And, L.A. picks ...

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

It's a given that Steven Stamkos will be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft this summer.

And there's a good chance the six-foot-one, 180-pound centre from Unionville, Ont., will go first overall.

"That would be a great honour," Stamkos said. "Being the first overall pick in the draft is quite an honour and it would be a dream come true.

"Playing minor hockey, it's every kid's dream to be the top pick, especially being a Canadian, you take great pride in that."

There is still a lot that can happen between now and draft day, and just because Stamkos is the top-rated skater in North America doesn't mean he'll automatically be selected first overall.

But considering his credentials, anybody that gets chosen before him had better be a heck of a hockey player.

"It wouldn't be the end of the world if I wasn't drafted first overall," Stamkos said.

"In the end, it's just a bragging right where you go. Once you get to the main camp, nobody really cares where you got drafted or what pick you were. It's all about how you play on the ice."

FRONT AND CENTRE

Stamkos will be front and centre at the Home hardware CHL Top Prospects game tonight at Rexall Place. Last night he was involved in the skill competition.

In 37 games with the Sarnia Sting this season, the 17-year-old has 32 goals and 29 assists for 61 points. He was also a member of Canada's gold-medal team at the World Junior Championships, scoring a goal and adding five assists in seven games. Last year as a 16-year-old rookie, he finished with 42 goals and 50 assists for 92 points in 63 games with the Sting.

"This is a very important game. It's not like a typical all-star game; you have to take it very seriously and you'll be preparing like it was any other game out there," Stamkos said.

"There are going to be tons of scouts in the stands and you have to prove yourself out there. Not that this is going to make or break you as a player, but it's definitely something that you have to take seriously."

The prospects game essentially gives the top draft eligible players in the CHL a chance to compete against each other. All the players in the contest are well known to NHL scouts and it's unlikely their stock will change dramatically on the basis of one game.

PRESSURE EXISTS

But there is still pressure on these kids to perform and they do put a lot into the contest.

"It's a great honour for me to play in this game, this was a goal that I set out before the season was to make it to the top prospects game," Stamkos said. "I think the work that I did in the summer has really helped this season.

"I kind of have a comfort level playing in front of a lot of fans and playing in front of a lot of scouts. I'm going into this game with the attitude that everything goes well.

"I'm excited to just get it underway."


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