It's that time of year again. One month from now, dozens of young men from around the world will gather in Vancouver, British Columbia for the experience they've all been waiting for: to be drafted by an NHL team. For a select few- Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Nicklas Backstrom- their wait to be crowned property of an NHL team will be mercifully brief. Most of them won't be as lucky. Anything can happen on draft day, and this guide takes that approach. Trade-ups and trade-downs? They're inevitable. So too are surprise picks and huge falls. The draft order isn't even set yet, not insofar as the 30th pick is concerned. So sit back, suspend your disbelief, and read on. It's going to be a wild ride, and it's not even June yet. Oh, and keep in mind: this won't be the last from me. Look out for a comprehensive 1-210 mock draft a few days after the final draft order is set. Enjoy! __________________________________________________ 1) St. Louis: Erik Johnson. While the Blues could use a bluechip prospect at any position, and while their group of young defensemen is certainly underrated, the team places emphasis on stellar young rearguards. Johnson is currently miles ahead of any other blueliner in the draft, and will most likely finish his NHL career as the best from this crop. Statline: (USNTDP) 38 GP, 11 G, 22 A, 33 Pts, 57 PIM Notable Numbers: 33 points in 38 games for USNTDP. Assets: Extremely physical; above-average skater with tremendous balance; hockey sense without peer. Flaws: Footwork needs improvement. Career Projection: #1 defensemen; 40-50 points at peak. 2) Pittsburgh: Nicklas Backstrom. An extremely strong World Hockey Championships will cap an impressive rise in draft position for the young Swede. His maturity in all three zones cannot be understated. The Penguins value strong all-around forwards, and they'll get the best of them if they choose Backstrom. Statline: (Brynas, SEL) 46 GP, 10 G, 16 A, 26 Pts, 30 PIM Notable Numbers: 3 shorthanded goals good for 3rd-best in SEL. Assets: Hard worker; exceptional passer; dissects plays instantly. Flaws: Not yet confident in jumping up into the play at all times. Career Projection: #1 centreman; 75-80 points at peak. 3) Toronto (from Chicago): Phil Kessel. With one of the best prospect stables in the NHL, the Blackhawks can afford to move down in order to pick up more NHL-ready pieces. The Leafs pick up a superstar for the future in Kessel and will most likely be able to dump a high-priced contract in a deal. Criticized for having a limited arsenal in terms of dekes, Kessel nevertheless is a highly talented forward. With the right coaching and teammates, it will be no problem for the gifted forward to expand his array of moves on offense. Alexander Steen and Kyle Wellwood alone could assist the forward in this regard. Statline: (U Minn, WCHA) 34 GP, 14 G, 28 A, 42 Pts, 22 PIM Notable Numbers: Has so far scored one goal at the World Hockey Championships. Assets: Elite acceleration and high-end speed; wicked shot; highly competitive nature. Flaws: Often plays as a one-man team; does not use his shot nearly enough. Career Projection: First-line winger; 80-90 points at peak. 4) Washington: Jonathan Toews. For having arguably the best farm in the NHL, the Capitals lack top-six centres. Toews, a clone of former Capital Trevor Linden, adds slick playmaking ability to assist high-scoring wingers Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin and a bona fide two-way presence, something necessary in a group of offensive dynamos. Toews wold be a useful centreman in any situation, a plus for a young team. Statline: (UND, WCHA) 34 GP, 17 G, 11 A, 28 Pts, 20 PIM Notable Numbers: Amassed only 34 PIM in 28 games. Assets: Always makes the smart play; a standout leader; above-average in every respect. Flaws: Lacks offensive creativity; must use his vast gifts more. Career Potential: #1 centreman; 75-90 points at peak. 5) Boston: Jordan Staal. Boasting one of the strongest young one-two punches at centre during the 2005-06 season, the Bruins can afford to gamble on a prospect in the mold of past Boston greats. Staal's two-way game and goal-scoring instincts are slowly rounding into form, giving the Bs a potential game-breaking