The 2008 NHL Draft might lack the big name star potential of a Sidney Crosby or an Alexander Ovechkin, but it stands to be one of the deepest drafts since 2003. The one specter looming over the draft is the state of the NHL-IIHL transfer agreement situation – especially the explosive situation involving Russia and the development of their Continental Hockey League – which the Russians hope will rival that of the NHL.

While the Russians have only been able to “steal away” NHLers like John Grahame and Chris Simon, they have rattled their hockey abers about luring away free agents like Jaromir Jagr and other Europeans. The biggest impact will be felt in the draft in the status of Nikita Filatov.

Last year, the hockey world watched Alexei Cherepanov fall to the New York Rangers at #17. Granted, Filatov does not have as many on-ice questions as Cherepanov had, but one has to wonder if the lack of transfer agreement will hurt his – and other Europeans – chances of being drafted as high as they should be.

It is a decision that all NHL teams will be facing. In the past, teams took the stance that the New Jersey Devils and Director of Scouting David Conte took.

“We draft for personality, not nationality,” Conte told Everett J. Merrill of the Hockey Digest back in November 2000 – obviously well before the NHL-IIHL tiff.

As expected, teams have changed their thinking in reference to European players in general, and Russian players specifically, in the light of the transfer agreement problems.

“Draft the North American because you know he will play or at least try to play,” Edmonton Oilers scout Kevin Prendergast told Alan Adams in The Hockey News’ (THN) Draft Preview.

Adams also detailed the drop in the number of Russian players drafted since the start of the new millennium. In 2007 only nine Russian players were drafted – as opposed to 44 in the 2000 Draft.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), Central Scouting (CSS), Red Line Report (RLR), McKeen’s (McK), Canada’s TSN (TSN) International Scouting Service (ISS). TSN and ISS each list a prospect’s comparable NHL player. CSS divides their ratings between North Americans (NA) and Europeans (Euro). The draft positions used are as of June 15, 2008.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning – Steven Stamkos (C)
THN: #1 – CSS: #1 NA skater – RLR: #1 – McK: #1
ISS: #1 (Joe Sakic) – TSN: #1 (Steve Yzerman)
The consensus number one player in the draft provides an excellent replacement for the traded Brad Richards. ISS has had rated the number one 2008 draftee since November 2006. Given the success of Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner, Stamkos should make the jump to the NHL as a 19-year-old. With comparisons to Sakic and Yzerman, you now know why Barry Melrose is looking forward to joining new owner Oren Koules.

2. Los Angeles Kings – Drew Doughty (D)
THN: #2 – CSS: #3 NA skater – RLR: #3 – McK: #4
ISS: #4 (Brian Campbell) – TSN: #2 (Raymond Bourque)
The potential run on defensemen begins with the Kings adding a potential partner for Jack Johnson as L.A. goes for a Can-Am connection on the blue line. Doughty is used to playing with top rearguards as he was partnered with 2007 first round draft pick Karl Alzner.

3. Atlanta Thrashers – Zack Bogosian (D)
THN: #3 – CSS: #2 NA skater – RLR: #4 – McK: #2
ISS: #2 (Dion Phaneuf) – TSN: #3 (Rob Blake)
The Thrashers could use some help for Ilya Kovalchuk, but they can address that need later in the first round. Like Doughty, Bogosian is a solid two-way blueliner who needs to fill out his frame a bit (6-2/197) before making the jump to elite defenseman in the NHL.

4. St. Louis Blues – Alex Pietrangelo (D)
THN: #5 – CSS: #6 NA skater – RLR: #7 – McK: #3
ISS: #5 (Jay Bouwmeester) – TSN: #4 (Sergei Zubov)
While the Blues have Erik Johnson, they have used high draft picks on forwards in the past couple of years so John Davidson and company will draft Pietrangelo who will add offense to their defense and be a future QB of their power play.

