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The 2006 NHL Entry Draft is almost upon us, and as always, fans everywhere have started the debate about who should go where, and who their team should pick.  The following is our opinions on how the first round will shake down.  Each pick will have biographical information, some general comments, recent draft history, and a summary of rankings from the Hockey News, International Scouting Services, and the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau.  A summary of all of Montreal’s draft positions can be found after the mock.


Erik Johnson, Defence, 6’4, 222 lbs, USA NTDP (U-18)

Wasn’t the consensus #1 pick before the season started, but his play through the season makes him that now.  A franchise defenceman St. Louis can build around.

Recent Draft History:
2005: T.J. Oshie, C (24th overall)
2004: Marek Schwarz, G (17th overall)
2003: Shawn Belle, D (30th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 1st  ISS: 1st  CSB: 1st (NA skaters)



Jordan Staal, Centre, Peterborough (OHL), 6’4, 209 lbs

Played as well, if not better than brother Eric at this stage of his career.  Despite having Crosby and Malkin at the pivot position, the Pens can’t afford to pass on the chance to get him, especially when the next several options are also C’s.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Sidney Crosby, C, (1st overall)
2004: Evgeni Malkin, C (2nd overall)
2003: Marc-Andre Fleury, G (1st overall)

Other rankings: THN: 4th  ISS: 3rd  CSB: 2nd (NA skaters)



Phil Kessel, Centre, Minnesota (NCAA), 6’0, 189 lbs

The consensus #1 pick as until the new year, Kessel really hasn’t done much to slip, and that will have the Blackhawks intrigued.  With the injury problems for current franchise C Tuomo Ruutu, snagging Kessel will be a very high priority.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Jack Skille, RW (7th overall)
2004: Cam Barker, D (3rd overall)
2003: Brent Seabrook, D (14th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 2nd  ISS: 4th  CSB: 5th (NA skaters)



Jonathan Toews, Centre, North Dakota (NCAA), 6’1, 195 lbs

Made a name for himself at the World Juniors, despite putting up less than stellar numbers.  His two-way capabilities should make him an excellent choice to play alongside that Ovechkin kid…just imagine if Ovechkin had a good centreman…yikes.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Sasha Pokulok, D (14th overall)
2004: Alexander Ovechkin, LW (1st overall)
2003: Eric Fehr, RW (18th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 3rd  ISS: 2nd  CSB: 3rd (NA skaters)



Peter Mueller, Centre, Everett (WHL), 6’2, 200 lbs

Solid two-way player who saw his responsibilities increase as the season wore on, and he did nothing to disappoint.  Very good on both sides of the puck, and could create a solid 1-2 punch up with middle with Patrice Bergeron for years to come.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Matt Lashoff, D (22nd overall)
2004: David Krejci, C (63rd overall)
2003: Mark Stuart, D (21st overall)

Other rankings: THN: 6th  ISS: 6th  CSB: 6th (NA skaters)



Niklas Backstrom, Centre, 6’0, 183 lbs, Brynas (SEL)

With the glutton of high-calibre forwards the Jackets seem to be collecting, first instinct is that they’ll take a d-man.  But with a dynamic player of Backstrom’s calibre still on the board, they simply can’t pass the chance up.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Gilbert Brule (6th overall)
2004: Alexandre Picard, RW (8th overall)
2003: Nikolai Zherdev, RW (4th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 5th  ISS: 5th  CSB: 1st (Euro skaters)



Michael Frolik, Right Wing, 6’1, 187 lbs, Kladno (CZE)

Thought to be the #1 pick for this draft back in 2004, Frolik, unlike Kessel earlier, has done something to slip.  Many scouts suggest that his head isn’t always in the right place, but Ted Nolan in the mix, it shouldn’t be a problem for long.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Ryan O’Marra, C (15th overall)
2004: Petteri Nokelainen, C (16th overall)
2003: Robert Nilsson, RW (15th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 12th  ISS: 7th  CSB: 2nd (Euro skaters)



Derick Brassard, Centre, 6’0, 174 lbs, Drummondville (QMJHL)


