Blues likely to take defenseman Johnson No. 1
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Barring a trade or some other unexpected development, St. Louis Blues general manager Larry Pleau said the team will take 18-year-old defenseman Erik Johnson with the first overall pick in Saturday's NHL entry draft in Vancouver.
"As we sit right now, it sure looks like the defenseman," Pleau said of Johnson, a Bloomington, Minn., native, who played for the U.S. National Team Development Program the past two seasons. "But you never know what somebody's going to throw at you over the next 48 hours," Pleau told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Friday's edition.
Penguins to deal pick?
VANCOUVER -- The talk is the Pittsburgh Penguins are getting ready to wheel and deal before tomorrow's draft.
The word is the Nashville Predators, trying to get into the first round, have offered prospect defenceman Shea Weber to the Penguins exchange for the No. 2 selection.
The Penguins have also had conversations with the Carolina Hurricanes about defenceman Jack Johnson. Carolina would use the pick to take Peterborough prospect Jordan Staal, the brother of Canes winger Eric Staal.
B's Draft Prospects Appear Strong
That would leave the B's with one of four top-rated forwards in the draft - Phil Kessel, Jonathan Toews, Jordan Staal or Nicklas Backstrom.
The most interesting is Kessel, simply because that for so long it appeared the University of Minnesota player was going to be the top pick overall but his stock has dropped in several rankings to No. 5. Kessel's reputation took a hit in last winter's World Junior Championships, even though he had 11 points in five games.
But he has perhaps the best speed in the draft, a sizzling commodity in today's NHL.
"There are a lot of rumors that he'd slip to five and, if he does, we'd think very strongly of taking him," Bruins director of amateur scouting Scott Bradley said yesterday.
Kessel's the 2006 Draft wild card
VANCOUVER -- Phil Kessel Jr. is the enigma in this year's Entry Draft. He is one of the most highly regarded American prospects in years, but could be taken anywhere from first through seventh, depending on the needs of the various NHL teams that lead the draft.
Kessel is the highest-scoring player ever to go through the American National Team Development Program, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association rookie of the year, the leading American scorer at the 2006 World Junior Championship and the driving force behind the gold-medal-winning Team USA two years ago at the World Under-18 Championship.
He may be the best skater in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, he can shoot and score and sets up linemates like a seasoned pro.
What's not to like? Two words: Holy Cross. The previously unheralded Central Massachusetts college upset Kessel's University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, 4-3, in overtime in the NCAA West Regional back in March, the biggest victory in Crusaders' hockey history.
Google News Search that searches for the any of the top 5 players names [hit 'search news' for the latest]
CNNSI Mock Draft
5 RW Kyle Okposo Des Moines (USHL) 6-0 195
With Backstrom off the board, it wouldn't surprise me if the Bruins traded down to get the player they want. But if they keep the pick, expect the unexpected from a team that has marched to its own beat -- not always successfully, I might add -- in the last few drafts. A mini power forward like Brenden Morrow, Okposo's stock has risen steadily, thanks to his undeniable gifts around the net and his character -- a trait prized by incoming GM Peter Chiarelli.
Edited by SoxScout, 23 June 2006 - 01:55 PM.