5. New York Islanders – Nikita Filatov (LW)
THN: #4 – CSS: #1 Euro skater – RLR: #2 – McK: #7
ISS: #3 (Nikolai Zherdev) – TSN: #5 (Daniel Alfredsson)
Garth Snow could very easily continue the run on d-men by adding a physical d-man. However, look for the Islanders to make a splash and throw caution to the wind – even with the lack of a transfer agreement. ISS says Filatov “Could be the offensive cornerstone of a franchise. Rumors are swirling that the Rangers are looking to jump ahead of the Isles so they can draft Filatov and reunite him with his World Junior Championship (WJC) linemates Artem Anisimov and Alexei Cherepanov.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets – Luke Schenn (D)
THN: #6 – CSS: #5 NA skater – RLR: #6– McK: #5
ISS: #6 (Adam Foote) – TSN: #6 (Adam Foote)
The comparison to Foote is ironic given the fact the blue Jackets signed the veteran d-man before dealing at the trade deadline. Schenn is your prototypical hard-hitting defensive defenseman – with an added ability to make the first pass out of the zone.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs – Cody Hodgson (C)
THN: #8 – CSS: #9 NA skater – RLR: #9 – McK: #9
ISS: #9 (Daymond Langkow) – TSN: #9 (Chris Drury)
With Mats Sundin’s future up in the air, the Maple Leafs will be looking to find a future replacement. While Colin Wilson comes close second, Toronto will go with the captain of Canada’s Under-18 team. He scored 12 points in leading Canada to gold and added five goals in as many OHL playoff games for Brampton.

8. Phoenix Coyotes – Tyler Myers (D)
THN: #11 – CSS: #4 NA skater – RLR: #10 – McK: #19
ISS: #15 (Zdeno Chara) – TSN: #11 (Zdeno Chara)
GM Don Maloney kicks off six in the first three rounds by drafting the high-risk/high-reward Myers. Maloney has a history of drafting these types of players in the top half of the draft (see Hugh Jessiman). Myers has all the tools to be the next Zdeno Chara.

9. Nashville Predators – Colin Wilson (C)
THN: #7 – CSS: #10 NA skater – RLR: #11 – McK: #12
ISS: #8 (Mike Richards) – TSN: #8 (Ron Francis)
It will be interesting to see how potential ownership problems play out in reference to the draft. With the Predators having depth on defense, the son of former NHLer Carey Wilson helps David Poile build the same depth at forward. Wilson is a big-time two-way center who projects as a future NHL captain.

10. Vancouver Canucks – Kyle Beach (C)
THN: #10 – CSS: #7 NA skater – RLR: #14 – McK: #21
ISS: #13 (Terry Ryan) – TSN: #10 (Claude Lemieux)
The tragic death of Luc Bourdon could cause new GM Mike Gillis to look at Colton Teubert, but in the end the need for help for the Sedins wins out. One scout told THN that Beach (6-3/203) is a bigger version of Sean Avery. Beach is a physical player who has had discipline problems on and off the ice, but Vancouver could use his feisty style of play.

11. Chicago Blackhawks –Mikkel Boedker (LW)
THN: #9 – CSS: #11 NA skater – RLR: #5 – McK: #6
ISS: #7 (Marian Gaborik) – TSN: #7 (Milan Michalek)
The Blackhawks could have used Beach’s edgy play, but they missed out by one pick. They could look to trade down and select one of the top goaltending prospects. If they stay at #11, they should go for Boedker. The Danish playmaker made a fine transition to the OHL last season based on his outstanding skating and puck-handling ability.

12. Anaheim Ducks – Zach Boychuk (C)
THN: #12 – CSS: #8 NA skater – RLR: #13 – McK: #22
ISS: #12 (Paul Kariya) – TSN: #14 (Jason Blake)
The Ducks are looking at having to replaced Scott Niedermayer and/or Teemu Selanne. Anaheim owns Edmonton’s first, second and third round picks as compensation for losing Dustin Penner.

13. Buffalo Sabres – Joe Colborne (LW)
THN: #25 – CSS: #28 NA skater – RLR: #28 – McK: #27
ISS: #16 (Jason Arnott) – TSN: #19 (Joe Thornton)
Sabres THN beat writer John Vogl wrote that the team has speedy forwards without size. Colbourne put up big numbers in Junior A (33 goals and 57 assists in 55 games) and he will continue his development at the University of Denver. His game is keyed by strong skating ability, hockey sense, strength and size and good hockey sense. The key will be his ability to build on his Jr. A success.

14. Carolina Hurricanes – Colton Teubert (D)
THN: #13 – CSS: #18 NA skater – RLR: #14 – McK: #14
ISS: #18 (Robin Regehr) – TSN: #13 (Shea Weber)
Carolina needs to build up their resources on defense. It is a matter of whether they want a physical blueliner (Teubert) or an offensive defenseman (Aaron Ness or Michael Del Zotto). While scouts debate his hockey sense and offensive ability, there is no question that he is a defensive defenseman who is not only physical, but he can be downright mean and nasty.

15. Nashville Predators – Mattias Tedenby (LW)
THN: #16 – CSS: #3 Euro skater – RLR: #12 – McK: #23
ISS: #14 (Denis Savard) – TSN: #26 (Mats Naslund)
Poile continues to add to talent at forward when he drafts one of the best puck handlers in the draft – as well as one of the best skaters. The only thing that prevents him from being a top five draft pick is his size (5-10/176). ISS calls him a “strong two-way player with major offensive up side.”