forward. While he's no Joe Thornton, Staal could lessen the blow of losing the big centreman if he meets expectations. Statline: (Peterborough, OHL) 68 GP, 28 G, 40 A, 68 Pts, 69 PIM Notable Numbers: Had a 40-point increase from his rookie season. Assets: Agile, steady skater; excellent wristshot; willing to use his tools. Flaws: May lack hockey sense; very inconsistent; motivation lacking. Career Potential: First-line winger; 75-85 points at peak. 6) Columbus: Peter Mueller. Conntinuing with the trend of gritty two-way centreman, the Jackets could perform a coup similar to the one that allowed them to net Gilbert Brule at the 2005 Entry Draft. Mueller is primarily a playmaker, but is also showing flashes of being a natural sniper. He is the complete package, something Columbus has very little of in its forward ranks. Statline: (Everett, WHL) 52 GP, 26 G, 32 A, 58 Pts, 44 PIM Notable Numbers: Led Everett Silvertips in PPG with 1.12. Assets: Pro-style game; solid skater; excellent hockey sense. Flaws: Not yet confident in his abilities; could stand to play more physical. Career Potential: #1 Centreman; 75-80 points at peak. 7) NYI: Derick Brassard. During his long tenure, Islanders GM Mike Milbury was never able to acquire the right forwards to make his team a contender. It is ironic and somewhat bittersweet that his wish will most likely be met thanks to prospects he drafted or acquired before being fired. Robert Nilsson, Jeff Tambellini, Ryan O'Marra and Petteri Nokelainen are speedy forwards deft at both finishing plays and making them. Brassard, if available, would add yet another potent weapon for the future to surround high-priced centreman Alexei Yashin. Statline: (Drummondville, QMJHL) 58 GP, 44 G, 72 A, 116 Pts, 92 PIM Notable Numbers: Recorded 31 points in 12 games in October/November. Assets: Deft passer; good nose for the net; excellent skater. Flaws: Footspeed needs to improve; Must add muscle if he wants to bang and crash at the pro level. Career Potential: #1 Centreman; 80-85 points at peak. 8) Phoenix: Jiri Tlusty. The Coyotes are known for making a splash at the draft. Tlusty is a prototypical pick for this club: highly skilled with the puck, loads of potential, but question marks abound. Tlusty has far less of this last catagory, and that will be of great relief to fans of the Desert Dogs. Compared to Datsyuk, Tlusty's oodles of puckhandling ability and hockey sense give the team an ideal future centreman for Shane Doan and Ladislav Nagy. Statline: (Kladno, Cze) 44 GP, 7 G, 3 A, 10 Pts, 51 PIM Notable Numbers: Had one more point than teammate and fellow prospect Michael Frolik in 4 less games. Assets: Best natural stickhandler in draft; enjoys playing in traffic; extremely creative. Flaws: Does not backcheck as much as one should; must make sure physical play does not result in needless penalties. Career Potential: #1 Centreman; 80-90 points at peak. 9) Minnesota: Kyle Okposo. In every draft, there are certain selections that are all but guaranteed. While neither player nor organization will confirm it, and while draft pundits will point out that anything can happen on draft day, these worst-kept secrets still persist. Okposo to Minnesota is this year's. While his current skillset alone makes him a top-ten pick, the allure of sky-high potential surrounds the youngster. Statline: (Des Moines, USHL) 50 GP, 27 G, 31 A, 58 Pts, 56 PIM Notable Numbers: +28 second-best in USHL. Assets: Plays an up-and-down, pro-style game; shoots and from anywhere; intense competitor. Flaws: Sometimes forgets how good he is; must further add muscle to avoid injuries at the NHL level. Career Potential: First-line winger; 70-75 points at peak. 10) Florida: James Sheppard. While prospect Chris Stewart's relation to current Panther youngster Anthony Stewart has caused his name to be bandied about at this pick, Sheppard's overall skill level and potential are both much higher and it should be a given that the Panthers would opt for Sheppard instead if both were available at 10. Sheppard's game is still developing, a scary thing given his current abilities. If he does not make it onto an NHL roster in the fall, almost a given, look out for Sheppard to challenge for the QMJHL scoring title. Statline: (Capre Breton, QMJHL) 66 GP, 30 G, 54 A, 84 Pts, 78 PIM Notable Numbers: 51.5% in the faceoff dot over 1336 draws. Assets: Built like a tank and uses it; disciplined physical player; can finish or make plays with equal aplomb. Flaws: Performs poorly in the opposing building, tallying only 27 of 84 points on the road. Career Potential: Top-six winger; 60-65 points at peak. 11) Los Angeles: Michael Frolik. Those damn Kings. Each year since 2003, a highly-rated European forward has inexplicably fallen to LA, who are more than happy to snap him up. 2004, Lauri Tukonen. 