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2003 NHL Draft Top Prospects Capsules

Michal Barinka, D
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 200   Born: 6/12/84 
2002-03 with Budejovice (Czech): 31 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS, 14 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 10th among European skaters

Czech defenseman opted out of last year's draft but failed to improve his prospects and is ranked 10th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He probably won't make it into the first round because scouts want to see him play a more physical game. Despite registering just one assist in 31 games in the Elite League, he's considered an offensive-defenseman. He can make a good outlet pass and is a hockey writer's best friend. Among his superstitions, he avoids being the first or last player on the ice for the pregame skate, puts on his equipment on the left side first and must be the third player to shoot during warmups. He also makes sure to put nothing but black tape on his stick. 

Konstantin Barulin, G
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 176   Born: 9/4/84 
2002-03 with Tjumen (Russia): 36 GP, N/A, 1.58 AVG, N/A
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 1st among European goaltenders

Top-ranked European goaltending prospect served as the backup on Russia's entry at the World Junior Championships, playing one game and stopping 29 of 30 shots. Native of Siberia played for Tjumen in Division I, a notch below the Russian Superleague, and posted an impressive 1.58 goals-against average. Boasts solid reflexes and a good glove hand. 

Marc-Andre Bernier, RW
Ht: 6-3 1/2   Wt: 198   Born: 5/5/85 
2002-03 with Halifax (QMJHL): 67 GP, 29 G, 29 A, 58 PTS, 43 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 26th among North American skaters

Pure goal-scorer will probably drop to the second round because scouts don't like his skating. Others noted a dropoff in his performance over the second half of the season in the Quebec Junior Major Hockey League, but some like his size and intangibles. 

Steve Bernier, RW
Ht: 6-2 1/2   Wt: 233   Born: 3/31/85 
2002-03 with Moncton (QMJHL): 71 GP, 49 G, 52 A, 101 PTS, 90 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 11th among North American skaters

Has drawn comparisons to Mike Bossy after posting impressive numbers in the offensive-minded QMJHL. Considered one-dimensional by some scouts, but so were Quebec league graduates Luc Robitaille and Yanic Perreault. Has all the physical tools -- at 15, he already stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 215 pounds. He's added 18 pounds but still is considered a finesse player. Ranked 11th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, his stock dropped during physical testing that exposed poor conditioning habits. If he slips to the bottom third of the first round, he could be a perfect fit for a team in need of instant offense. 

Brian Boyle, C
Ht: 6-5 1/2   Wt: 222   Born: 12/18/84 
2002-03 with St. Sebastian's (USHS): 31 GP, 32 G, 31 A, 63 PTS, 46 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 34th among North American skaters

One of 13 children, this huge playmaker possesses a deft scoring touch. But his draft fate is unknown because he often played against inferior opponents in high school in Massachusetts. He's headed to Boston College next season. Actually may be taller than his listed height of 6-foot-5 1/2 but played shortstop on the baseball team, demonstrating his dexterity. Still, he's considered a project, something that may cause more than a few teams to pass him by. 

Dustin Brown, RW
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 195   Born: 11/4/84 
2002-03 with Guelph (OHL): 58 GP, 34 G, 42 A, 76 PTS, 89 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 2nd among North American skaters

Ithaca, N.Y. native is the top-rated American-born prospect at No. 2 overall. Was the youngest player on the U.S. team at the 2002 World Junior Championships but picked up a goal and three assists in seven games. Returned to the tournament in 2003 and had two goals and two assists in seven games. Described by one scout as "tenacious," he is not afraid to drive to the net or chase the puck along the boards and into the corners. Some scouts say he does not possess the size to play the kind of game he wants to play in the NHL. They believe he could slip out of the top 10 picks. He was an alternate captain in juniors at Guelph, where general manager Alan Millar described him as a "pure goal-scorer." "He's a very competitive player who wants to be the difference when the game is on the line," Millar added. 