With Ballard and Michalek proving to be legit NHL blueliners, the Coyotes can afford to spend another season helping their offence, and Brassard can do just that.  His small frame and up-tempo style fit into the mold the Coyotes are looking to build, seen through their NHL team and recent draft history.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Martin Hanzal, C (17th overall)
2004: Blake Wheeler, RW (5th overall)
2003: Tyler Redenbach, LW (77th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 7th  ISS: 10th  CSB: 4th (NA skaters)



Kyle Okposo, Right Wing, 6’0, 195 lbs, Des Moines (USHL)

Let’s face it, the Wild need one thing, and plenty of it, scoring.  Okposo isn’t going to be a 40-goal scorer, but he can be a solid 2-way forward who not only will be able to contribute offensively, but can also fit Lemaire’s system.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Benoit Pouliot, C (4th overall)
2004: A.J. Thelen, D (12th overall)
2003: Brent Burns, D (20th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 10th  ISS: 13th  CSB: 11th (NA skaters)



Bryan Little, Centre, 5’10, 194 lbs, Barrie (OHL)

Having seen this kid many times before, he’s the real deal, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he went higher.  Mike Keenan loves players with spunk, and Little, despite being small, has it, and also has a nose for the net.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Kenndal McArdle, LW (20th overall)
2004: Rostislav Olesz, C (7th overall)
2003: Nathan Horton, C (3rd overall)

Other rankings: THN: 9th  ISS: 14th  CSB: 7th (NA skaters)



Nigel Williams, Defence, 6’4, 226 lbs, USA NTDP (U-18)

After the Kings traded Denis Grebeshkov to make a run at the playoffs last season, the cupboard really did become bare for d-men.  There’s a few on the board left to choose from here, but his size and skill put Williams above the rest as the next d-man to go after Johnson.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Anze Kopitar, C (11th overall)
2004: Lauri Tukonen, RW (11th overall)
2003: Dustin Brown, RW (13th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 11th  ISS: 12th  CSB: 13th (NA skaters)



Bob Sanguinetti, Defence, 6’1, 182 lbs, Owen Sound (OHL)

The Thrashers have oh so many scoring forwards, and the Valibik stunner of a few years ago isn’t looking so good at the moment, so the Thrashers will look to rectify that pick here.  Sanguinetti is a good puck mover, and should fit in well in the Thrashers run and gun system.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Alex Bourret, RW (16th overall)
2004: Boris Valabik, D (10th overall)
2003: Braydon Coburn, D (8th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 11th  ISS: 12th  CSB: 12th (NA skaters)



Chris Stewart, Right Wing, 6’1, 227 lbs, Kingston (OHL)

The Leafs are set in goal and their young defence looks good, so it’s time to go get some forwards.  It comes between Stewart and Sheppard here, as both have similar games.  Look for the Leafs to take the hometown kid here though.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Tuukka Rask, G (21st overall)
2004: Justin Pogge, G (90th overall)
2003: John Doherty, D (57th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 14th  ISS: 19th  CSB: 8th (NA skaters)



Jiri Tlusty, Left Wing, 6’1, 185 lbs, Kladno (CZE)

The first player to really slip down, mostly because the teams in the spots ahead are in need of other types of players.  Tlusty has a very crafty skillset, although some question his overall offensive ability, which will also cause him to slip.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Luc Bourdon, D (10th overall)
2004: Cory Schneider, G (26th overall)
2003: Ryan Kesler, C (23rd overall)

Other rankings: THN: 8th  ISS: 11th  CSB: 3rd (Euro skaters)



Jonathan Bernier, Goalie, 5’11, 180 lbs, Lewiston (QMJHL)

Even if Tampa trades for a goalie (or 2) at the draft, they’re still in trouble in goalie depth.  Gerald Coleman may pan out to be a legit NHL’er, but if not, then all hopes fall to Karri Ramo.  If you’re asking who these guys are, then you should understand this pick.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Vladimir Mihalik, D (30th overall)
2004: Andy Rogers, D (30th overall)
2003: Mike Egener, D (34th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 17th  ISS: 1st (goalies)  CSB: 1st (NA goalies)



Mark Mitera, Defence, 6’3, 202 lbs, Michigan (NCAA)

The Habs need one thing, and that’s defence.  Yes, there are some bigger names on the board here, however, Mitera has the attributes the Habs like, good mobility, strong two-way play, and a solid work ethic. 

