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With the draft less than a week away, the questions begin – who will go where? In order to help answer this, Habsworld.net has compiled a mock draft for the first round; the picks are a consensus of the senior writers of the site. We’ll make each pick, and then give a brief explanation of why, as well as analysing each player’s skills. Without further ado, here’s how we think the draft will go down:

 1) Alexander Ovechkin (LW): (Dynamo Moscow-RUS)  

The consensus #1 pick since late 2002, Ovechkin will bring some much needed scoring and grit to Washington. Ovechkin will immediately become their franchise player, assuming the Caps can get him out of Russia.

 2) Evgeni Malkin (C): (Magnitogorsk-RUS)  

Malkin is a nice runner-up prize for Pittsburgh, who dropped to #2 in the draft lottery. His scoring prowess and overall ability will make him their franchise player of the future.

 3) Rostislav Olesz (C): (HC Vitkovice-CZE)

Given the ‘Hawks recent draft tendencies, they’ll stay away from a defenceman. They desperately need skill and speed at centre, and Olesz brings that to the table.

 4) Cam Barker (D): (Medicine Hat-WHL)

Columbus possesses some high-end young talent at forward, but, after Klesla on defence, there is none. Barker, a favourite of GM Doug MacLean, should quickly step in and could possibly play next season in the NHL.

 5) Lauri Tukonen (RW): (Espoo Blues Jr.-FIN)

Tukonen wasn’t really pegged as a 1st rounder at the beginning of the year, but is a consensus top-5 pick now. His size and skill will help the Coyotes, who are lacking in their organizational RW-depth.

 6) Andrew Ladd (LW): (Calgary-WHL)

This young lad (we couldn’t resist) rose to #1 in North American rankings after just 1 season in the WHL. Like Tukonen, he mixes size and skill in order to be effective, something the Rangers desperately desire.

 7) Marek Schwarz (G): (Sparta Prague-CZE)

You may find it strange to see Florida taking a goalie with Luongo as the goalie of the present (and future), but they are extremely weak in goalie depth (their best prospect is Simon Lajeunesse, an NHL bust). Given Florida and Luongo’s current money squabbles, this selection is a safe one, in that they’ll have a goalie if Luongo commands too much.

 8) Ladislav Smid (D): (Liberec HV-CZE)

Earlier this week, Carolina traded away one of their top prospects in D Tomas Malec to Anaheim as part of the Martin Gerber deal. Already weak at this spot, expect the ‘Canes to re-stock it this year, starting with the two-way Smid.

 9) Drew Stafford (RW): (North Dakota-WCHA)

The Ducks, offensively are well-off, at both the NHL level and below. One of the things they still need at forward is character, one of Stafford’s greatest attributes. A reliable checker, he is what many call a “safe pick.”

 10) Andrej Meszaros (D): (Trencin-SLO)

With offensive dynamos in Heatley and Kovalchuk, Atlanta can afford to pick a defenceman in the first round for the second straight season. Meszaros is highly underrated by many in this draft, but he possesses solid two-way skills, which means he’s reliable defensively, which cannot be said for many of the Thrashers’ current defencemen.

 11) Alvaro Montoya (G): (U. of Michigan-CCHA)

This should come as a surprise to no one. The Kings are extremely weak depth-wise at this position, and this is the perfect time to restock it. Don’t be surprised to see LA move up a couple of spots to ensure they get one of the “big two” (Montoya and Schwarz).

 12) Alexander Radulov (RW): (Tver-Rus.1)

Last season, the Wild thought they had solved their RW-depth problem when they selected Brent Burns in the 1st round. It didn’t work out that way, as now Burns is patrolling the blueline. This year, they’ll try to restock the right side again, and Radulov fits the bill; his speed will help to produce turnovers in the neutral zone and lead the counter-attack.

 13) A.J. Thelen (D): (Michigan State-CCHA)

The Sabres are desperate for a defenceman, and Thelen fits their needs. He is highly gifted offensively, and will be their quarterback of the future. His size is also an asset, and he uses his body effectively.

 14) Robbie Schremp (C): (London-OHL)

Talent-wise, Schremp is a given top-10 pick, but like Patrick O’Sullivan from last season, he has what scouts call “an issue with his character.” Given the fact that Edmonton needs a scoring centre, they’ll take the chance on him.

 15) Kyle Chipchura (C): (Prince Albert-WHL)

Midway through the season, Chipchura was expected to go in the top-10 (he was ranked #1 in NA Skaters), but he had a rough second half, slipping on everyone’s depth chart. Nashville currently covets a checking centre that has good intangibles, and that is exactly what Chipchura brings to the table. He won’t be a great scorer, but he’ll be a capable player nonetheless.

 16) Devan Dubnyk (G): (Kamloops-WHL)

In a draft overshadowed by Montoya and Schwarz, Dubnyk could be a sleeper for a team looking for a netminder. In this case, the Islanders, with only 3 goalies under contract now (Snow’s a UFA), are looking for the goalie of the future. Dubnyk, despite being 6’6, has quick lateral movement and good positioning overall. Some say he could wind up being the top goalie in the draft.

