COLUMBUS -- In a perfect world, Kyle Turris, Sam Gagner and Angelo Esposito, three of the top-ranked prospects in tonight's NHL draft, would love to end up playing in their own backyards.
Turris, a native of Burnaby, B.C., is aware the Vancouver Canucks have been inquiring about moving up to the No. 1 or No. 2 pick to take him.
"As we were driving to the Vancouver airport to come here, I heard them talking about it on the radio," said Turris, the top-ranked North American skater in Central Scouting's final rankings. "That would be awesome."
Canucks general manager Dave Nonis confirmed he had talks with Chicago GM Dale Tallon, holder of the first overall pick, and Philadelphia's Paul Holmgren, who sits at No. 2.
Gagner, whose father Dave played for the Maple Leafs during the 1995-96 season, grew up in Oakville and would covet the chance to wear blue and white.
"It would be a dream come true," the London Knights forward said.
"To be able to play in Toronto and have all your friends see you play would be awesome."
Gagner would need the Leafs to trade up from the 13th position for that to happen, since he is predicted to go in the top six.
As for Esposito, the gifted forward who spent his childhood in Montreal, the Canadiens are said to be intrigued with snapping up the home-town kid.
There was speculation yesterday that they were considering dealing the No. 12 and 23 picks for the No. 7 slot held by Columbus in order to have a shot at him.
Most mock drafts have the Blackhawks taking the Knights' Patrick Kane first overall, with Turris heading to the Flyers at No. 2 and U.S. under-18 team forward James van Riemsdyk going third to Phoenix.
"Who wouldn't want to go first overall?" Kane said. "I'd savour the moment if it happened."
Many of those same mock drafts have Swedish centre Mikael Backlund, the second-ranked European skater, going to the Leafs. Backlund shares the same Swedish agent, Claes Elefalk, as Mats Sundin and received a pep talk from the Toronto captain last month in Stockholm.
"He told me that the importance of working out and said he works out now more than ever," Backlund said.