue Jackets due to injury, including a knee injury, a high ankle sprain, a broken hand, and a back injury.
He played in just 12 games during the 2014-15 season. While he played in all games during the 2015-16 season, in most seasons, he missed at least 15 games. Despite his draft pedigree, he was generally used on the third pairing at the end of his time with Columbus, and on occasion was a healthy scratch, and perceived as having little offensive upside. He was traded to the New Jersey Devils prior to the 2020-21 season, with whom the same tendencies have persisted and he has seen time as a healthy scratch.
Pick #3 – Alex Galchenyuk/Center – Montreal Canadiens
Prior to the draft, Galchenyuk was a highly regarded player. He and Yakupov were a 1-2 punch with the Sarnia Sting. However, Galchenyuk injured his knee and missed most of the 2011-12 season, making it a question on how high he would be selected. During 2013-14, he played with the Canadiens as soon as the lockout of 2012-13 ended, and played with them until the 2017-18 season.
He was productive on the scoring front but was considered poor, defensively. Additionally, Montreal could not decide on a set position for their third overall pick, as he played games at both center and wing positions. He was traded to the Arizona Coyotes after the 2017-18 offseason. Since that trade, he has become a proverbial gypsy, playing only one season with the Coyotes. During the 2020-21 season, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, starting with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, but eventually being recalled by the Maple Leafs, where he became a regular in their lineup for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.
Pick #4 – Griffin Reinhart/Defenseman – New York Islanders
Reinhart first played with the Islanders in 2014-15 for just eight games, before being sent to the minors. He was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for their 2015 first-round pick and their 2015 second-round pick. He played just 29 games for the Oilers in 2015-16 before being sent to the Oilers’ AHL team. He played in one playoff game for the Oilers in the 2017 postseason after spending most of that season in the AHL. That lone playoff game proved to be his last NHL contest.
After the 2017 playoffs, Reinhart played in the KHL and the German League. He was truly a bust as an NHL player, with no full seasons in the NHL. The Islanders missed out on choosing standout defensemen such as Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Jacob Trouba, and Matt Dumba, or could have had forward Filip Forsberg.
Pick #5 – Morgan Rielly/Defenseman – Toronto Maple Leafs
Rielly made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and has developed into a very good offensive defenseman, scoring 20 goals and recording 52 assists during the 2018-19 season and 59 goals with 246 assists during his career. For most of his career, he has generally played over 70 games a season but missed time during the 2019-20 season with a fractured foot. He has been an important part of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rise to contention.
Pick #6 – Hampus Lindholm/Defenseman – Anaheim Ducks
Lindholm made his debut during the 2013-14 season with the Anaheim Ducks and has been with the team ever since. He is considered to be an excellent two-way defenseman who is excellent at passing the puck. He missed six weeks during the 2020-21 season with a fractured wrist.
Pick #7 – Matt Dumba/Defenseman – Minnesota Wild
Dumba made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 season but was sent back to his junior hockey team. In 2014-15, he played 20 games with the Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild, but played 58 games with the Minnesota Wild. Since that time, he has been a stalwart on the Wild blueline. He enjoyed a breakout year in 2015-16 and developed into a very good offensive defenseman. He missed a significant number of games during both the 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons due to injuries.
Pick #8 – Derrick Pouliot/Defenseman – Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins acquired the eighth pick overall in a deal they made with the Carolina Hurricanes in which they traded away Jordan Staal. Pouliot made his NHL debut during the 2014-15 season but played nearly half his games that year with the Pens’ AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. For the next two seasons, he played more games with Wilkes-Barre than with Pittsburgh.
The Penguins traded him to the Vancouver Canucks before the 2017-18 season, with whom he played in 71 games that season, and 62 games for the Canucks in 2018-19. The Canucks chose not to give him a qualifying offer after the season, making him an unrestricted free agent. Pouliot subsequently signed with the St. Louis Blues for the 2019-20 season, which he spent most of in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage. He signed a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers for 2020-21, playing with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He has not been able to find a consistent role in the NHL.