Jeff Carter, C
Ht: 6-3   Wt: 182   Born: 1/1/85 
2002-03 with Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): 61 GP, 35 G, 36 A, 71 PTS, 55 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 27th among North American skaters

May have been overlooked while playing for a losing team in the Ontario Hockey League.But he's a good bet to go in the middle of the first round after averaging better than a point per game. Needs to add some bulk to his 6-foot-3 frame but already acquits himself well in tight spots. Philadelphia Flyers assistant Craig Hartsburg coached him in juniors and predicted he'll make a great pro. "He's a kid that takes the game seriously," Hartsburg said. "He's very dedicated to the game." Won the agility skating award at the Top Prospects Skills Competition, then scored a goal in the Top Prospects Game. 

Dimitri Chernikh, RW
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 180   Born: 2/27/85 
2002-03 with Khimik (Russia): 29 GP, 5 G, 4 A, 9 PTS, 29 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 4th among European skaters

NHL Central Scouting's fourth-ranked European skater, there's a good chance he'll drop all the way out of the first round. The smallish winger is quick on his skates but avoids contact. He has good hands and an accurate shot and a hockey sense advanced for a player his age. That could come from being the son of a recently retired hockey player. Scouts question his fortitude since he saw little action in the third period of tight games with his Russian league team. He spent his first season at that level skating on a fourth line with Tampa Bay Lightning prospects Pavel Sedov and Alexei Gloukhov. 

Braydon Coburn, D
Ht: 6-5   Wt: 205   Born: 2/27/85 
2002-03 with Portland (WHL): 53 GP, 3 G, 16 A, 19 PTS, 147 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 6th among North American skaters

The top-rated North American defenseman at sixth overall, he jumped two spots from midseason after earning a spot at the Top Prospects Game. Not particularly flashy, he's a dependable player who logs plenty of ice time. A good skater, he can carry the puck, pass it and shoot it from the point. He's smart, dependable and rarely caught out of position. An ankle injury sidelined him for 14 games in his second season with Portland of the Western Hockey League, where he was an alternate captain. "Watching him play is like watching a video game. He can go straight, forward, backward or side-to-side equally well," coach Mike Williamson said. "But what sets him apart from a lot of people is his character. He's a leader at 17, he wants to be the best and he pushes himself." 

Patrick Ehelechner, G
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 176   Born: 9/23/84 
2002-03 with Hannover (Germany): 4 GP, N/A, 5.93 AVG, N/A
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 3rd among European goaltenders

Saw very limited action as a backup in the German Elite League, playing just four games for Hannover. But he posted impressive numbers in three games at the World Junior Championships, recording a shutout, a 1.57 goals-against average and .954 save percentage. Finished the season as NHL Central Scouting's No. 3 European goaltending prospect. 

Eric Fehr, RW
Ht: 6-3   Wt: 187   Born: 9/7/85 
2002-03 with Brandon (WHL): 70 GP, 26 G, 29 A, 55 PTS, 76 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 15th among North American skaters

At the beginning of the season, scouts traveled to Brandon, Manitoba to see Ryan Stone. They ended up raving about this right wing, who finished the year three spots behind his junior teammate as NHL Central Scouting's 15th-ranked North American skater. Still growing into his 6-foot-3 frame, he likes to mix it up along the boards and in the corners, reminding some of future Hall of Famer Dave Andreychuk. He prides himself on his work ethic. But because he's still a few years away from the NHL, he could drop to the bottom of the first round. 

Jonathan Filewich, RW
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 208   Born: 10/2/84 
2002-03 with Prince George (WHL): 51 GP, 27 G, 27 A, 54 PTS, 45 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 24th among North American skaters

He'll probably be available in the second round. Despite his size, some scouts would like him to play a more physical game, an opinion buoyed by the fact he totaled a career-high 45 penalty minutes in his third season of major junior hockey. But he had an impressive showing at the World Under-18 Tournament, averaging a point a game. He displays good skills around the net and holds his own in the defensive zone. 

