I recently spent 30 minutes chatting with an acquaintance who is an NHL scout soon after he had returned home from the Under 18's. He is a great fella, and was one of my most useful sources for the draft article I wrote for the Ottawa Sun last June. I asked him about pretty much all of the top prospects off the top of my head, and was able to distinguish these ten prospects as his favourites entering the draft: Ovechkin Malkin Barker Picard Ladd Olesz Smid Stafford Montoya Tukonen Two Russians, Czechs and Americans, three Canadians and a Finn. As for players who may go in the next ten selections, some of his early favourites include Radulov, Korpikoski, Green, Schwarz, Valabik, Chipchura, Thelen, and Voloshenko, despite his skating deficiencies. I asked him if he thought Thelen was a possible top 10 selection; he doesn't think so. He's not very high on O'Neill. I asked him if he might go top 15. "Top 15?" he said with a laugh. "I wouldn't pick him in the top 15 rounds if there were 15 rounds." He is also not a big fan of either Wolski or Schremp. He seems to think their styles/attitudes will hinder their abilites to be effective NHLers. Too much dipsy doodling, and not enough willingness to pay the price, essentially. Judging by how emphatic he was, I'm really starting to believe that Schremp and Wolski are more likely to be drafted around the 20th position than they are the 10th, but all it takes is one organization to like either one of them for that projection to be refuted. He really likes Ladd, and has him pegged as a top 6 pick. He also believes Montoya will not be available when the Kings pick 11th. I told him few of the top ten picks are really looking for goalies, unless Carolina was interested. He seemed to think the 'Canes would indeed take him with the 8th pick if he is still on the board. I mentioned that the 'Canes have picked a goalie in the first round in two of the past three drafts and he remarked "Yeah but were they the right goalies? They need a number one." He definitely thinks Montoya will be the first goalie selected. He liked Montoya last season also, and he told me last spring that Montoya would have been a top 10 pick if he had opted in. He really likes Picard as well. Good size, great shot, good speed, competes....he noted his awkward skating style, but didn't think it was a major concern. High praise for Smid, noting that he took on a major role as one of the top defencemen on the WJC Czech team, and impressed with his poise and skill. Obviously, Smid played better in games other than the Canadian match, where I thought he struggled somewhat. Stafford has been a favourite of this scout for two seasons now. He really liked him last season as well, and thinks he has a solid NHL future. He sees him as a top ten pick without question. I'll be sitting down with him a couple of weeks before the draft for an in-depth interview if I get the same writing gig as last season. I'll also be interviewing other scouts and directors of player personnel if I get the assignment, and I'll compile a pre-draft Top 50 list for this board. Keep in mind that these are the opinions of one scout, and are by no means etched in stone. Also remember that I am merely passing this information on, and have not seen enough of the top prospects to form any sort of informed opinion on who should go where. In other words, don't shoot the messenger....thanks.