2005, Anze Kopitar. 2006, look out for Michael Frolik to spiral. An underwhelming WJC added to further doubts about his ability to produce, already questioned in the light of a poor 2005-06 campaign in the Czech men's league. However, his lower-body strength, natural ability and potential are simply too good to ignore. Statline: (Kladno, Cze) 48 GP, 2 G, 7 A, 9 Pts, 32 PIM Notable Numbers: Top-five on Czech U18 team in goals, assists, PIM, SH%, PPG and SOG. Assets: Natural leader; incredible lower-body strength; dazzling hands. Flaws: May lack enough on-ice vision to put up big points; not overly creative despite his skillset. Career Projection: First-line winger; 50-65 points at peak. 12) Atlanta: Nigel Williams. The biggest question surrounding the Atlanta Thrashers is on the blueline. A top-five finish in Goals-For in the NHL this past season and the stellar play of rookie goaltender Kari Lehtonen give the Thrashers enough reason to seek help at the draft for their defense. Simply put, there is only one potential star defender in Braydon Coburn. Adding the raw but obviously skilled Williams may fix this. For now, the Thrashers D is merely okay, enough so that the team can afford to wait on what is projected to be a slow development for the sought-after project blueliner. Statline: (USNTDP) 48 GP, 6 G, 9 A, 15 Pts, 41 PIM Notable Numbers: Only Jakub Bundil (6'5.5, 230 lbs) and Philip Axtell (6'5.5, 250 lbs) are heavier among those 210 Domestic skaters ranked by the CSB. Assets: Extremely efficient physical player; good skater for a big man; loves to rush the puck. Flaws: Raw in every aspect; must read the play and respond better. Career Projection: #2 Defenseman; 40-50 points at peak. 13) Chicago (from Toronto): Bryan Little. Despite moving down, the Hawks will find a very good player available at 13. It may very well be Little, a former top-seven pick that has fallen due to concerns over on-ice motivation and consistency from shift to shift. Despite that, he is still among the safest forwards in the draft, a top-six centreman who has the ability to one day be a #1. The Hawks develop players extremely well, and are the right team to get the most out of Little. Statline: (Barrie, OHL) 64 GP, 42 G, 67 A, 109 Pts, 99 PIM Notable Numbers: Highest point total among 2006-eligible players in the OHL (109). Assets: Excellent hockey sense; will make the safe play when the safe play is needed; aware in all three zones. Flaws: Seemingly becomes bored during games; must further add muscle. Career Projection: #1 Centreman; 65-75 points at peak. 14) Vancouver: Chris Stewart. Big men with big potential are a favorite of the Canucks scouting staff, and Stewart is the most appealing in this draft class. Soft hands and good feet for a big man, Stewart's biggest weakness is his puckhandling and puck posession abilities. Nevertheless, he has a nose for the net and has made great strides as a power forward. He could perhaps replace another big man on right wing in Vancouver in several years. Statline: (Kingston, OHL) 62 GP, 37 G, 50 A, 87 Pts, 113 PIM Notable Numbers: Highest PIM (118) among Top 15 scorers in OHL. Assets: Blazing end-to-end speed; willing to use his size and strength. Flaws: Slows down considerably when handling the puck; is not overly co$nfident in his abilities yet. Career Projection: Top-six winger; 65-70 points at peak. 15) Tampa Bay: Mike Forney. Lacking in every position on the farm, the Lightning need the most help up front. Very few of their forward prospects have a hope of cracking the NHL, making gambles necessary. Forney is this year's most-talked-about such prospect. The second-highest goal-scorer in Minnesota High School