Marc-Andre Fleury, G
Ht: 6-1 1/2   Wt: 172   Born: 11/28/84 
2002-03 with Cape Breton (QMJHL): 51 GP, 17-24-6, 3.36 AVG, .910 SV PCTG
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 1st among North American goaltenders

Top-ranked North American goaltending prospect backstopped Canada to the silver medal with a spectacular performance at the World Junior Championships, leading the tournament with a 1.57 goals-against average and finishing third with a .928 save percentage. His carefree personality has prompted some to compare him to Vezina Trophy winner Martin Brodeur. Some scouts believe he could join Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders as the only goalies taken with the top overall draft pick. Like Brodeur, he likes to move the puck to teammates. And like so many French-Canadian goalies, he employs the butterfly style. He also has the ability to recover quickly in scramble situations and control rebounds. 

Dan Fritsche, C
Ht: 6-1   Wt: 198   Born: 7/13/85 
2002-03 with Sarnia (OHL): 61 GP, 32 G, 39 A, 71 PTS, 79 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 10th among North American skaters

He could fall into the bottom half of the first round. There are concerns about his shoulder, which has been operated on twice. Some scouts also are worried about his skating, although he's hard to knock off his skates. "Danny is the type of player that will go through you, not around you," said junior coach Jeff Perry of the Sarnia Sting. "He is a game-breaker." Parma, Ohio native scored the winning goal at the Top Prospects Game, where he was named his team's player of the game. Can play all three forward positions and has an uncanny knack of anticipating the play. 

Ryan Getzlaf, C
Ht: 6-2 1/2   Wt: 195   Born: 5/10/85 
2002-03 with Calgary (WHL): 70 GP, 29 G, 39 A, 68 PTS, 121 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 5th among North American skaters

Moved up one spot and finished the season as NHL Central Scouting's fifth-ranked North American skater. Versatile player who likes to use his size to create scoring chances. While he's hard to knock off his skates, he has trouble generating speed, a fact that concerns some scouts. He can play all three forward positions and manned the point on the power play in juniors. He also was used extensively on the penalty-killing unit and was among the Western Hockey League leaders with six shorthanded goals. 

Konstantin Glazachev, LW
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 186   Born: 2/18/85 
2002-03 with Yaroslavl 2 (Russia): 13 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 7 PTS, 4 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 5th among European skaters

NHL Central Scouting's fifth-ranked European skater is a double-edged sword. His offensive skills are rated second among Russian prospects behind Nikolai Zherdev. But he's also considered a defensive liability, something that could drop him into the bottom third of the first round. He does not possess overwhelming speed but is difficult to beat from the blue line to the net. He needs to add size, although he plays what some scouts consider a North American-style game. He had trouble adapting to the Russian Superleague but impressed at the World Under-18 Championship with two goals and three assists in six games. 

Nathan Horton, C
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 201   Born: 5/29/85 
2002-03 with Oshawa (OHL): 54 GP, 33 G, 35 A, 68 PTS, 111 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 4th among North American skaters

Jumped one spot to finish the season as NHL Central Scouting's fourth-ranked North American skater. He could go even higher on draft day because of his impressive size -- 6-2 and 203 pounds. When he takes advantage of his combination of size, speed and strength, he's "a very hard player to defend against," according to one scout. Also plays a responsible game in his own zone and was among the Ontario Hockey League leaders with five short-handed goals. OHL coaches voted him third-most dangerous player around the net. Some scouts question his consistency, although others consider him an above-average all-around talent. His junior coach, Oshawa's George Burnette, described him as "very unselfish and team-oriented." "The thing I like best about Nathan is that it's never about him," Burnette said. "He's the type of player that really makes coaching fun." 

James Howard, G
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 218   Born: 3/26/84 
2002-03 with Maine (Hockey East): 21 GP, 14-6-0, 2.45 AVG, .916 SV PCTG
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 2nd among North American goaltenders

Ogdensburg, N.Y. native moved up one spot to finish the season as the second-ranked North American goaltending prospect. Maine freshman was named Hockey East Rookie of the Year after tying a school record with three shutouts. He established a school mark with a shutout streak of 193 minutes, 45 seconds. At 6 feet and 218 pounds, he covers the net well. He also plays his angles and likes to use his stick on pucks near the net. Can play the butterfly style effectively but largely stays upright in the net. Represented the United States at the World Junior Championships but played sparingly, posting a 6.05 goals-against average in three games. 

