We continue with our 5 part preview of the 2012 NHL draft hosted by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by looking at our 21-30 ranked players.

Part 1 can be located here

Part 2 can be located here

21. Scott Laughton – C – Oshawa (OHL) – 6’0 – 177lbs – Shoots L – May 30, 1994

Scott Laughton is another young player that came onto the scene late as a real first round contender. Laughton plays the game in a fashion that exhibits his high hockey IQ. He’s responsible defensively, feisty when appropriate, and has great vision and an underrated and underused shot. Laughton’s offensive capabilities often cause him to play an unintentional perimeter game. Laughton likes to make the perfect play and can often find himself on the outside waiting for the perfect pass. Laughton’s first few steps need work but he’s not out of place on the rush. Laughton’s defensive poise make him a reliable option in big situations. He plays the game with a lot of pride, but could be better served to be a bit more physical. He’s a leader on the ice and has a good bit of confidence with the puck. Overall, Laughton is an excellent option for a team looking for a two-way center with a great attitude and work ethic. The wait time might be a bit longer on Laughton but he has all the intangibles of a great center.

2011-12 Statistics: 64GP – 21G – 32A – 53PTS – 101PIM – +8

22. Nicolas Kerdiles – LW – USNTDP – 6’1 – 201lbs – Shoots L – Jan. 11, 1994

Nicolas Kerdiles is your prototypical power forward. A University of Wisconsin recruit, Kerdiles has a nose for the net, a great presence in the tough areas, and a strong stride with great balance. His top end speed can be a concern. Kerdiles is great at being opportunistic in scoring areas but his offensive abilities aren’t stunted by any means. Kerdiles can shoot the puck and he’s effective in the cycle and along the wall. Kerdiles takes some heat for being inconsistent but that’s not a concern for us. His commitment to defense and his presence at both ends make him an effective forward without the high flash offense. He missed a portion of the year sidelined by injury but plays the game with little regard for his own well being in the sense that he’s willing to be physical to make a play. His skating has to improve and his frame needs to continue to fill out in order to continue to be effective, but he proved a lot against the D1 schools he played against this year, especially that he’s capable of both delivering and receiving punishment for the better of his team.

2011-12 Statistics: 18GP – 4G – 9A – 13PTS – 18PIM – -5

23. Slater Koekkoek – D – Peterborough (OHL) – 6’2 – 186lbs – Shoots L – Feb. 18, 1994

It’s a season of what could have been for Slater Koekkoek, he was sidelined with a torn labrum muscle and missed a significant portion of the year. What we do know about his game after a year and some change of viewership is that he’s a gifted skater with a great hockey IQ. Koekkoek has a knack for finding a lane whether it be for an outlet pass or a quick rush up ice. He skates with a very heads up style and is very fluid with his movement both forwards and backwards. His shot is adequate and his decision making up ice is sound. Koekkoek plays major minutes and can work extremely hard for long periods of time. Koekkoek has some work to do with his defensive assignments and his physical game. A large part of his development will hinge on his size and how he fills out his frame as he continues to grow. Despite the fact that scouts had limited viewership, this young defenseman has already shown that he’s capable of changing the game with his wheels and his vision.

2011-12 Statistics: 26GP – 5G -13A – 18PTS – 17PIM – -7

24. Tom Wilson – RW – Plymouth (OHL) – 6’4 – 203lbs – Shoots R – March 29, 1994

The popular comparison for Tom Wilson this year has been Milan Lucic, but I’m not sure we’re ready to take it that far yet. Wilson is certainly a top power forward at his age. His straight ahead skating is above average but his agility could use some work. Wilson doesn’t possess a high end offensive pedigree but he’s willing to do the dirty work, whether it be in front of the net, in the boards, or by dropping the gloves. Wilson fought the previously mentioned defensive tough guy, Dalton Thrower, in the CHL prospects game without a lid on. Wilson’s effectiveness offensively at the next level is in question, but his ability to be a thorn in the side of his opponent and play the game with a high level of physicality is a very real thing. Wilson’s regular season numbers on offense are slightly abysmal as he did spend a good bit of time fighting and playing the role of space-creator, but he showed some flair and a knack for the net in the playoffs by potting seven goals in 13 games played.

2011-12 Statistics: 49GP – 9G – 18A – 27PTS – 141PIM – +17

25. Tim Bozon – LW – Kamloops (WHL) – 6’0 – 183lbs – Shoots L – March 24, 1994

Tim Bozon carries a bit of risk with his game, but we think that him being ranked low in many rankings is a bit of a crime. Bozon is a solid skater with great agility and top end speed. He carries the puck well on his stick and has a very elusive capability on offense. It can be extremely difficult for opposing defenders to keep a constant mark on Bozon despite his stature. He darts in and out of traffic and gets himself into high percentage scoring areas had has a great, sharp one-timer down low. His vision is solid and he’s got a knack for playing to the whistle and drawing the ire of the opposition in many ways. Bozon’s flaws lie in his smaller frame and his sometimes lackadaisical approach to defense, but with continued grooming and a bit more size he can develop into a power forward with a gifted skill set. His shot might be the most underrated aspect of his game.

