The 2010 NHL Draft can be described as a “Tale of Two Forwards”. Everyone expects Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin to be the first two players selected on Friday night, June 25. However, the order of their selection is still up in the air. Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini is playing his cards very close to the vest – and possibly with good reason. According to James Murphy in his NESN blog, the top pick in the Draft might be in play.

“There was plenty of speculation – and there promises to be more – that the Bruins and Oilers may swap picks because the Bruins reportedly have their hearts set on Hall, but so far, all Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini have done is admitted to talking,” Murphy wrote on June 11. “Both Seguin and Hall (along with other prospects) visited Boston recently, but there is still no indication as to who will go first”.

While the Hall-Seguin Debate continues, the next Draft topic is the possible run on defense as Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley and Erik Gudbranson could go three through five. Much as there is debate on Hall or Seguin, the same debate can be made among the three defensemen.

NHL Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire provided insight into his scouts providing a past or current NHL comparable for each of their Top 30 North American skaters.

“As unfair as it is to the NHL players in making these comparisons, we feel it provides the public a good idea what they could expect from these prospects,” McGuire explained to NHL.com. “It offers them a visual picture and recognizable name to associate with each of the players with. Keep in mind, these brainstorming comparisons could be something we see in the form of leadership, a specific shot, toughness, or skating ability.”

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), TSN.ca (TSN), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters, European skaters, North American goaltenders and European goaltenders. TSN ranked the Top 75 players and listed fine Honorable Mentions. In an exclusive to NHL.com, CS provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player for their Top 30 North American skaters – and is listed here when applicable. ISS also provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

The draft positions are as of June 23 and presume that no trades will have been made since then.

1. Edmonton Oilers – Taylor Hall – LW
THN: # 1 —– McK: # 1 —– TSN: # 1
CS: # 2NA (Zach Parise) —– ISS: # 1 (Pavel Bure)
Hall is the pick with the first overall selection based on his ability to score (three years of 40+ goals) and his success in the Memorial Cup and World Junior Championships – a plus for an Edmonton team looking to return to the heydays of the 1980s.

2. Boston Bruins – Tyler Seguin – C
THN: # 2 —– McK: # 2 —– TSN: # 2
CS: # 1NA (Steve Yzerman) —– ISS: # 1 (Steve Yzerman)
Seguin in a close second and an excellent “consolation prize” as the Bruins reap the benefits of Toronto signing Phil Kessel. While Hall might be the better scorer, Seguin might be the better overall player.

3. Florida Panthers — Erik Gudbranson – D
THN: # 5 —– McK: # 4 —– TSN: # 3
CS: # 4NA (Dion Phaneuf) —– ISS: # 7 (Chris Pronger)
Just like the Hall-Seguin decision was a tough call, so is the Gudbranson-Fowler-Gormley race. The Panthers should go with Gudbranson who brings size (6-4/195), a developing offensive game and solid skating for someone his size. However, new GM Dale Tallon could throw everyone for a loop and take Jack Campbell here.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets – Cam Fowler – D
THN: # 3 —– McK: # 6 —– TSN: # 5
CS: # 5NA (Mike Green) —– ISS: # 5 (Duncan Keith)
While the Blue Jackets could use some help at forward to team with captain Rick Nash, Fowler’s offensive ability and skating skills are already NHL-ready and are too much to pass on. While he still needs to be more physical, it should come as he matures.

5. New York Islanders – Brett Connolly – LW
THN: # 4 —– McK: # 7 —– TSN: # 8
CS: # 3NA (Peter Forsberg) —– ISS: # 13 (Chris Stewart)
While the Islanders could very well select Brandon Gormley, GM Garth Snow should go with one of the Draft’s most elite offensive players. There is a concern over his hip flexor injury, which limited him to 15 games. However, his upside is too much to pass on and he should form a deadly offensive pairing with John Tavares.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning – Brandon Gormley – D
THN: # 7 —– McK: # 5 —– TSN: # 4
CS: # 6NA (Chris Phillips) —– ISS: # 3 (Nicklas Lidstrom)
Steve Yzerman has the chance to set the tone for his administration in Tampa Bay. You can expect him to call on his experience in Detroit. While there are good forwards available, Gormley gets the call because blue chip blueliners are much harder to come by as Yzerman brings in a complement to Victor Hedman.