Hugh Jessiman, RW
Ht: 6-4   Wt: 200   Born: 3/28/84 
2002-03 with Dartmouth (ECAC): 34 GP, 23 G, 24 A, 47 PTS, 48 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 20th among North American skaters

Quick, name the last Dartmouth product to enjoy more than a cup of coffee in the NHL? You'd have to go all the way back to Carey Wilson, who played for three teams from 1983-84 to 1992-93. Jessiman could become the first player from the Ivy League school to be taken in the first round of the draft after he was ranked 20th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He's got plenty of size and a hard, accurate shot. Came out of nowhere to draw the attention of scouts after playing high school hockey at the Brunswick School in Connecticut. Scouts consider him a project but likes his raw talent and hockey sense. 

Ryan Kesler, C
Ht: 6-1 1/2   Wt: 195   Born: 8/31/84 
2002-03 with Ohio State (CCHA): 40 GP, 11 G, 20 A, 31 PTS, 44 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 16th among North American skaters

Could become the third Ohio State product to be taken in the first round in as many years, joining R.J. Umberger and David Steckel. Scouts think he has limited offensive potential but like his hard-nosed attitude and project him as a third- or fourth-line center. Has good speed for his size. Averaged a point a game at the World Junior Championships as a member of the U.S. team. Ranked 16th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he'll probably go later than that in the first round. 

Ivan Khomutov, C
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 198   Born: 3/11/85 
2002-03 with Elektrostal (Russia): 20 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, 8 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 21st among European skaters

If there's a wild card among European prospects, this is him. Some observers think he's one of the better Russians available, but others consider him lazy and project him as a second-round pick. He possesses an impressive wrist shot, a good touch around the net and above-average speed. He had trouble getting ice time in his first season in the Superleague and totaled just two points in 20 games.  

Kevin Klein, D
Ht: 6-1   Wt: 187   Born: 12/13/84 
2002-03 with Toronto St. Michael's (OHL): 67 GP, 11 G, 33 A, 44 PTS, 88 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 18th among North American skaters

He could slip out of the first round. Already a solid defensive defenseman, he improved his offensive skills in his third season with Toronto St. Michael's of the OHL. He was used on the power play and in penalty-killing situations but is not projected to be a top-three defenseman at the NHL level. 

Dimitri Kosmachev, D
Ht: 6-3   Wt: 205   Born: 6/7/86 
2002-03 with CSKA (Russia): 27 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, 2 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 11th among European skaters

NHL Central Scouting's 11th-ranked European skater raised concerns when he took three penalties in one game during the World Under-18 Championship. But he's got plenty of size to make it in the NHL and improved his skating during his first season in the Russian Superleague. At best, he's projected as a depth player. And there are those who question his hockey sense and ability to perform under pressure. He figures to go in the second round. 

Andrei Kostitsyn, RW
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 189   Born: 2/3/85 
2002-03 with CSKA (Russia): 6 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, 2 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 3rd among European skaters

One of the more intriguing prospects in this year's draft, he's ranked third among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. The native of Belarus has a medical condition that some teams believe is epilepsy but others think is cataplexy, a somewhat less serious affliction. There is agreement, however, that he has the skills to flourish in the NHL. He made a favorable impression at the World Junior Championships, totaling two goals and an assist in six games. But he was even better at the World Under-18 Championship with six goals, nine assists and 28 penalty minutes in just six games. There are some concerns over a lack of size. 

Kamil Kreps, C
Ht: 6-1 1/2   Wt: 187   Born: 11/18/84 
2002-03 with Brampton (OHL): 53 GP, 19 G, 42 A, 61 PTS, 12 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 22nd among North American skaters

Czech made the jump to major junior hockey two years ago and impressed scouts with his boundless energy and willingness to throw his body around with seemingly reckless abandon. He ended the season ranked 22nd among North American skaters but likely will drop into the second round. Scored just 19 goals in each of his two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League but many were of the highlight variety. Some scouts are concerned about his lack of consistency. 