Pick #9 – Jacob Trouba/Defenseman – Winnipeg Jets
Trouba was a regular with the Jets for many years but was traded to the New York Rangers prior to the 2019-20 season, as he and the Jets could not come to an agreement on a long-term deal. In prior years, he had requested a trade and was not happy with his role in Winnipeg. In addition, there were reports of him requesting a trade to a team in the USA, as his wife was in medical school and it was easier to get residencies in the USA than in Canada. He missed time during the 2020-21 due to a concussion.
Photo: NY Post
Pick #10 – Slater Koekkoek/Defenseman – Tampa Bay Lightning
The 10th overall pick in 2012, Koekkoek remained in the Lightning organization through the 2018-19 season, but could never gain a permanent role with the talent-laden Bolts. As a result, he bounced between the Lightning and their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.
The Lightning traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks early in the 2018-19 season, after which he signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent during the summer of 2019. He started off the season as a member of the Oilers’ taxi squad but ultimately earned a role, before breaking his collarbone and missing time.
Pick #11 – Filip Forsberg/Left Wing – Washington Capitals
Forsberg unexpectedly fell to the Caps in the draft as the seven teams picking immediately ahead of the Caps all opted to choose a defenseman, despite the fact that Forsberg was rated as the best European skater among potential draftees. However, the Caps mismanaged him as an asset, trading him to the Nashville Predators for an aging forward, Martin Erat, and a marginal prospect, Michael Latta.
The trade failed even more for the Capitals than was anticipated by then-General Manager George McPhee, as Erat injured his wrist in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, was misused by then-Head Coach Adam Oates for most of the 2013-14 season, and proved ineffective. Erat was ultimately traded to the then-Phoenix (now-Arizona) Coyotes at the 2013-14 trade deadline. Meanwhile Forsberg, as expected, became a star for Nashville. He became a full-time member of Nashville’s lineup during the 2014-15 season and is now first in goals, third in assists, and first in overall points among players chosen in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. This particular trade is rated as one of the worst in the history of the Capitals’ franchise.
Photo: Associated Press
Pick #12 – Mikhail Grigorenko/Center – Buffalo Sabres
Grigorenko was unable to earn a full-time spot with Buffalo and was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in a deal involving Center Ryan O’Reilly after the 2014-15 season. He played two seasons with the Avalanche, mostly on the fourth-line during his first season there. As he did not produce enough offense for a Top 6 role and did not have enough physicality for a bottom-six role, the Avalanche chose not to tender him a contract offer and he became an unrestricted free agent after the 2016-17 season.
He played in the KHL for the next three seasons but returned to the NHL for the 2020-21 season, playing with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He struggled to find his offensive game and ended up being a frequent healthy scratch towards the end of the season. He returned to his former team in Russia for the 2021-22 season, signing a three-year deal.
Pick #13 – Radek Faksa/Center – Dallas Stars
Faksa did not become a full-time NHL player until the 2016-17 season. Prior to that, he seemed to jump back and forth between the Stars, his junior hockey team, and their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. He plays on both the power play and the penalty kill and is regarded as a good checking line center who plays against opponents’ top players.
Pick #14 – Zemgus Girgensons/Center – Buffalo Sabres
The selection of Girgensons marked the earliest selection in the NHL draft of a Latvian player. His best season was his second full season with the Sabres in 2014-15, in which he had 15 goals and 15 assists, both career bests. That same season, he was a runaway leader for players in All-Star Game votes received from fans, primarily fueled by Latvian fans. He had his second-highest goals total during the 2019-20 season, but missed the 2020-21 season due to a hamstring injury he received in training camp that required surgery.
Pick #15 – Cody Ceci/Defenseman – Ottawa Senators
Ceci made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 season and played 27 games for the Senators. He became a full-time NHL player in 2013-14 and played with the Senators through the 2018-19 season. After that, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He then signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the 2020-21 season.