7. Carolina Hurricanes – Nino Niederreiter – RW
THN: # 8 —– McK: # 10 —– TSN: # 7
CS: # 12NA (Erik Cole) —– ISS: # 6 (Brendan Shanahan)
GM Jim Rutherford will be very busy in LA as the Hurricanes have 11 total draft picks (including three second rounders and a pair of third rounders). If Carolina does not move up, then Niederreiter brings in a solid power forward to team with Eric Staal.

8. Atlanta Thrashers – Jack Campbell – G
THN: # 13 —– McK: # 3 —– TSN: # 9
CS: # 2NA Goalie —– ISS: # 1 Goalie (No comparison)
With the Thrashers having dealt away their second 1st round pick, Atlanta will look to shore up their goaltending situation by drafting the netminder who backstopped the USA to the World Junior Championship. His decision to bypass the University of Michigan in order to play for Windsor (OHL) will speed up his path to the NHL.

9. Minnesota Wild – Ryan Johansen – C
THN: # 12 —– McK: # 8 —– TSN: # 6
CS: # 10NA (Jason Spezza) —– ISS: # 8 (Eric Staal)
The Wild will get some pressure from home to draft Duluth-born Derek Forbort, but Minnesota has not gone overboard to draft home town talent. Plus, the Wild need to add depth at forward and Johansen is a solid two-way center who can play in all situations. Johansen has been a fast rise as he continues to fill out physically which means the best is yet to come.

10. New York Rangers – Vladimir Tarasenko – RW
THN: # 14 —– McK: # 20 —– TSN: # 16
CS: # 2E —– ISS: # 4 (Ziggy Palffy)
The Rangers figure to be in the chase for Johansen, Niederreiter and Skinner. In the end, the Rangers should go for Tarasenko who has big-time scoring ability. The 18-year-old held his own in the KHL. The Rangers are one of the few teams who have the means (i.e. money) to get around the lack of a transfer agreement. They showed no fear when they drafted the late Alexei Cherepanov in 2007. GM Glen Sather could use this pick as “incentive” in a deal to move one of his bad contracts.

11. Dallas Stars – Derek Forbort – D
THN: # 11 —– McK: # 18 —– TSN: # —– TSN: # 11
CS: # 9NA (Erik Johnson) —– ISS: # 10 (Erik Johnson)
The 18-year-old combines size (6-5/200) and solid skating into a package that projects to a top three d-men at the very least. Teams will be looking for these type of blueliners hoping to follow the success of Buffalo’s Tyler Myers.

12. Anaheim Ducks – Mikael Granlund – C
THN: # 10 —– McK: # 9 —– TSN: # 13
CS: # 1E —– ISS: # 15 (Saku Koivu)
The time is coming when both Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne will have to hang up their skates. At 18, Granlund is playing in Finland’s elite league and playing well (40 points in 47 games). The 5-10/180 center has excellent hockey sense and will be a perfect replacement for fellow Finn Saku Koivu.

13. Phoenix Coyotes – Nick Bjugstad – C
THN: # 9 —– McK: # 33 —– TSN: # 19
CS: # 13NA (Andrew Brunette) —– ISS: # 21 (David Backes)
Ownership problems didn’t hamper the franchise during the season, but might play a part in the Draft. GM Don Maloney might be willing to wait on a prospect like Bjugstad, whose uncle Scott played in the NHL. The 18-year-old Bjugstad has the size and skill, but he needs to find and maintain a consistent level of play.

14. St. Louis Blues – Alexander Burmistrov – C
THN: # 6—– McK: # 13 —— TSN: # 12
CS: # 11NA (Maxim Afinogenov) —– ISS: # 14 (Denis Savard)
With new goaltender Jaroslav Halak in hand, and having dealt Lars Eller, St. Louis should turn to Burmistrov. Alex is as skilled a playmaker as there is the Draft. However, he must bulk up on his slight frame (5-11/157 on a good day). He uses his speed and puckhandling skill to compensate for his lack of size. Concerns about the KHL should be lessened given that he played with Barrie in the OHL last season.

15. Florida Panthers Jeffrey Skinner – C
THN: # 25 —– McK: # 12 —– TSN: # 10
CS: # 34NA —– ISS: # 9 (Steve Shutt)
If Jack Campbell should happen to drop to this spot, GM Tallon would be wise to draft him. If not then Skinner gets the call from Florida in an attempt to replace the production loss with the trade of Nathan Horton. Skinner scored 70 goals last season – including 20 in the playoffs

16. Ottawa Senators – Jonathan Merrill – D
THN: # 31 —– McK: # 23 —– TSN: # 22
CS: # 21NA (Jordan Leopold) —– ISS: # 11 (Rob Blake)
One scout told the THN that Merrill was in the same class as Forbort and Gormley. He combines size (6-3/200), skill and hockey sense – although he still has some maturing to do based on his suspension by the USNTDP for violating team rules. However as ISS wrote, “Merrill has Norris Trophy potential”.