hockey this year, he has oft been compared to Blake Wheeler- another good skater with a great nose for the net and developing offensive instincts. Statline: (Thief River, USHS) 21 GP, 23 G, 37 A, 60 Pts, 28 PIM Notable Numbers: Led Section 8A in assists (37) and points (60) despite playing the fewest games (21) among the top 10 scorers. Assets: Stellar wristshot; finds ways into high-percentage scoring areas; draws defenders in before making plays. Flaws: Must fill out 6'2 frame; could fight better through traffic. Career Potential: Top-six winger; 60-65 points at peak. 16) Montreal: Bobby Sanguinetti. A strong collection of forward prospects competing for ice-time and the NHL's best collection of young goalies mean the Habs will most likely look for a blueliner. If they can nab Sanguinetti at 16th, it will be among the draft's greatest steals. Consistency issues aside, the big blueliner boasts a terrific first pass and upper-echelon hockey sense. Add in top-notch mobility, and he projects to be a top-three blueliner who can quarterback a powerplay at the NHL level. Statline: (Owen Sound, OHL) 68 GP, 14 G, 51 A, 65 Pts, 44 PIM Notable Numbers: Highest-scoring '06 eligible defender in CHL (65 points). Assets: Loves to rush and distribute the puck; extremely efficient physical player; can log massive minutes. Flaws: Only average footspeed; needs to add muscle to win one-on-one battles as he does not hit a great deal. Career Potential: #2/3 Defender; 35-45 points at peak. 17) Minnesota (from Edmonton): Ty Wishart. Defense is the name of the game for Minnesota Wild, and that also happens to be Wishart's. A quickly emerging blueliner, Wishart is calm, cool, collected and always makes the right play. His reliability and maturity are the best outside Erik Johnson. His footspeed is a concern, as his is offensive prowess, but the Wild put a premium on players like Wishart. Statline: (Prince George, WHL) 70 GP, 5 G, 23 A, 28 Pts, 135 PIM Notable Numbers: +12 rating paced the Prince George blueline. Assets: Among smartest defenders his age in the world; tremendous positioning; not afraid to move the puck. Flaws: Must cut down on minor penalties; for being 6'4.5, very light. Career Potential: #3/4 Defender; 25-30 points at peak. 18) Colorado: Ivan Vishnevskiy. An aging and largely one-dimensional blueline haunted the Avalanche in the postseason and will continue to do into the future until complete defenders are added. An abundance of them at the draft table may sway the Avs into selecting one after splurging on forwards last year. While Vishnevskiy's calling card is his offense, he is also mobile and smart enough to backcheck when needed. His positioning needs work, but he is the closest thing to a complete defender available here. Statline: (Rouyn Noranda, QMJHL) 54 GP, 13 G, 35 A, 48 Pts, 57 PIM Notable Numbers: 71 points in 50 games for Togliatti Jr. last season. Assets: Hard, accurate first pass; has head on a swivel, allowing him to be constantly aware; underrated shot. Flaws: Endurance a problem; when in a slump, often does too much leading to defensive zone lapses. Career Potential: #2/3 Defender; 35-45 points at peak. 19) Calgary (from San Jose): Ondrej Fiala. A stockpile of prospects and NHL-ready youth allow the Sharks to once again add further assets by trading down. The Calgary Flames should be the team most interested in moving up due to a severe lack of offense in their pipeline. A package of Calgary's 1st and 2nd round selections may be enough to accomplish this goal. At 19th overall, centreman Ondrej Fiala is both a 'Sutter player' and one of the most skilled players available. He is a perfect fit for the Flames, adding two-way play and offense in spades. Statline: (Everett, WHL) 51 GP, 14 G, 21 A, 35 Pts, 26 PIM Notable Numbers: Since February, has totalled a point-per-game (16 GP, 10 G, 6 A, 16 Pts). Assets: Strong defensive play leads to turnovers in all three zones; creative, dynamic stickhandler. Flaws: While not injury-prone, he will need to improve conditioning to avoid future problems. Career Potential: Top-six centreman; 60-75 points at peak. 20) NYR: Ben Shutron. After an excellent regular season, the New York Rangers entered the playoffs as contenders. Four games later, and