Pick #16 – Tom Wilson/Right Wing – Washington Capitals
When choosing Wilson, the Capitals were hoping he could become a physical presence in the mold of Milan Lucic. After appearing for the Caps during the 2013 playoffs, he became a full-time member of the team during the 2013-14 season, albeit in a fourth-line role, leading the team in penalty minutes. He was used primarily as a fourth-line player for a few years, which hampered his development for the role the Caps had envisioned, but eventually became a part of the Capitals’ penalty killing unit.
During the 2017-18 season, he was part of the Capitals’ top line and was in the role when the Caps won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Despite a long suspension to start his 2018-19 season, he scored 20 goals and duplicated that feat in 2019-20. He has now established himself among the Capitals’ Top 6 forwards. However, until he had earned a Top 6 role, his development path was lamentable.
Pick #17 – Tomas Hertl/Center – San Jose Sharks
Hertl has been a very productive forward for the Sharks since earning a full-time role with the team during the 2013-14 season. During his eight seasons with the Sharks, he has topped 30 goals one time and topped 20 goals three times. The main issue during his career has been staying healthy. He had a knee injury during the 2013-14 season and more injuries during the 2016-17 and 2019-20 seasons.
Pick #18 – Teuvo Teravainen/Left Wing – Chicago Blackhawks
Teravainen played two partial seasons with the Blackhawks and earned a full-time role with them during the 2015-16 season. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes after that season and has been with the Hurricanes ever since. He has topped 20 goals in two of his last five seasons and has scored at least 15 goals in four of five seasons. He missed time during the 2020-21 season due to a concussion and contracting the coronavirus.
Pick #19 – Andrei Vasilevskiy/Goaltender – Tampa Bay Lightning
Vasilevskiy debuted during the 2014-15 season and divided his time between the Lightning and their AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch for the next two seasons. He became a full-time member of the Lightning for the 2016-17 season and has been their number one goalie ever since, backstopping the team to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2020 and 2021.
He won the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender for the 2018-19 season and was a finalist for the 2020-21 season and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Pick #20 – Scott Laughton/Center – Philadelphia Flyers
Laughton debuted with the Flyers during the 2013-14 season and played just under half that season for them. He had a full-time role with the team during the 2014-15 season but returned to the AHL in 2015-16. Since 2016-17 he has been a prominent member of the club’s lineup. He has generally played the role of third or fourth-line center for the Flyers and has been part of the penalty killing unit.
Pick #21 – Mark Jankowski/Center – Calgary Flames
Jankowski debuted with the Flames for one game during the 2016-17 season before finally making it to the NHL for good in the 2017-18 season, scoring 17 goals. He recorded 14 goals during the 2018-19 season, but was then limited to a fourth-line role for the 2019-20 season. The Flames did not give him a qualifying offer after the season, making him an unrestricted free agent. He then signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins for 2020-21.
Pick #22 – Olli Maatta/Defenseman – Pittsburgh Penguins
Maatta played for the Penguins in a full-time role starting in 2013-14 and played with them through the 2018-19 season. During his tenure with the Penguins, he dealt with many health issues including thyroid cancer, a shoulder injury, and a hand injury. The Penguins traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks after the 2018-19 season. The Blackhawks traded him to the Los Angeles Kings prior to the 2020-21 season.
Pick #23 – Mike Matheson/Defenseman – Florida Panthers
Matheson made his debut with the Florida Panthers during the 2015-16 season. He became a full-time player in the Panthers’ lineup during the 2017-18 season, playing with them for two full seasons. The Panthers traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins before the 2020-21 season.
Pick #24 – Malcolm Subban/Goaltender – Boston Bruins
Subban debuted with the Bruins in 2014-15 but never gained a full-time role with them and was exposed to the expansion draft of 2017 in which the Vegas Golden Knights selected him. He played with Vegas until the trading deadline of 2019-20, when he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Pick #25 – Jordan Schmaltz/Defenseman – St. Louis Blues
Schmaltz debuted with the Blues during the 2016-17 season but never earned a full-time role. The Blues traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 2018-19 season and he has not played in a single NHL game since that trade. He recently signed a contract to play in the Finnish League.