16. Boston Bruins – John Carlson (D)
THN: #30 – CSS: #17 NA skater – RLR: #37 – McK: #16
ISS: #21 (Bryan McCabe) – TSN: #22 (Mike Komisarek)
The Bruins will want to add a defenseman who has some offensive ability. Del Zotto (5-11/211) will get a long look, but Carlson’s size (6-2/212) will win the day – even though Carlson played in the USHL. Carlson passed on a scholarship offer from the University of Massachusetts to join the London Knights (OHL).

17. Calgary Flames – Greg Nemisz (C)
THN: #21 – CSS: #22 NA skater – RLR: #45 – McK: #32
ISS: #28 (Jason Allison) – TSN: #27 (John LeClair)
Nemisz (6-3/197) offers the potential to be a power forward with scoring ability. He showed good progress in his second IHL season – nearly doubling his point total. ISS says he is a “power forward with skill to contribute offensively”.

18. Ottawa Senators – Chet Pickard (G)
THN: #32 – CSS: #2 NA goalie – RLR: #25 – McK: #8
ISS: #1 goalie (No player comparison) – TSN: #18 (Olaf Kolzig)
The Senators need to address issues on defense, but their number one need is to find a number one goaltender. Carey Price’s success will pave the way for his former Tri City backup.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets – Joshua Bailey (C)
THN: #14 – CSS: #14 NA skater – RLR: #15 – McK: #11
ISS: #10 (Andrew Brunette) – TSN: #12 (Cory Stillman)
Columbus might look to trade this pick for someone who can step in and play now. If they keep the pick, they will draft a good two-way player like Bailey – who kept up a high level of play despite the death of teammate Mickey Renaud. THN wrote, “He’s regarded as a low-maintenance player who could be future captain material …”

20. New York Rangers – Kirill Petrov (LW)
THN: #100 – CSS: #2 Euro skater – RLR: #8 – McK: #36
ISS: #17 (Ryan Getzlaf) – TSN: #43 (Andrei Kostitsyn)
The Rangers might be the team most likely to explore a trade. They could look to move up for a Filatov or one of the top defensemen or they could look to move down in the first round and add additional draft picks. If they stay at #20, they should look to draft Petrov. The Blueshirts have the money to make any transfer problem go away. ISS praises him for his “excellent secondary scoring option” and for using his size “to protect the puck very well with his body”

21. New Jersey Devils – Thomas McCollum (G)
THN: #38 – CSS: #1 NA goalie – RLR: #43 – McK: #25
ISS: #2 goalie (No player comparison) – TSN: #24 (Ed Belfour)
Lou Lamoriello has never been shy about drafting talent despite size (Scott Gomez and Zach Parise) or about taking chances in the first round (Adrian Foster). The one facet where the Devils GM has failed is in finding a successor to Martin Brodeur. Two former first rounder draft picks (Jean-Francois Damphousse and Ari Ahonen) did not pan out. Look for the Devils to try again with the Guelph goaltender getting the call over Jacob Markstrom and Jake Allen. If they pass on a goalie, look for them to follow the Gomez/Parise route and draft Jordan Eberle.

22. Edmonton Oilers – Michael Del Zotto (D)
THN: #15 – CSS: #15 NA skater – RLR: #32 – McK: #28
ISS: #23 (Kris Letang) – TSN: #15 (Mathieu Schneider)
The Oilers could make it two goaltenders in a row but, in the end, they will not pass over the offensive ability Del Zotto offers on the blue line. ISS rated him the 7th best 2008 prospect just one year ago. Del Zotto’s stock dropped as he added just six points to his rookie total of 57. ISS calls him “an offensive style of defenseman who at times will play like a 4th forward.”

23. Washington Capitals – Jacob Markstrom (G)
THN: #19 – CSS: #1 Euro goalie – RLR: #35 – McK: #13
ISS: #3 goalie (No player comparison) – TSN: #23 (Kari Lehtonen)
Many people pencil Chet Pickard in for the Caps because of the success of fellow Tri-City netminder Carey Price and the fact that Olaf Kolzig is part owner of the Americans. However, with Washington parting ways with Kolzig and Ottawa and New Jersey beating them to Pickard and McCollum, the Caps will go for the young Swedish netminder. Washington has shown an ability to succeed with foreign born netminders (Kolzig and Cristobal Huet).