they were also-rans. The biggest reason for their postseason meltdown? Defense. While promising blueliner Ben Shutron wouldn't be able to help the team next season, he posseses all the tools to one day play in the NHL as a #3/4 defender capable of quarterbacking both even strength and powerplay offense, something lacking on both the Rags team and farm. Statline: (Kingston, OHL) 67 GP, 10 G, 29 A, 39 Pts, 134 PIM Notable Numbers: Had an incredible start to the season, notching 4-12-16 in his first 15 games. Assets: Extremely high confidence in his abilities; not afraid to gamble offensively; slick playmaker. Flaws: Sometimes jumps up into the play too much for his own good; takes a great deal of minor penalties. Career Potential: #3/4 Defenseman; 35-40 points at peak. 21) Philadelphia: Brian Strait. The inability to spend major dollars and mismanagement of available money amounted to the downfall of the 2005-06 Philadelphia Flyers, particularly on defense. Worse yet, little to no help exists in the pipeline to solve the problem 2-5 seasons down the road. It is therefore very likely the Flyers look to defensemen at the draft, and USNTDP blueliner Brian Strait is one of the best available in the second half of the first round. Strait seperates himself from other mean defenders through his extremely mature and efficient decision-making. He is rarely impatient, opting to make the safe play over the dazzling one. This patience began to pay major dividends throughout the season, as the confidence that comes with playing well allowed him to begin playing a more offensive game. The results were nothing but good for Strait and whatever team selects him. Statline: (USNTDP) 47 GP, 2 G, 11 A, 13 Pts, 68 PIM Notable Numbers: Tied for 3rd on the USNTDP in PPG against NCAA competition. Assets: Steady, but unspectacular in his own end; can surprise the opposition with a deft pass or rush. Flaws: Like all physical blueliners, must learn to pick his spots better. Career Potential: #3/4 Defenseman; 25-30 points at peak. 22) Washington (from Nashville): Patrik Berglund. With their second pick of the first round, the Capitals will most likely key on another centre, especially if the best remaining centre is Berglund. The mammoth Swede has the production to match the hype that comes with being a skilled and promising 6'4 forward. A point-per-game in the Swedish junior league over 28 games and a further four points through 21 games in limited Division 1 action left scouts salivating. If he is on the board at 22, there is no reason for the Capitals to pass him up when he is everything they need. Statline: (Vasteras, Swe Jr.) 27 GP, 17 G, 12 A, 29 Pts, 38 PIM Notable Numbers: Third in SOG, +/-, and SH%, and second in points for Team Sweden at the U18 Championships. Assets: Uses his massive frame exceptionally well; top-notch playmaker; deft shooter. Flaws: Does not his wrister enough; could also stand to use soft hands more. Career Potential: #1 Centreman; 60-70 points at peak. 23) Buffalo: David Fischer. Strong drafting and even stronger trading leaves the Sabres in an enviable position: with no major holes on either the big team or in the pipeline, the team can draft BPA. 2005-06's winner of the coveted Mr. Hockey Award, David Fischer is arguably the best available at 23. An excellent skater with a strong head for the game, Fischer projects to fit comfortably anywhere into a team's top four blueliners. With Teppo Numminen aging and no elite blueliner on the way, Fischer is as good a choice as any for the team that has everything. Statline: (Apple Valley, USHS) 25 GP, 8 G, 30 A, 38 Pts, 34 PIM Notable Numbers: Improved seven points on last season's total despite playing three less games. Assets: Tremendous parallel vision; uses his teammates and even opposing players to make smart plays. Flaws: With all his physical tools, Fischer could stand to be more aggressive; lacks muscle. Career Potential: #3 Defenseman; 40-45 points at peak. 24) New Jersey: Chris Summers. A late riser on the draft board, USNDTP blueliner Chris Summers is the type of player bound to be coveted by the Devils. An extremely smart and slick player with good size, Summers is valuable in every situation. He compares to current Devil Paul Martin, a