2011-12 Statistics: 71GP -36G – 35A – 71PTS – 40PIM – +27

26. Brady Skjei – D – USNTDP – 6’2 – 200lbs – Shoots L – March 26, 1994

Brady Skjei loves to have the puck on his stick and his low shoulder approach to driving the puck on offense reminds one of a forward coming down the wall. Skjei uses his wheels and vision to chip in on offense and provide a mobile threat on the backend. Skjei could be better served to use his given size in his own zone more often. His game is a bit slow and indecisive in his own net at times, but he doesn’t find himself out of position as often as he finds himself a bit flatfooted here and there. His shot is solid and underused, his hockey IQ is strong, especially on offense. As he continues to grow and mature, utilizing his size and strength to bully opponents will be a necessity. Overall, Skjei projects to be a puck moving threat that could potentially be a bruiser on defense if he can play to his size advantage.

2011-12 Statistics: 24GP – 3G – 9A – 12PTS – 12PIM – +5

27. Tomas Hertl – C – Slava Praha (CZE) – 6’2 – 198lbs – Shoots L – Dec. 11, 1993

Tomas Hertl is a great combination of power and finesse. He’s got the ability to drive the puck to the net and crash the goal for dirty plays, and slow the game down and effectively distribute or shoot the puck as well. His skating is the major concern, as his top end speed is not where it needs to be and he struggles with being agile while carrying the puck. Hertl’s north/south skating is solid even minus the high end gear, and when he gets going with the puck on the straight and narrow he can be difficult to stop. His board work is strong and his physical game are top notch. His defensive presence is there but he struggles with assignment issues. He has proven his worth playing against bigger players. His offensive acumen is generally high and he carries a multiple bag of tricks offensively. His game needs to continue to grow in the defensive aspect and he has to prove that he can skate at the NHL level.

2011-12 Statistics: 38GP -12G – 13A – 25PTS – 22PIM – +9

28. Henrik Samuelsson – RW – Edmonton (WHL) – 6’2 – 195lbs – Shoots R – Feb. 7, 1994

Henrik Samuelsson is a hard nosed power forward with a top quality shot and an overall offensive presence that sometimes crosses the line. Noted as a tough player to play against, Samuelsson can compliment his strength and physical play with a shot that can beat goaltenders any given away. Samuelsson is a beast in the boards, his north/south sense is solid, and he’s willing to get back on defense. The issue lies in his lack of skating ability and his bogged down style of movement. He also has stretches of mental lapse where he can be rattled, retaliate, and generally take poor penalties. Samuelsson lacks the mobility to have the overall offensive prowess that his colleagues share with him. Overall, Samuelsson projects to be a high risk, high reward prospect that can play a physical yet talented game.

2011-12 Statistics: 28GP – 7G – 18A – 23PTS – 42PIM – +18

29. Stefan Matteau – C – USNTDP – 6’2 – 210lbs – Shoots L – Feb. 23, 1994

Stefan Matteau’s season took a bit of a hit when he was declared ineligible for the U18 WJC because of a bizarre loop in his eligibility. Matteau is a power forward with a great amount of strength and grit. His ability to get into the boards and throw the body leads to a good bit of scrums and angry opponents. Matteau could be better with keeping his head and staying out of the box more consistently. His skating is a bit of a question mark but we believe him to be more agile than people give him credit for. Matteau is headed to the QMJHL next year where he’ll have a chance to showcase his skills on a larger stage. His offensive acumen is solid and his shot is above average. The freedom to be more physical in the QMJHL might benefit his game immensely. In all likelihood some patience will be required in Matteau’s development but he has the tools to be an effective two-way power forward.

2011-12 Statistics: 18GP – 6G – 4A – 10PTS – 93PIM – +4

30. Colton Sissons – C – Kelowna (WHL) – 6’1 – 189lbs – Shoots R – Nov. 5, 1993

Colton Sissons was named the captain for a very young Rockets team and lead the way with an exemplary work ethic and a no-nonsense approach to the rink. Sissons is a solid power forward with a knack for being able to do big things in tight spaces. His front of the net presence is solid and his solid north/south movement allow him to get on his horse for a physical forecheck. Sissons agility is in question and his vision often leads to questionable decisions. Sissons can be better complimented with high quality offensive scorers. However, his shot is solid and his work ethic makes him a multiple threat on offense. His defensive game is ever-improving and his leadership skills make him a valuable player to any locker rom. His top level scoring is in question but when paired with talented players, he can produce higher offensive numbers than his overall acumen might indicate he would be capable of. Sissons is also very skilled in the faceoff circle and took some key defensive draws. Overall, he might be a bit of a project, but his attitude and work ethic are key to his overall game.

2011-12 Statistics: 58GP – 26G – 15A – 41PTS – 62PIM – -13

Coming up later this week:

Part 4 of 5 in our draft ranking.
Our official Penguins endorsement list for the first round
Continued coverage of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.