Teemu Lassila, G
Ht: 5-11   Wt: 180   Born: 3/26/83 
2002-03 with TPS (Finland): 21 GP, N/A, 1.92 AVG, N/A
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 2nd among European goaltenders

It's hard to get much attention as a Finnish goaltender these days after Kari Lehtonen was taken second overall in last year's NHL draft. But Lassila is NHL Central Scouting's second-ranked European goaltending prospect. Chances are, he will not follow in Lehtonen's footsteps as a first-round draft pick. Possesses a quick glove hand and is expected to start next season for TPS of the Finnish Elite League. 

Milan Michalek, RW
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 205   Born: 12/7/84 
2002-03 with Budejovice (Czech): 46 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 PTS, 14 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 2nd among European skaters

Mention the name of this big Czech and scouts compare him to Martin Havlat of the Ottawa Senators. Some had him pegged as a dark horse candidate for the top overall pick, but he ended the season as NHL Central Scouting's second-ranked European skater. After combining for nine goals in two seasons in the Czech Elite League, his offensive potential is considered limited. But he is considered by many the prospect most ready to step into the NHL. A good skater with breakaway speed, he has shown a reluctance to play in traffic. He had two goals and two assists in six games for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships. 

Igor Mirnov, RW
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 187   Born: 9/19/84 
2002-03 with Dynamo Moscow (Russia): 50 GP, 3 G, 7 A, 10 PTS, 49 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 6th among European skaters

Already possesses an impressive wrist shot and unlike other highly rated Russian prospects has an awareness of his defensive responsibilities. He lacks size but makes up for it with impressive speed. Solid passer learned to share the puck more in his first full season with Dynamo of the Russian Superleague. He showed signs of maturity as the season went on, earning time on the second and third line and occasionally playing with former NHLers Alexander Semak and Vladimir Vorobiev. Some scouts think he could struggle in the NHL if he continues to try to fight through traffic with his 187-pound frame. 

Ryan Munce, G
Ht: 6-1 1/2   Wt: 180   Born: 4/16/85 
2002-03 with Sarnia (OHL): 27 GP, 15-7-0, 2.64 AVG, .916 SV PCTG
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 2nd among North American goaltenders

Third-ranked North American goaltending prospect by NHL Central Scouting, he almost sat out this past season. After leaving training camp and going home to shooting for an American college scholarship, he returned to Sarnia of the OHL and impressed scouts with above-average quickness. Disproved doubters by backstopping Canada to the gold medal at the World Under-18 Championship in April in Russia. Most likely, he'll be available early in the second round. 

Robert Nilsson, LW
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 187   Born: 9/19/84 
2002-03 with Leksand (Sweden): 41 GP, 8 G, 13 A, 21 PTS, 10 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 9th among European skaters

Scouts and statisticians are making all kinds of lofty predictions when it comes to NHL Central Scouting's ninth-ranked European skater. He's the son of former NHLer Kent Nilsson and with eight goals and 13 assists in 41 games broke Markus Naslund's record for points by a 17-year-old in the Swedish Elite League. At least one scout thinks he's better at his age than Calder Trophy finalist Henrik Zetterberg was. Like his father, he is a gifted passer who should have no trouble becoming the second generation of his family to reach the NHL. He could go late in the first round, however, due to a lack of size. 

Patrick O'Sullivan, C
Ht: 5-11   Wt: 190   Born: 2/1/85 
2002-03 with Mississauga (OHL): 56 GP, 40 G, 41 A, 81 PTS, 57 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 14th among North American skaters

One of the more interesting potential first-round picks, the story of an abusive relationship with his former hockey player father has been well-chronicled. That could make teams leery of picking someone who outplayed top European prospect Nikolai Zherdev in the gold medal game of the 2002 World Under-18 Championships in Slovakia. He finished this season as the 14th-ranked North American skater and has talent that should put him in the top five first-round picks. Scored 40 goals in just 56 games with Mississaugua of the Ontario junior league, then contributed a goal and an assist in seven games with the U.S. team at the World Junior Championships. 