 17) Alexandre Picard (LW): (Lewiston-QMJHL)

Picard was a player on the rise in the second half of the season, rising to #3 in the CSB rankings. Unfortunately, his skating will cause him to fall to here, but the Blues won’t mind. He is a fairly strong defensive forward with adequate offensive abilities. The Blues, with many players getting up there in age, need a player like Picard to step in for them in the coming years.

 18) Lauri Korpikoski (LW): (TPS Turku Jr.-FIN)

Another riser in the rankings (he wasn’t ranked in the first half by CSB), Korpikoski blossomed this year playing with 2 other potential first rounders in Tukonen (#5) and Nokelainen (#28). He uses speed and toughness together to be effective, something the Canadiens currently desire. His size could be a factor at just 6’1, 183 lbs, but it shouldn’t be too big of a concern for Bob Gainey and Co. on draft day.

 19) Wojtek Wolski (LW): (Brampton-AHL)

Calgary is lacking NHL-calibre depth on the wings, which is where Wolski fits in. He plays a tough game, similar to that of the Cup-finalists, and is projected to be a character forward, something that Coach-GM Darryl Sutter loves.

 20) Boris Valabik (D): (Kitchener-OHL)

Dallas could potentially lose 2 or 3 defencemen to free agency, so it seems wise for them to try to stock up in advance. Valabik, projected by many to go earlier than this, will not because he is a stay-at-home defender, but he is very good at what he does. His size (6’7) will make him a punishing force on the Stars blueline for years to come.

 21) Roman Voloshenko (LW): (Soviet Wings-2-Rus.1)

Colorado actually kept their first rounder this year, and will be able to put it to good use. The Avs will likely lose Kariya and Selanne to free agency, and Forsberg to retirement, so they will require a goal scoring forward. Voloshenko is a one-dimensional player, offence only, and will fit in well with Tony Granato’s system.

 22) Enver Lisin (RW): (Saratov-Rus.1)

Lisin is easily the fastest skater in this draft. Unfortunately, he is not strong defensively, which makes it strange to think the Devils may take him. If they can turn Lisin into a half-decent two-way player, he could be the steal of the first round, as there’s no denying his offensive capabilities.

 23) Kirill Lyamin (D): (Central Army-RUS)

Lyamin slipped a bit in the second half of the year, suffering an injury in early January. Before that though, he established himself as a quality defensive defenceman, which is what Ottawa could benefit from. They also have a tendency to draft European defencemen (Volchenkov, Rachunek). Lyamin also impresses scouts in that he spent the season in the Elite League, rather than juniors.

 24) Johannes Salmonsson (C): (Djurgarden-SWE)

Salmonsson didn’t garner a whole lot of attention this season in a failing development program, but scouts cannot deny the fact that he plays an adequate two-way game. The Rangers, likely to lose Lindros and Messier soon, will need centres. Having solidified an elite forward earlier on (we think it’s going to be Ladd), they can now focus on stocking up down the middle.

 25) Jakub Sindel (C): (Sparta Prague-CZE)

Sindel is very similar to Jiri Hudler, who should’ve went in Round 1 in 2002, but didn’t because of his size. Teams won’t make the same mistake twice, and Sindel will go high. He is highly gifted offensively, and plays a high-tempo game, so he should fit into the Oilers system just fine.

 26) Johan Fransson (D): (Lulea-SWE)

Fransson didn’t opt in last season, and the extra year has helped him plenty. He spent the season in the Elite League, and made his mark as a two-way defenceman. The Canucks are stocked at the NHL level with capable defencemen, but the same cannot be said for their prospects. Fransson will be a quality safe pick for Vancouver.

 27) Mike Green (D): (Saskatoon-WHL)

Green’s ranking was dealt a harsh blow this season, as his squad won a grand total of 7 games in the WHL this season. Scouts feel this improved his character, and his on-ice performance didn’t suffer because of this problem. His offensive abilities will help Washington absorb the loss of dealing away Sergei Gonchar back in March.

 28) Petteri Nokelainen (C): (SaiPa Lappeenranta-FIN)

Nokelainen is primarily rated as a defensive specialist, but he did show an offensive touch in the Under 18’s. As a result he could fit in well on the Sharks’ second line in the future.

 29) Bruce Graham (C): (Moncton-QMJHL)

The biggest forward in the draft, Graham showed some grit this season, a rarity in the ‘Q’. He is an all-around decent player, with no real eye-popping skills or deficiencies. Washington, with yet another pick, could use him on the 2nd or 3rd line in 4 or 5 seasons.

 30) Travis Zajac (C): (Salmon Arm-Jr. A)

Zajac was the highest scoring player in this year’s draft, but he did so from a relatively weak league: Junior A, a level below the CHL. Because of this, he slips a bit, but Tampa can afford to take a chance with a “high-risk, high-reward” pick. Zajac will play in North Dakota next season, where the real test will begin. He’ll either be a steal, or a bust.

Notable Omissions: Dave Bolland (OHL), Cory Schneider (USHS), Adam Pineault (HE), Jeff Schultz (WHL), Blake Wheeler (USHSW)