Recent Draft History:
2005: Carey Price, G (5th overall)
2004: Kyle Chipchura, C (18th overall)
2003: Andrei Kostitsyn, RW (10th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 20th  ISS: 32nd  CSB: 20th (NA skaters)

See below for a more detailed look into Montreal’s projected pick.


James Sheppard, Left Wing, 6’2, 201 lbs, Cape Breton (QMJHL)

Although the Wild could use a d-man with their 2nd pick of the 1st round, the fact that Sheppard slips entices them to draft a second winger.  Like Okposo earlier, he is an effective two-way player, with a decent knack for the net.

How acquired:
From Edmonton along with a conditional 3rd round pick in 2007 in exchange for G Dwayne Roloson.

Other rankings: THN: 13th  ISS: 8th  CSB: 9th (NA skaters)



Ty Wishart, Defence, 6’4, 214 lbs, Prince George (WHL)

The Avs are starting to get a little long in the tooth on the back end, and don’t have anyone remotely ready to step in.  Wishart is a steady, but unspectacular defender who’ll get the job done.  With the looks of Colorado’s D in a couple of seasons, that should suit them just fine.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Ryan Stoa, C (34th overall)
2004: Wojtek Wolski, LW (21st overall)
2003: David Liffiton, D (63rd overall)

Other rankings: THN: 16th  ISS: 15th  CSB: 21st (NA skaters)



Cory Emmerton, Centre, 5’11, 181 lbs, Kingston (OHL)


Emmerton to me, seems like a Brian Burke kind of player.  Plenty of heart, and lots of creativity, which fits in well with the players the Ducks already have in their system.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Bobby Ryan, RW (2nd overall)
2004: Ladislav Smid, D (8th overall)
2003: Ryan Getzlaf, C (19th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 22nd  ISS: 18th  CSB: 10th (NA skaters)



Joe Ryan, Defence, 6’1, 186 lbs, Quebec (QMJHL)

The Sharks aren’t too bad in any particular spot, so they’ll look to solidify the back end.  Ryan was a key cog for the CHL champion Remparts as a defensively responsible rearguard.  Don’t overlook his offensive game though, it is underrated.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Devin Setoguchi, RW (8th overall)
2004: Lukas Kaspar, RW (22nd overall)
2003: Milan Michalek, RW (6th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 27th  ISS: 30th  CSB: 31st (NA skaters)



Ryan White, Centre, 6’0, 204 lbs, Calgary (WHL)

The Rangers had a change of heart, and picked up more character players over skilled ones, and this pick follows that format.  White’s not an elite scorer, but has 2nd line potential, and is above average playing the defensive side.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Mark Staal, D (12th overall)
2004: Al Montoya, G (6th overall)
2003: Hugh Jessiman, RW (12th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 18th  ISS: 36th  CSB: 27th (NA skaters)



Chris Summers, Defence, 6’1, 180 lbs, USA NTDP (U-18)

The Flyers lacked one thing on defence this season, mobility (you can argue skill, but for sure, mobility).  That just happens to be Summers’ best asset, although he doesn’t use it enough offensively.  Steady on the defensive side.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Steve Downie, RW (29th overall)
2004: Rob Bellamy, RW (92nd overall)
2003: Jeff Carter, C (11th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 23rd  ISS: 34th  CSB: 47th (NA skaters)



Ivan Vishnevsky, Defence, 6’0, 178 lbs, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)

The Predators have has success with uber-offensive defensemen in Zidlicky and Timonen (and even Andy Delmore a few years ago.)  Why mess with a plan that works?