defender any team, especially one that requires help in the future defensively, could use. Statline: (USNTDP) 51 GP, 5 G, 10 A, 15 Pts, 56 PIM Notable Numbers: Highest PIM total (87) among USNTDP defenders. Assets: Intimidating both physically and on the scoreboard; always in the right place; hard, accurate shooter. Flaws: Still growing into his vast arsenal of tools; hesitant at times to join the rush. Career Potential: #3/4 Defenseman; 20-30 points at peak. 25) San Jose (from Calgary): Carl Sneep. With the depth to make a slight reach, the San Jose Sharks may find monster USHS rearguard Carl Sneep an appealing selection. An extremely good skater for a 6'4, 210 lbs behemoth, Sneep has all the tools usually seen in smaller offensive defensemen such as Brian Rafalski. Above-average in every catagory both offensively and defensively, and with a mature, smart game to boot, playing in a higher league would probably have caused his stock to rise dramatically. As it is, he is a man against boys, and the hype should grow when he moves to the NCAA. By that point, some team will have drafted him, and they'll reap the fruit of their efforts. Statline: (Brainerd, USHS) 26 GP, 14 G, 23 A, 37 Pts, 34 PIM Notable Numbers: Recorded 14 goals through 26 games from the blueline. Assets: Strong outlet pass; intelligent decision-maker; great point shot; pro-ready frame. Flaws: Inconsistent offensively; could use his size much better. Career Potential: #3/4 Defenseman, 25-35 points at peak. 26) Anaheim: Dennis Persson. Despite the name change, the Ducks are still Mighty, especially at the draft table. A willingness to cull from Europe has provided both highs (Ilya Bryzgalov, Niclas Havelid, Oleg Tverdovsky) and lows (Michael Holmqvist, Alexei Smirnov, Nikolai Tsulygin), especially on the blueline. As well as the aforementioned Tverdovsky and Havelid, Ruslan Salei and Vitaly Vishnevski were also Ducks draft picks. Persson appears to have the talent and heart to one day reach the lofty heights set by that group. Primarily an offensive defenseman, but capable of playing well in his own end, Persson nevertheless requires improvement in his defensive game. He or a defenseman like him would be an ideal pick for a team with a host of forwards ready for the NHL. Statline: (Vasteras, Swe Jr.) 28 GP, 11 G, 15 A, 26 Pts, 22 PIM Notable Numbers: Had an extremely strong second-half, posting 16 points in 19 games and a +10 rating. Assets: Excellent offensive vision; deceptively accurate passer; top-flight agility. Flaws: Overcommits too often over the blueline; has the speed to make up ground, but lacks motivation at times to do so. Career Potential: #3/4 Defenseman; 30-40 points at peak. 27) Dallas: Riku Helenius. While it may be old hat and perhaps overly presumptous to assume the Stars would once again select a player from Finland in the draft, this pick is about more than just Helenius' nationality. The Finnish keeper is arguably the best available at his position, and it is a position at which the Stars require help for the future. Dan Ellis, Tobias Stephan and Mike Smith all project to be backups, and with another playoff meltdown putting Marty Turco on eggshells for the foreseeable future, Helenius would be an excellent selection by the organization here. A 2.68 GAA in the regular season for a so-so junior squad was quickly forgotten thanks to a stellar outing at the World U-18s. Statline: (Ilves, Fin Jr.) 26 GP, 2.68 GAA, 0.919 SV% Notable Numbers:[/u] 1.83 GAA and 0.941 SV% in 6 games at the World U18 Championships. Assets: Utilizes his massive frame extremely well; elite agility and speed; game-breaking mentality. Flaws: Tends to overcommit to the shooter at times; plays backhands and wraparounds awkwardly. Career Potential: Starting Goaltender; 2.25 GAA at peak. 28) Ottawa: Jonathan Bernier. Another team on the verge of revamping their future goaltending plans thanks to a poor postseason, the Senators may opt to diverge away from selecting based on need- defensemen in this case- to selecting BPA. If so, Jonathan Bernier would be a long-overdue selection in the latter stages of the first round. The consensus top goalie in his draft class since 2004, a rocky draft year at various international tournaments has put