Pick #26 – Brendan Gaunce/Center – Vancouver Canucks
Gaunce debuted with the Canucks during the 2015-16 season but could never earn a full-time role. The Canucks did not give him a qualifying offer after the 2018-19 season and he left the team as a free agent and signed with the Boston Bruins. He played in one game with the Bruins during the 2019-20 season and joined the Swedish league for the 2020-21 season.
Pick #27 – Henrik Samuelsson/Center – Phoenix Coyotes
Samuelssson played in three game for the Arizona Coyotes during the 2014-15 season which turned out to be the only three NHL games he’d ever play. He played mainly in the AHL, with two partial seasons in the East Coast Hockey League from 2014-15 through 2018-19. After that, he has played in leagues in England and Slovakia. He would be considered the greatest draft bust of the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
Pick #28 – Brady Skjei/Defenseman – New York Rangers
Skjei debuted with the Rangers during the 2015-16 season. He had a full-time role with them from 2016-17 through 2019-20 seasons, until getting traded to the Carolina Hurricanes at the trade deadline in 2020.
Pick #29 – Stefan Matteau/Left Wing – New Jersey Devils
Matteau debuted with the Devils during the 2014-15 season but never earned a full-time NHL role. The Devils traded him to the Montreal Canadiens at the 2015-16 trade deadline in exchange for Devante Smith-Pelly. He signed with the Vegas Golden Knights for the 2017-18 season and played in their organization for two seasons. Most recently, he played in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. He has been unable to stay in the NHL for any length of time. His father, Stephane, played with the New York Rangers.
Pick #30 – Tanner Pearson/Left Wing – Los Angeles Kings
Pearson made his NHL debut in the 2013 playoffs. He played in 42 games for the Kings during the 2014-15 season and was a full-time player for them from 2015-16 through 2017-18. His best year for the Kings was the 2016-17 season, during which he scored 24 goals. He began the 2017-18 season with the Kings before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the 2018-19 season. The Penguins traded him to the Vancouver Canucks at the 2019 trade deadline.
Photo: Getty Images
The best forward selected in the draft was Filip Forsberg, who has scored the most goals and recorded the most points for the draft class. He also ranks third in assists. Other forwards in the draft class who have scored more than 100 career goals are: Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Hertl, and Tanner Pearson.
Three other forwards have close to 100 goals: Tom Wilson, Teuvo Teraveinen, and Andreas Athanansiou, a fourth-round selection. In comparison, the 2013 NHL Entry Draft already has seven forwards who have exceeded 100 career goals and two other players are close while the 2014 has already had eight forwards exceeding 100 career goals.
The best defenseman in the draft was Morgan Rielly, who has overwhelmingly led defenseman in overall points. Defensemen with more goals than Rielly were Matt Dumba and Shayne Gostisbehere, a fourth-rounder. Other defenseman with a high number of assists include Gostisbehere, Hampus Lindholm, Jacob Trouba, and Dumba.
The 2012 draft featured a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is also a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2021.
Seven of the players drafted in 2012 did not play in the NHL during the 2020-21 season but one of them, Girgensons, was injured in training camp and missed the full season, as a result. An additional player, Mikhail Grigorenko, played in the NHL for 2020-21, but had played several years in the KHL prior to that, and plans to return to the KHL for the 2021-22 season.
Ten of the players drafted in the first round of 2012 were left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft.
By Diane Doyle
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5-Years Later: Evaluation of Top Forwards Picked in 2012 Draft
Tom Wilson’s Draft Day Was a “Whirlwind of Memories and Emotions”
Draft Class Grades (Updated): Grading the Capitals’ Draft Picks in the Last 10 Years: Pre-2019 NHL Entry Draft Edition
Description of Derecho 2012 from Weather.Gov
Hockey DB: 2012 NHL Entry Draft