17. Colorado Avalanche Austin Watson – RW
THN: # 15 —– McK: # 19 —– TSN: # 14
CS: # 14NA (Kris Draper) —– ISS: # 12 (Jordan Staal)
Watson is a solid two-way forward who competes hard and works every shift and projects out to be a team leader. Watson is an excellent complement to Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny, and might be a future captain of the Avs.

18. Nashville Predators – Quinton Howden – C/LW
THN: # 23 —– McK: # 37 —– TSN: # 26
CS: # 19NA (Todd Bertuzzi) —– ISS: # 16 (Jamie Langenbrunner)
With Jason Arnott and Dan Hamhuis traded in the days leading up to the Draft, the Predators are a bit of a wildcard when it comes to figuring out their selection. Howden is the solid two-way player Nashville likes. He averaged a point a game in Juniors and was used as a checker by Canada in international play. Howden has outstanding hockey sense combined with a hard shot that is accurate (he won the accuracy contest in the Prospects Game). At 6-2/180, he will add some size to Nashville’s forward corps – especially as he matures and gets bigger.

19. Los Angeles Kings – Emerson Etem – C/RW
THN: # 17 —– McK: # 14 —– TSN: # 17
CS: # 8NA (Glenn Anderson) —– ISS: # 18 (Martin Havlat)
Etem and the Kings are a natural fit given that the forward was born in Long Beach, CA. His game is keyed by his speed – which might have been helped by his inline skating when he was younger. He uses his speed to key his offensive game. He needs to gain consistency and learn to be less of a perimeter player.

20. Pittsburgh Penguins – Jarred Tinordi – D
THN: # 22 —– McK: # 25 —– TSN: # 23
CS: # 38NA —– ISS: # 25 (Robyn Regehr)
Tinordi is a chip off the old block as he is a physical defensive d-man like his father Mark who played in the NHL. The Penguins showed that they missed the size and physical play of Hal Gill so Tinordi is a perfect replacement. Despite his size (6-6/205), Tinordi is a good skater and passer. The best part is that he will get bigger – and better.

21. Detroit Red Wings – Evgeny Kuznetsov – C
THN: # 18 —– McK: # 11 —– TSN: # 24
CS: # 3E —– ISS: # 19 (Slava Kozlov)
Detroit has a long history of success with Russian players so they might not be scared off – even though Kuznetsov played in the KHL as a 17-year-old. He as skilled an offensive player in the Draft and he is not afraid to mix it up despite his size (6-0/172). He has represented Russia in various tournaments with mixed results, but when he was on he was head-and-shoulders above the rest of the players.

22. Phoenix Coyotes – Dylan McIlrath – D
THN: # 26 —– McK: # 15 —– TSN: # 15
CS: # 17NA (Ed Jovanovski) —– ISS: # 31 (Boris Valabik)
You have to love a player who is given the nickname “The Undertaker” as one scout did when talking to THN. As you might expect, McIlrath is a physical player who uses his size extremely well (6-4/212). McIlrath really made his bones when he beat Alex Petrovic in the Prospects Game. While he still needs work handling the puck, he has a big-time shot from the point that will allow him to see some tine on the power play.

23. Buffalo Sabres – Riley Sheahan – C
THN: # 19 —– McK: # 26 —– TSN: # 21
CS: # 22NA (Jordan Staal) —– ISS: # 22 (Keith Tkachuk)
Sheahan played as a top six forward at the University of Notre Dame and showed his versatility by filling on defense for a few games due to injuries. At 6-2/200, Sheahan adds much-needed size to Buffalo’s forwards as he projects as a power forward who is more playmaker than scorer at this point in his career.

24. Chicago Blackhawks – Calvin Pickard – G
THN: # 27 —– McK: # 32 —– TSN: # 31
CS: # 1 NA Goalie —– ISS: # 2 Goalie (No comparison)
Pickard, whose brother Chet was a first round pick by Nashville in 2008. Pickard relies on technique as opposed to physical attributes. He is a poised goaltender who is mentally strong – traits that he needed with a poor Seattle (WHL) team where he saw almost 500 more shots than the next WHL goalie.

