Here are my first two rounds (ratings, not a mock), plus a few extra â€œcompensation picksâ€, for the 2006 draft. The ranking is based upon a number of factors. Primary are my own reactions upon seeing the players play both live (preferable) and on TV (passable). Second is from scoutsâ€™ (and other hockey peopleâ€™s) talk, often taken with a grain of salt. Third are ranking services, such as CSB, Redline, ISS, McKeenâ€™s, Top Guns. The less Iâ€™ve seen a player, the more I rely on the latter two factors. Some of the players listed, I have not seen. By the way, the Russians playing within their hockey federation have an * by their names. I put them where they should go in an ideal world but with no IIHF agreement, they could all actually go much later. 1st round 1. Kessel- Dynamic upside. Has that â€œspecialâ€ quality. 2. Johnson- Whoâ€™d pass on Chris Pronger #2? 3. Backstrom- Best Swede in ages. Mature game. 4. Toews- A 15 year pillar for any team who chooses him. 5. Staal- Huge upside with late b-day, size, strength. 6. Brassard- Most dynamic Canadian and on a seemingly endless upward curve. 7. Okposo- Power forward. Iginla-like player shows no weaknesses. Had little difficulty against USHL opposition. 8. Mueller- Sniper. Eye-hand coordination is already NHL level. 9. Tlusty- Great speed, agility, hands, vision and improving rapidly. 10. Sheppard- NHL body, good work ethic and all-around game maturity. 11. Stewart- At times, heâ€™s the irresistible force. Major power forward potential, can just bull the puck through defenders. 12. Wishart- Ultra-poised, smart, steady. Needs to get meaner. Was only average at U18s. 13. Helenius- Big, technically-sound, and cool under pressure. 14. Sangunietti- Offensive guy can step it up in big games. Sanguinetti is the very opposite of Wishart. 15. Bernier- Ever so cool and always knows where the puck isâ€¦or is going. 16. Grabner- Non-stop speed and scoring, often spectacularly so. 17. Foligno- All-around pest and make-a-difference guy. Can play in the trenches or on open ice. 18. *Alexandrov- Captain and leader, very smart with puck. Always in the right place. 19. Berglund- Big upside. Can dominate with size, puck skills. 20. Frolik- Learning/progression curve seems to have stopped. Beware. 21. Vishnevsky- Tremendous quarterback. Elite skater, puckhandler, vision. 22. Little- The guy just scores and scores. Can he do it at the next level? I hope he proves that this rating is too low. 23. Persson- Swedish defenceman simply controls the ice and rarely makes a mistake. Sleeper. 24. *Anisimov- NHL frame. Shows flashes of physical dominance c/w elite skill. 25. Joenssuu- The learning curve may be going up again but what is the upside? 26. Burki- Top 15 skill, but is sometimes on the periphery of the play and can disappear. 27. Clutterbuck- Canâ€™t miss character guy. Not a huge upside but a safe pick (are you reading this, Vancouver?) 28. Irving- Did he make those flashy Everett numbers or does Everettâ€™s shut down system make him? 29. Fischer- Every year there is a Minn. High-school player of 1st round skill. This yearâ€™s Brian Lee and a possible riser. 30. Swan- Oozes power forward potential if the injury bug was only a â€“cough- accident. 2nd round 31. Lewis- Said to remind scouts of Zajac. Take that as you may. 32. Tulupov- Big, mean and mobile. What more do you want? Sleeper. 33. Ahnelov Pihl- Improvement rate is skyrocketing. Plays a very mature game. 34. Fiala- Showing great tools and now starting to find the toolbox in the WHL. 35. White- Another meat and potatoes safe bet pick. 100% warrior-type. 36. Giroux- Lots of skill and flash upside here, on an upward curve yet! 37. Sneep- Getting some late season chinwag. I can add nothing to this. 38. Maxwell- Showed great puck movement at U18s but intensity questions could drop him. 39. Kana- Has stepped up his play against men in Czech leagues. 40. *Varlamov- Acrobatic and intense. Best Russian goalie in a while. 41. Mitera- Didnâ€™t make as much of an NCAA impact as some had hoped. Wild card. 42. Ryan- Tough, reliable, consistent. Will not excite you but get the job done. 43. Weber- Pretty close to Ryan in terms of style, with a touch more jazz in his play. 44. Peckham- Intense, ferocious and colorful player. He can be scary- for his own team too! 45. Geoffrion- Plays a mature and consistent all-around game. 46. Holzapfel- Fast hands and feet with sniper and playmaker potential. 47. Palmer- Unremarkable in style, but gets the job done consistently. 48. *Vasyunov- Elite hands and feet. But what does he actually produce? Beware. 49. Forney- Shows sniper potential. A bit of an unknown quantity for many. Good upside or sleeper potential. 50. Osala- Was turning into a force by seasonâ€™s end. Still inconsistent but teased with considerable upside. 51. Summers- Versatile and hard working. Drawn like a magnet to traffic- and I mean that both positively and negatively. 52. J. Armstrong- When heâ€™s on his game he looks like J. Staal, but when heâ€™s off he looks like heâ€™s watching a train leave the station. Big hit or miss potential. 53. Matthias- Reliable and consistent defensive forward with good wheels and size. 54. Fadden- Was a major force at the end of the season. But his floating earlier with Seattle might raise character issues. 55. DeGray- He does his job. No more. No less. â€˜Nuff said. 56. Emmerton- He lacks an identifiable NHL skill or strength. Call me a doubter. I hope Iâ€™m wrong. 57. Strait- See DeGray above. Reliable. 58. Gryba- See Strait and DeGray but with a little less consistency and a little more meanness. 59. McBain- Was very comfortable and creative on international ice. A late riser. 60. K. Armstrong- Didnâ€™t finish as strong as he started but still a worthy 2nd or 3rd rounder. Others (They'll become 2nd round if Russians are avoided+ compenstion picks) 61. Berra- Everyone remembers his WJC performance. Great size and technically sound. 62. Seppanen- Has adapted to higher level of play well and stood out in â€™87 tournaments. 63. *Zharkov- One shift heâ€™s a consistent threat and the next heâ€™s a wreck. Big upside/downside. 64. Mursak- Slovenian has flash, dash and a great worth ethic. On the rise. 65. *Popov- Great with the puck, skates in elegant, meaningless circles without it. 66. Williams- If the U18 team doesnâ€™t have the confidence to play him even as a 6th guyâ€¦ 67. Juutalainen- Leader of the strong Finnish U18 team can carry the puck, beat guys 1-on-1 and create. NCAA entry should help draft stock. 68. Hillier- A poor manâ€™s Giroux. Nice hands from the Q. 69. Ratchuk- Looking for a quick, agile, but undersized puck-carrying defender with top level vision? Hereâ€™s your man. 70. Shutron- Hopefully heâ€™s improved his decision-making but Iâ€™m not sure what he brings to the table other than slick skating. Please prove me wrong, Ben. 71. Daugavins- Slick Latvian is a relatively unknown quantity. We may get a peek at the senior WCs in Riga next month. 72. Holzer- Big German defencemen with mobility, puck skills and a mean streak are in demand. Why CSB didnâ€™t list him I donâ€™t know. 73. McGinn- Kind of a poor manâ€™s Ryan White. Dependable up â€˜n down guy, but limited upside. 74. Lagerstrom- Swede has been up and down but has a well-rounded game and could surprise. 75. Marcinko- Top Slovakian prospect is in the same boat as Lagerstrom but has too much upside to ignore. Did I miss anyone? I donâ€™t think so. After this itâ€™s a free-for-all.