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Draft Preview 2006

Draft Preview 2006

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. In each issue, you'll find news, features and opinions about the NHL and leagues across North America and the world.

NHL TEAM REPORTS

Sabres weak on back end

Maybe this will be the year the Sabres draft a defenseman in the first round. For the past few summers they’ve talked about bolstering their blueline depth, but when the time comes they’ve taken a forward three years in a row. The Sabres haven’t chosen a defenseman in the first round since they tabbed Keith Ballard in 2002 (and then they traded him in the deal for center Chris Drury). In fact, the Sabres didn’t have a defenseman on their roster or in AHL Rochester that they had drafted higher than the seventh round after 1999. SCOUTS HONOR The Sabres’ scouting department has undergone considerable changes. The size of the staff has shrunk as the team relies more on video scouting. The men at the top have stayed the same, with GM Darcy…

NHL TEAM REPORTS

Tending farm top priority

When the salary cap chainsaw roared in and chopped down the highest payroll in the NHL forest – a free agent-bloated $66 million – the Flyers knew where to go for cheaper lumber. Down on the farm, where else? The Flyers used 13 rookies in 2005-06, six of whom came off their own draft rolls. This is a departure from previous years, when a liberal budget allowed for unlimited free agent signings. Now the draft has suddenly taken on a much greater importance. The Flyers’ nucleus of the future – Joni Pitkanen, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Antero Niittymaki and Ryan Potulny – is home grown. In an age of salary certainty, commitment to player development makes better business sense. SCOUTS HONOR The Flyers’ staff, which loosely consists of four North American scouts and three Europeans,…

IN THIS ISSUE

OPENING FACEOFF

12 PROSPECT FEATURES assistance The top 50 prospects for the 2006 NHL entry draft (June 24 in Vancouver) are profiled with the of 15 NHL scouts. 62 HOT 100 Use our top-100 list of prospects on draft day to see which teams made bargain selections.…

FEATURES

Americans lead the pack

This will not be an easy choice. Unlike 2004 and 2005, the top pick in the June 24, 2006 draft isn’t a no-brainer. Alex Ovechkin was miles ahead of the pack in ’04 and ditto with Sidney Crosby a year later. But what about ’06? The St. Louis Blues, if they decide to retain the first overall pick, must decide whether they want size and strength on the blueline or a dynamic forward. Erik Johnson, who played for the U.S. under-18 team with USA Hockey, is the consensus No. 1 pick. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound defenseman is in the mould of Scott Stevens, meaning he could be a force for 20 years. The explosive forwards are Phil Kessel of the University of Minnesota, Jonathan Toews of the University of North Dakota and Jordan Staal of…