25. Vancouver Canucks – Mark Pysyk – D
THN: # 16 —– McK: # 16 —– TSN: # 20
CS: # 7NA (Duncan Keith) —– ISS: # 17 (Kris Letang)
With three d-men going into the final year of their contract, and combined with the tragic death of Luc Bourdon in May 2008, the Canucks need to look at adding depth to the blue line. Pysyk is a top pairing d-man whose game is based on hockey sense, strong skating and passing. While his game is an offensive one, Pysyk is a very good defender who has some room to grow (6-1/175).

26. Washington Capitals – Tyler Pitlick – C
THN: # 21 —– McK: # 35 —– TSN: # 25
CS: # 18NA (Mark Parrish) —– ISS: # 20 (Travis Zajac)
There is some talk that Minnesota State-Mankato center might leave college for Medicine Hat (WHL). Tyler’s uncle Lance played defense in the NHL. Pitlick will fill out beyond his 6-2/195 frame and add to his ability to be both a finesse and power player. His has the skill sets to be a fine number two center behind Nicklas Backstrom.

27. Montreal Canadiens – Brock Nelson – C
THN: # 29 —– McK: # 62 —– TSN: # 34
CS: # 25NA (David Backes) —– ISS: # 26 (James Sheppard)
As the Canadiens decide what they are going to do with their goaltending, the Habs have concerns on defense (thanks to expiring contracts) and size at forward. Nelson has the size (6-3/205) and puck skills that teams want and he is a strong two-way player. There is some concern that he excelled against lesser talent at Warroad High School. Nelson does have hockey in his genes – his uncle is Dave Christian (1980 Olympian) and his grandfather is Bill Christian (1960 Olympian).

28. San Jose Sharks – Ludvig Rensfeldt – LW
THN: # 32—– McK: # 29 —– TSN: # 37
CS: # 5E —– ISS: # 27 (Johan Franzen)
The 6-3/195 LW put up dazzling numbers with Brynas Jr. in Sweden (21-29-50 in 39 games), but scouts were still uncertain about his ability to play at a high level on a consistent basis. While inconsistency might be his middle name, the 18-year-old’s ability to produce offense makes him a potential linemate for Joe Thornton down the road.

29. Anaheim Ducks – Jaden Schwartz – C
THN: # 30 —– McK: # 22 —– TSN: # 29
CS: # 28NA (Derek Roy) —– ISS: # 23 (Daniel Briere)
Schwartz was an offensive machine in the USHL with Tri-City his 83 points were the most since Thomas Vanek scored 91 points in 2001-2002 as he played apart in almost 50% of the Storm’s goals. While he does have size (5-10/180) or flashy speed, Schwartz relies on outstanding hockey sense and puckhandling ability.

30. Chicago Blackhawks – Charlie Coyle – C/RW
THN: # 33 —– McK: # 30 —– TSN: # 32
CS: # 24NA (Bob Sweeney) —– ISS: # 28 (Patrick Marleau)
The Stanley Cup champions are faced with salary cap problems that could strip the team of its winning assets. They could look at a goaltender, but the value is not there at this point in the Draft. While still battling some inconsistency, the 18-year-old cousin of Tony Amonte uses his size (6-2/200), vision and hockey sense to power his game. Like his cousin Tony, Coyle will be attending Boston University.

First Round Draft Pick Transactions

1. Pick # 2 – Boston Bruins receive Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2010 1st and 2nd Round Picks, and a 2011 1st Round Pick for Phil Kessel.
2. Pick # 13 – Phoenix Coyotes receive Calgary Flames’ 2010 1st Round Pick, C Matthew Lombardi, and Brandon Prust from Calgary for Olli Jokinen and 2009 3rd Round Pick.
3. Pick # 15 – Florida Panthers receive Boston’s second 1st Round Pick (#15), a 2011 3rd Round Pick and Dennis Wideman for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell.
4. Pick # 24 – Chicago Blackhawks receive Atlanta Thrashers’ 2010 1st Round Pick (#24), 2010 2nd Round Pick (#54), Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin and Joey Crabb for Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, and Akim Aliu. Atlanta previously acquired New Jersey’s 2010 1st round pick, Johnny Oduya, Nicklas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier for Ilya Kovalchuk and Anssi Samela. Teams are also swapping 2010 2nd round picks.
5. Pick # 29 – Anaheim Ducks receive Philadelphia Flyers’ 2010 1st Round Pick, 2009 1st Round Pick, Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul and a conditional 2010 or 2012 3rd Round Pick for Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle.

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