Zach Parise, C
Ht: 5-11   Wt: 186   Born: 7/28/84 
2002-03 with North Dakota (WCHA): 34 GP, 25 G, 32 A, 57 PTS, 32 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 9th among North American skaters

Another prospect with an NHL pedigree, he's the son of former Minnesota North Stars and New York Islanders winger J.P. Parise. Moved up two spots to finish the season as the ninth-ranked North American skater. Was the only freshman nominated for the Hobey Baker Award after recording three hat tricks, including one in his NCAA debut. He also led the U.S. team in scoring with four goals and four assists in seven games at the World Junior Championships. He lacks size, but so did his father, who made up for it with a tireless work ethic. Some scouts believe he's one of the best prospects to come out of college in years. "He's really got it all," North Dakota coach Dean Blais said. "He's quick, got great puck skills, he scores, he fights his way to the net, he finds a way to get his points." 

Corey Perry, RW
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 184   Born: 5/16/85 
2002-03 with London (OHL): 67 GP, 25 G, 53 A, 78 PTS, 145 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 35th among North American skaters

Played for the same junior team that produced Calder Trophy finalist Rick Nash but struggled through a difficult sophomore season. His draft chances got a boost with a big performance in the OHL playoffs as he totaled 23 points in 14 games. Solid playmaker with an above-average scoring touch, he needs to work on his skating. Despite finishing the season as NHL Central Scouting's 35th-ranked North American skating prospect, he could find his way into the bottom of the first round. If a team takes a chance on him, it will have a project on its hands. 

Dion Phaneuf, D
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 205   Born: 4/10/85 
2002-03 with Red Deer (WHL): 71 GP, 16 G, 14 A, 30 PTS, 185 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 8th among North American skaters

Is ranked eighth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, down one spot from midseason. This, despite opening eyes with a crushing hit delivered in the Top Prospects Game. Does not hesitate to use his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame and looks out for his teammates on the ice. One scout said he plays an "edgy" game, although he also possesses above-average offensive skills. He recorded a hat trick on Jan. 26 for Western Hockey League powerhouse Red Deer and was among the WHL leaders with a plus-28 rating. Sees time on both the power-play and penalty-killing units. He could slip out of the top 10 picks, but some scouts project him among a team's top two defensemen. 

Vojtech Polak, RW
Ht: 6-0   Wt: 183   Born: 6/27/85 
2002-03 with Karlovy Vary (Czech): 41 GP, 7 G, 9 A, 16 PTS, 51 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 12th among European skaters

Ranked 12th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, this speedster actually outscored No. 6 prospect Milan Michalek in the Czech Extraleague this season. He's not the biggest player but he has impressive speed and served as team captain at the World Under-18 Championship, where he had three goals and two assists in six games. Scouts would like to see him add bulk and improve his consistency. He does his best work in the offensive zone, possessing a quick wrist shot and heavy slap shot. Does not like physical play, a trait that could drop him to the second round. 

Marc-Antoine Pouliot, C
Ht: 6-1   Wt: 188   Born: 5/22/85 
2002-03 with Rimouski (QMJHL): 65 GP, 32 G, 41 A, 73 PTS, 100 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 13th among North American skaters

Playmaking center also knows his way around his own zone, making him an oddity in the goal-crazy QMJHL. He had a minus-22 rating playing for a last-place team that won only 11 games. Scouts like his work ethic and wonder how he would have fared in a more competitive setting. Some, however, question his consistency. He figures to go in the middle of the first round. 

Mike Richards, C
Ht: 5-11   Wt: 187   Born: 2/11/85 
2002-03 with Kitchener (OHL): 67 GP, 37 G, 50 A, 87 PTS, 99 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 30th among North American skaters

Won a Memorial Cup with Kitchener and was considered by some the best two-way player in the OHL. Ranked 30th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he has an outside chance of cracking the first round. An above-average skater and playmaker, he has been compared to Mike Ricci. Scouts like his work ethic and intensity. He was used on the power play and in penalty-killing situations and is above average on faceoffs. 

