ST. PAUL, MINN. - It is not Taylor vs. Tyler this year and there would appear that there is no Sid the Kid or Ovie to be found. But itís draft day in the NHL where the future starts now.
Most scouts and general managers agree that the quality is high through the first six to eight players in the draft, where there is a general consensus on who might be selected. After that, many are expecting surprises and sleepers as the remainder of the first round is wide open.
Barring a trade, expect the Oilers to stick with an Alberta boy, but the next five picks could go any direction among that small, elite group.
1. Edmonton Oilers, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer
When heís ready, could be the perfect complement to last yearís No. 1, Taylor Hall.
2. Colorado Avalanche, Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener
Not your typical Swedish pedigree after big junior career. Looks NHL ready.
3. Florida Panthers, Jonathan Huberdeau, C Saint John
Big Memorial Cup saw his draft stock rise. First of many Seadogs to go.
4. New Jersey Devils, Adam Larsson, D, Skelletea (Sweden)
Another Swede who has been playing against men at home. Devils could use a stud on D.
5. New York Islanders, Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara
Strapping D man who can move the puck. Good combine and interviews moved him up.
6. Ottawa Senators, Ryan Strome C, Niagara
Hoping he will one day help fill the void up the middle. They also like Couturier.
7. Winnipeg Whatevers, Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville
Was one of the top pre-season picks before stock slipped. Could he be a steal?
8. Philadelphia Flyers, Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener
More and more scouts seem willing to overlook this deft puck moverís lack of size.
9. Boston Bruins, Nathan Beaulieu, D Saint John
Part two of the ďThank-you KesselĒ deal with Toronto for Bís fans.
10. Minnesota Wild, Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden (Sweden)
His skating has got the attention of most but heís also a big-time playmaker.
11. Colorado Avalanche, Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon
Avs get this pick from St. Louis and hope to add some size on the back end.
12. Carolina Hurricanes, Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestand (Sweden)
Once he matures, looks like the type of blueliner who could eat all kinds of ice time.
13. Calgary Flames,CMark Scheifele, C, Barrie
Another team with need at centre and another player who could use another year in junior.
14. Dallas Stars, Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert
Say so long to Brad Richards, say hello to Mark McNeill.
15. New York Rangers, Joel Armia, RW, Assat (Finland)
Decent scorer in Finnish Elite League, for what thatís worth.
16. Buffalo Sabres, Zack Phillips, C, Saint John
Another Seadog forward who made an impression at Memorial Cup.
17. Montreal Canadiens, Jamieson Oleksiak, D, Northeastern
Big-hitting blueliner who may need another year of college to develop.
18. Chicago Blackhawks, Tomas Jurco, RW, Saint John
Talented playmaker could help fill the void of losses from Cup-winning team.
19. Edmonton Oilers, Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland
Big playoff run for Portland may have him higher than this.
20. Phoneix Coyotes, Boone Jenner, C, Oshawa
May be a little high for big centre, but heís getting some talk.
21. Ottawa Senators, Nicklas Jensen, LW, Oshawa
Big winger with some wheels who got stronger as draft day approaches.
22. Anaheim Ducks, Vladislav Namestnikov, C, London
Has some Russian skill but has some North American background too.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins, Phillip Danault, LW, Victoriaville
Scouts like the defensive side he brings to complement the offence.
24. Detroit Red Wings, Connor Murphy, D, Team USA U-18
Showed that he has recovered from back injury enough to move to next level.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs, Matt Puempel, LW Peterborough
Offensive upside will be hard to pass up if heís around. Leafs had second interview with him in Minny.
26. Washington Capitals, Rocco Grimaldi, C, Team USA U-18
Smallest player in the draft is getting some big talk.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning, Jonathan Miller, C, Team USA U-18
Could be a rush on players from the U.S. developmental program.
28 San Jose Sharks, Ty Rattie, RW, Portland
Big-time scorer in junior who probably needs to add some muscle.
29. Vancouver Canucks, Brandon Saad, LW, Saginaw.
Was ranked much higher earlier in the season but has shown offence in the past.
30. Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Biggs, RW, USA U-18
May be wishful thinking that the big Biggs winger is still around this late.