Bernier on shakey ground. Still, there is no questioning that he has all the talent needed to be a starting goalie in the show. He may simply need one or two seasons to iron out his mental game, time the Senators should be able spare. Statline: (Lewiston, QMJHL) 54 GP, 0.908 SV% Notable Numbers: 1.71 GAA and 0.941 SV% at U18s. Assets: Pro-ready glovehand; excellent reflexes; game-stealing talent. Flaws: Potentially lacks the mindset to play in big games; questionable rebound control; must add muscle. Career Potential: Starting Goaltender; 2.20 GAA at peak. 29) Detroit: Alexander Vasyunov. Hyped since his childhood, when he broke Ilya Kovalchuk's already-impressive Russian minor hockey records, Alexander Vasyunov encountered a problem common of one-dimensional offensive forwards: question marks. Rumors of poor attitude and work ethic put a damper on what was overall an excellent season offensively for the forward, who scored 29 goals in 29 2nd Division games. Just as quickly, the question marks began to disappear when he was named the best forward at the 5-Nations tournament in February and after a strong performance at the World U18s. Gone from his game were the all-to-commonplace stretches of coasting and apathy. What replaced it was sheer domination. It would be a major coup to see Vasyunov fall all the way to 30 despite having top-five talent, but the Red Wings will most certainly cash in if that is the case. They have very little problem selecting those players around whom their are questions, and the result is almost always success. Statline: (Yarolsavl 2, RPL) 29 GP, 29 G, 6 A, 35 Pts, 14 PIM Notable Numbers: Best Forward at the 5-Nations Tournament in Russia Assets: Elite skater; amazing stickhandler; accurate, hard shot. Flaws: Does not enjoy backchecking; passionate forechecking can lead to turnovers. Career Potential: Top-six winger; 65-75 points at peak. 30) St. Louis (From Carolina, Stanley Cup winners): Trevor Lewis. While the Blues are certainly underrated in terms of their forward prospects, only two are capable of making an impact within the top six any time soon: NCAA stars David Backes and T.J. Oshie. Others with considerable talent and potential- Timofei Shishkanov, Alexei Shkotov and Carl Soderberg among them- have seemingly stalled in development. A homerun prospect is essential. However, the BPA at this point, Claude Giroux, plays in a league shunned by the St. Louis scouting staff. Additionally, the team has shown a preference for American-born players in either high school or Junior A. Thus, it would be no surprise if the Blues were to draft the second-leading scorer in the USHL in 2005-06, offensive dynamo Trevor Lewis. Similar in overall skill level and skating ability to Oshie, Lewis is an all-around force. He fits the needs and drafting tendencies of the Blues to a T. Statline: (Des Moines, USHL) 56 GP, 35 G, 40 A, 75 Pts, 69 PIM Notable Numbers: Most shots, PIM, +/-, SH%, GWG and SHG among top-five USHL scorers. Assets: Quick, accurate release; explosive standup skater; a threat in any situation. Flaws: Needs to fill out frame; could be more involved in traffic. Career Potential: Top-six winger; 65-70 points at peak. 31) St. Louis: Mark Mitera. The Blues are guaranteed two picks towards the end of the first round, essentially giving them three first round selections. If they opt to add another defenseman for the future, CCHA standout Mike Mitera would be a fine choice. A combination of tremendous endurance and defensive reliability have made him a fixture on Team USA at various tournaments, including the 2005-06 World Junior Chamionships. His ability to log many minutes and log them well would give the Blues yet another player capable of eating up minutes at even strength. A top-six of Johnson, Jackman, Wideman, Mitera, Backman and Jackson would be formidable to say the least. Statline: (Michigan, CCHA) 39 GP, 0 G, 10 A, 10 Pts, 51 PIM Notable Numbers: Second in freshman scoring (10 pts) and +/- (+5) by a Wolverines defenseman. Assets: Steady, stay-at-home blueliner; takes care of business in the crease; good selection of shots. Flaws: Despite having a decent outlet pass, he rarely chooseds to utilize it. Career Potential: #3/4 Defenseman; 25-30 points at peak.