Brent Seabrook, D
Ht: 6-2 1/2   Wt: 220   Born: 4/20/85 
2002-03 with Lethbridge (WHL): 69 GP, 9 G, 33 A, 42 PTS, 113 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 25th among North American skaters

Inconsistency could drop him into the second round, although he impressed scouts with a yeoman performance at the World Under-18 Championship in Russia. He posted a plus-11 rating while captaining Canada to the gold medal. Has the size and the speed to succeed in the NHL and his 33 assists each of the last two seasons show he can handle the puck. Ended the season ranked 25th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. In juniors, he was used on the power play and in penalty-killing situations. 

Grigory Shafigulin, C
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 185   Born: 1/13/85 
2002-03 with Yaroslavl (Russia): 11 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS, 4 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 7th among European skaters

Seventh-ranked European skater needs to add bulk to his 6-foot-2 frame. He saw limited action in his first season in the Russian Superleague and was held without a point in four games at the World Under-18 Championship. Scouts like his hockey sense, but he's considered a project and appears headed for the second round. He's shown an awareness of his defensive responsibilities but possesses good hands, sees the ice well and is a slightly above-average playmaker. 

Eric Staal, C
Ht: 6-3   Wt: 182   Born: 10/29/84 
2002-03 with Peterborough (OHL): 66 GP, 39 G, 59 A, 98 PTS, 36 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 1st among North American skaters

NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked North American prospect, he has been compared by some scouts to future Hall of Famer Ron Francis, although he does not yet possess Francis' exceptional defensive skills. His overall talent level has been described as "exceptional" and he has the ability to dominate a game. He was seventh in the Ontario Hockey League in assists and eighth in goals. He was second in the Eastern Conference in stickhandling in a poll of OHL coaches, who also voted him second-smartest player and third-best penalty-killer. While he is a finesse player, he has an exceptional reach and uses it to his advantage along the boards and in corners. His cousin, Jeff Heerema, was a 1998 first-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes. At 6-foot-3 and 182 pounds, some scouts are concerned with size. But others think he will weigh 200 pounds by the time he's ready for the NHL. 

Richard Stehlik, D
Ht: 6-4   Wt: 245   Born: 6/22/84 
2002-03 with Sherbrooke (QMJHL): 43 GP, 8 G, 16 A, 24 PTS, 105 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 49th among North American skaters

Ranked just 49th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, this big Slovakian has a good chance of going in the first round. He's got plenty of size, reminding some scouts of All-Star defenseman Zdeno Chara. And he does not hesitate using that 6-4, 245-pound frame, opening eyes with crunching body checks. He possesses a booming shot that rarely finds the net. But some scouts like his maturity and feels he may reach the NHL sooner than other prospects. He needs to work on his skating, particularly when retreating -- a key for an aspiring defenseman. 

Anthony Stewart, C/RW
Ht: 6-1   Wt: 239   Born: 1/5/85 
2002-03 with Kingston (OHL): 68 GP, 32 G, 38 A, 70 PTS, 47 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 19th among North American skaters

A solid skater who's virtually impossible to knock off his skates, he is projected to be a power forward in the NHL. But scouts cite his inconsistency and poor training regimen. Totaled just 47 penalty minutes in 68 games with Kingston of the OHL but knows how to take care of himself. Last October, he broke the jaw of top prospect Nathan Horton in a game against Oshawa. Stewart is ranked 19th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He can play all three forward positions and was used on the power play and in penalty-killing situations. 

Ryan Stone, C
Ht: 6-1   Wt: 199   Born: 3/20/85 
2002-03 with Brandon (WHL): 54 GP, 14 G, 31 A, 45 PTS, 158 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 12th among North American skaters

Ranked 12th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he could drop out of the first round following an injury-plagued with Brandon of the Western Hockey League. He attended training camp for Canada's entry at the Under-18 World Tournament but suffered a concussion and did not make the trip to Russia. Has yet to score 20 goals in two junior seasons but is among the toughest draft-eligible players. Junior teammate Eric Fehr could be selected higher, even though he's ranked 15th. 