24. Minnesota Wild – Luca Sbisa (D)
THN: #17 – CSS: #12 NA skater – RLR: #20 – McK: #15
ISS: #11 (Wade Redden) – TSN: #15 (Tomas Kaberle)
The Wild were burned in 2004 when they drafted defenseman A.J. Thelen 12th overall, but they will return to the blue line with Sbisa. He has good size (6-2/190) and is projected as a two-way defenseman. The Swiss-born defender got a jump start on his North American career by joining Lethbridge (WHL). ISS calls him “a puck moving defenseman with mobility and good hockey sense.”

25. Montreal Canadiens – Zac Dalpe (C/RW)
THN: #29 – CSS: #16 NA skater – RLR: #27 – McK: #26
ISS: #20 (Mark Recchi) – TSN: #32 (Travis Zajac)
Dalpe draws comparisons to Travis Zajac because he will be going from Jr. A to collegiate hockey (Ohio State). Dalpe’s offensive ability does not come at the expense of playing defense. Until he fills out his frame, Dalpe (6-0/170) will have to rely on his skating and hockey sense.

26. Buffalo Sabres – Jordan Eberle (C )
THN: #22 – CSS: #33 NA skater – RLR: # – McK: #
ISS: #30 (Brad Boyes) – TSN: # 29 (Joe Mullen)
While Kirill Petrov and Evgeny Grachev have the size and skills Buffalo needs, ownership is not going to invest the money it might take to fight through the red tape the lack of a transfer agreement might present. As a result, the Sabres will go for Eberle’s goal scoring ability and offensive creativity.

27. Philadelphia Flyers – Erik Karlsson (D)
THN: #71 – CSS: #4 Euro skater – RLR: #22 – McK: #33
ISS: #22 (Niklas Kronwall) – TSN: # 20 (Kimmo Timonen)
With no picks in the second and third rounds, the Flyers have to be sure about their first pick. Karlsson packs a solid physical game despite his size (5-11/165) and is a skilled player who has the ability to use his playmaking ability to succeed in the transition game.

28. Los Angeles Kings – Daultan Leveille (C)
THN: #27 – CSS: #47 NA skater – RLR: #60 – McK: #53
ISS: #48 (No player comparison) – TSN: #55 (Phil Kessel)
With three picks in the top 32, the Kings are in a position to reach a bit at this point in the draft. Leveille is one of the strongest and fastest skaters available in the draft. He will be making the jump from Jr. B to Michigan State. He scored 30 points in 16 playoff games – overcoming a leg injury.

29. Atlanta Thrashers – Corey Trivino (C)
THN: #36 – CSS: #49 NA skater – RLR: #40 – McK: #24
ISS: #26 (Chris Higgins) – TSN: #36 (Stephen Weiss)
Trivino is a solid two-way player who saved his best play for the post-season. He scored 22 points in 15 OPJHL games. In addition, the playmaker tallied 7 points in 7 games for Canada’s U-18 team.

30. Detroit Red Wings – Anton Gustafsson (C)
THN: #24 – CSS: #5 Euro skater – RLR: #44– McK: #44
ISS: #34 (No player comparison) – TSN: #30 (Jordan Staal)
Gustafsson, son of former NHLer Bengt Gustafsson, is two-way type of player the Red Wings crave. Scouts have had a problem getting a handle on him because of injuries during junior tournaments. Gustafsson (6-2/194) is a potential power forward who plays a physical game and is tough to knock off the puck.

First Round Draft Pick Transactions

• Pick 9 (Florida to Nashville): Nashville traded G Tomas Vokoun to Florida for Detroit’s 2nd-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft (pick 58, previously acquired) and Florida’s 1st- and 2nd-round picks in 2008 (June 22, 2007).
• Pick 12 (Edmonton to Anaheim): Edmonton transferred its 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-round picks in the 2008 Entry Draft to Anaheim for the signing of Restricted Free Agent LW Dustin Penner (July 3, 2007).
• Pick 19 (Colorado to Columbus): Columbus traded D Adam Foote to Colorado for Colorado’s 1st-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft and a conditional pick in 2009 (Feb. 26, 2008).
• Pick 22 (Anaheim to Edmonton): Edmonton traded D Chris Pronger to Anaheim for RW Joffrey Lupul, D Ladislav Smid, Anaheim’s 1st-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, and 1st- and 2nd-round picks in 2008 (July 3, 2006).
• Pick 26 (San Jose to Buffalo): Buffalo traded D Brian Campbell and its 7th-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft to San Jose for RW Steve Bernier and its 1st-round pick in 2008 (Feb. 26, 2008).
• Pick 29 (Pittsburgh to Atlanta): Atlanta traded Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a 1st-round selection in 2008.

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