The NHL entry draft is June 22-23 in Pittsburgh and most -- if not all -- teams are still trying to figure out their final lists of prospects. With the U-18 world championships behind us (see our updates here and here) teams' big boards are getting close to finalized, but it's rather unlikely that any two look identical. As past drafts have shown, different teams value players differently. And we'll see those different values play out on draft day.
Many scouts will remember a few years back when the Los Angeles Kings surprised most with the selection of Thomas Hickey at No. 4 overall. I still remember the buzz on the floor and the shuffling at the tables when that selection was made. That selection was against the grain, to say the least.
There usually is more consensus around the top players, but opinions will vary in player evaluations. It's worth keeping that in mind as you consider our finalized Top 50 list below. The list is not a mock draft and does not represent how I believe the draft will play out. Rather it is my ranking of how the talent in the 2012 NHL draft pool stacks up.
After scouting the 2012 draft class for two full seasons (one with the Atlanta Thrashers and this past season with ESPN Insider), here is my final ranking of the top 50 prospects.