Mark Stuart, D
Ht: 6-1   Wt: 209   Born: 4/27/84 
2002-03 with Colorado College (WCHA): 38 GP, 3 G, 17 A, 20 PTS, 81 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 17th among North American skaters

Third of three brothers who have played at Colorado College, he completed his freshman season as NHL Central Scouting's 17th-ranked North American skater. A product of the U.S. National development program, he knows how to carry the puck but does his best work in his own zone. A physical defenseman, some scouts see a limited upside. Others think he'll carve a niche in the NHL as a stay-at-home type along the lines of Ken Daneyko. He played for the United States at the World Junior Championships and chipped in one assist in seven games. 

Ryan Suter, D
Ht: 6-1   Wt: 183   Born: 1/21/85 
2002-03 with U.S. National Team: 47 GP, 8 G, 19 A, 27 PTS, 114 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 7th among North American skaters

Seventh-rated North American skating prospect has pretty good bloodlines. He's the son of Bob Suter, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and the nephew of former Calder Trophy-winning defenseman Gary Suter. This Wisconsin native has more speed than either of his famous relatives and does not mind mixing it up, as evidenced by picking up 114 penalty minutes in only 47 games for the U.S. National team. One scout described his style as "abrasive." He had two goals and an assist in seven games at the World Junior Championships and plans to follow his dad and uncle to the University of Wisconsin. Like his uncle, he possesses solid offensive skills and often is used on the power play. 

Jeff Tambellini, LW
Ht: 5-11   Wt: 186   Born: 4/13/84 
2002-03 with Michigan (CCHA): 43 GP, 26 G, 19 A, 45 PTS, 24 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 21st among North American skaters

Another prospect with NHL bloodlines, he's the son of Vancouver Canucks vice president of player personnel Steve Tambellini, who had a 10-year playing career with five teams. A superior skater, he became the 12th freshman in CCHA history to earn a spot as a second-team All-Star. The last Michigan Wolverine to do so was Mike Comrie, who's become a pretty good NHL player. Ranked 21st among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he got better as the season went along and is more than responsible in his own zone. Scouts like his leadership qualities and are not concerned about his relative lack of size. 

Thomas Vanek, LW
Ht: 6-2   Wt: 208   Born: 1/19/84 
2002-03 with Minnesota (WCHA): 37 GP, 24 G, 27 A, 51 PTS, 48 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 3rd among North American skaters

Third-ranked North American prospect, although he hails from Austria. Capped a spectacular freshman season at the University of Minnesota by scoring the winning goal in the NCAA title game against New Hampshire. That helped earn him MVP honors at the Frozen Fours. Recorded a pair of hat tricks, led the team in scoring and posted the fourth-highest single-season goal total by a freshman in school history. Collected three goals and three assists on November 1 to become the first Minnesota freshman to collect six points since former NHLer Dave Snuggerud during the 1985-86 season. Also enjoyed a stellar World Junior Championship for Austria, leading the team with five goals and six assists in only five games. His father, Zdenek, played professionally in Austria and Czechoslovakia. He's a dominant offensive player who's hard to check. An above-average puckhandler, he takes advantage of his long reach. Also boasts a heavy, accurate shot that he's not afraid to use. Some scouts have questioned his work ethic, likening him to former first-round pick Pavel Brendl

Nikolai Zherdev, LW
Ht: 6-1   Wt: 186   Born: 11/5/84 
2002-03 with CSKA (Russia): 44 GP, 12 G, 12 A, 24 PTS, 34 PIM
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 1st among European skaters

NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked European skater, he has been compared to Atlanta Thrashers budding superstar Ilya Kovalchuk because of his game-breaking potential. But he had a disappointing tournament at the World Junior Championships, managing just one assist in six games. Until then, he was considered by many the top player available. There's no question he has all the skills to make it in the NHL -- sooner rather than later -- but some scouts question his maturity while others note he has the tendency to hold the puck too long. That's drawn some comparisons to Alexei Kovalev early in his North American career. 


 
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