Recent Draft History:
2005: Ryan Parent, D (18th overall)
2004: Alexander Radulov, RW (15th overall)
2003: Ryan Suter, D (7th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 26th  ISS: 25th  CSB: 32nd (NA skaters)



Ondrej Fiala, Centre, 6’2, 190 lbs, Everett (WHL)

Fiala is a long-term project, but the upside is massive.  Already considered to be a solid defensive forward, Fiala is learning the offensive side of the game in the CHL rather than back home, which bodes well more often than not.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Marek Zagrapan, C (13th overall)
2004: Drew Stafford, RW (13th overall)
2003: Thomas Vanek, LW (5th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 29th  ISS: 22nd  CSB: 14th (NA skaters)



Yuri Alexandrov, Defence, 6’1, 176 lbs, Cherepovets (RUS)

Boy did New Jersey ever miss Stevens and Niedermayer.  They need some more quality defencemen in the system, having one would be nice.  Alexandrov is a steady, safe defenceman, exactly what the Devils always covet.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Niklas Bergfors, RW (23rd overall)
2004: Travis Zajac, C (20th overall)
2003: Zach Parise, C (17th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 38th  ISS: 44th  CSB: 4th (Euro skaters)



Nick Foligno, Left Wing, 6’0, 190 lbs, Sudbury (OHL)

Last time I checked, Darryl Sutter was running the team still, and Foligno has the attributes Sutter loves.  He’s tough, in your face, and can score too.  Just like his dad.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Matt Pelech, D (26th overall)
2004: Kris Chucko, LW (24th overall)
2003: Dion Phaneuf, D (9th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 32nd  ISS: 55th  CSB: 19th (NA skaters)



Alexander Vasyunov, Left Wing, 6’0, 187 lbs, Yaroslavl (RUS)

At this point in the first round, you tend to start thinking high risk, high reward (usually).  Vasyunov, when he’s on his game, is dominant.  The catch is, he is off as much as he is on.  Add to that the fact he’s not jumping at the prospect of coming to North America, and there’s your risk.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Matt Niskanen, D (28th overall)
2004: Mark Fistric, D (28th overall)
2003: Loui Eriksson, LW (33rd overall)

Other rankings: THN: 28th  ISS: 16th  CSB: 7th (Euro skaters)



Tomas Marcinko, Centre, 6’4, 187 lbs, Kosice (CZE)

With the potential departure of one or both of Chara and Redden, one may think they’d go the d-man route, but they did that last year.  He has second line potential, and the size to handle himself in any situation.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Brian Lee, D (9th overall)
2004: Andrej Meszaros, D (23rd overall)
2003: Patrick Eaves, RW (29th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 36th  ISS: 20th  CSB: 26th (Euro skaters)



Mike Forney, Left Wing, 6’2, 185 lbs, Thief River Falls (USHS)

Another risky pick, but with Detroit’s success over the years, one they can afford to make.  He has all the attributes to be a solid NHL’er, but the fact that he backed off playing tougher competition will scare enough teams off to make him available here.

Recent Draft History:
2005: Jakub Kindl, D (19th overall)
2004: Johan Franzen, C (97th overall)
2003: Jimmy Howard, G (64th overall)

Other rankings: THN: 24th  ISS: 17th  CSB: 39th (NA skaters)



Jesse Joensuu, Right Wing, 6’4, 210 lbs, Assat (FIN)

The player whose stock has fallen the most.  Last year, he was an automatic top-5, but then his play slipped.  However, the fact that he showed such potential will push the Blues to take him as a potential steal, and the centreman they need.  (Could go either #30 or 31, doesn’t much matter.)

How acquired:
From Carolina with W Jesse Boulerice, C Mike Zigomanis, the rights to W Magnus Kahnberg, and 4th round picks in 2006 and 2007 in exchange for Doug Weight and the rights to W Erkki Rajamaki.

Other rankings: THN: 24th  ISS: 17th  CSB: 39th (NA skaters)

Now, let’s take a closer look at who we have projected to go to Montreal, D Mark Mitera.  The numbers support the pick somewhat; in the last 5 drafts, 37.5% (3/8)of the team’s 1st rounders have come from US colleges (a very high percentage compared to many), and 66.7% (2/3) of those have been defencemen.  50% (1/2) of those defence picks came from Michigan, where Mitera currently plays, so the team is familiar with the system he would be playing in.  Scouts rave about Mitera’s work ethic and character, and he is very mobile, an asset in today’s NHL. 

Montreal’s picks (as of June 22nd)

1st round:
2nd round: 49th
3rd round: 79th
4th round: 109th
5th round: 139th
6th round: None – traded to Chicago for D Todd Simpson
7th round: 199th