NHL Draft Round 1

By Mark Fischel


1. Atlanta Thrashers

Ilya Kovalchuk, Left Winger

After much deliberation, the Thrashers decided to keep the pick and select the clear consensus #1 pick, Ilja Kovalchuk. Destined to be a franchise player, Kovalchuk possesess all the attributes of a superstar. Blazing speed, the ability to take over a game, nastiness, Scoring touch and elite skills. On the downside, he brings with him the ego and brashness of the superstar, but at a young age.

“I understand it is a young team, but I will do the best I can to make it stronger and I understand and I want to do that.”

2. Ottawa Senators

Jason Spezza, Center

Acquired the #2 pick, Bill Muckalt, and Zdeno Chara from the Islanders for Alexei Yashin. The Sens selected Jason to become the centerman of the future. Until early this year, he was the consensus #1 pick until a combination of over-analysis from scouts and the emergence of Kovalchuk knocked Spezza down to #2. Blessed with an amazing on-ice vision and top notch skill, along with great playmaking and stickhandling skills, Jason will soon become a media and fan favorite all through Canada and the rest of the NHL. But did the Islanders give up too much to get Yashin?

“I’m trying to fill the void (left by Yashin). I’ll go in there and ease my way in and try and do as much as I can. I’m pretty excited. It’s pretty awesome.”

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Alexander Svitov, Center

Clearly Dudley was known to covet one of the elite Russians , and he proved it to the NHL by selecting the hulking centerman Svitov. A strong player with a nasty streak, Svitov is well-versed in the defensive side of the game and having the potential to build on his offensive
game as well. If all pans out, Tampa will have an offensive star in Leclavlier and a upper level defensive center in Svitov

4. Florida Panthers

Stephen Weiss, Center

With the first selection of the new ownership, the Panthers took the smart center from Plymouth, Stephen Weiss. Draws comparisons to Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman, due to his playmaking skill, great accelleration, an strong shot, and a competitive fire to his game.

“I think they want me to step right into playing, and it is up to me to prove I can do that. I am going to go back and train hard and put some weight on. But I think I am ready to step up. If I put on some weight, I will be able to compete physically, and hockey-wise , I’ll be able to step up for sure

5. Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Stanislav Chistov, Left Winger

The Ducks took the dimunitive winger who has drawn comparisons to his new teammate, Paul Kariya. Maybe one of the most dynamic and skilled players in this draft, his smallish stature surely prevented him from becoming #1 overall. A great skater with amazing move and speed, Chistov is the complete package, albeit small, of on-ice vision, scoring touch, and speed

6.Minnesota Wild

Mikko Koivu, Center

Surprising the assembled crowd and surely some of the team staff, the Wild selected the talented center from Finland. A physical player who isn’t afraid to mix it up, Koivu is more of a playmaking center with great hands and vision, will only improve as his body fills out and he puts on weight.

7.Montreal Canadiens

Mike Komisarek, Defenseman

Montreal takes the first defenseman of the draft and selects the bruising Komisarek from the University of Michigan. A punishing hitter who will only grow in size, Mike is a solid skater who possesses a mean streak that will surely make forwards think twice before entering the crease. The big question remains if Mike will stay in college to get his degree

“They obviously have a storied tradition, they have been a very successful org. in Stanley Cups. I am just honored and thrilled to be their first round pick, and that they thought so highly of me, I am just very luck to be a part of that.”

8.Columbus Blue Jackets

Pascal Leclaire, Goalie

Columbus got their net-minder of the future by selecting Leclaire with the 8th pick. Hoping that he becomes like all the other great goalies from Quebec, Leclaire is an extremely athletic and agile goalie with solid fundamentals in his butterfly form. Controls his rebounds well and is an instinctful goalie.

“I think Columbus has two great goalies right now, with Denis and Tugnutt. Only thing I can do is to achieve my goals with the team. I am fortunate to be in the organization and really excited to be drafted by them, but that will be their decision what to do with me, but I am excited to be there.”

9.Chicago Blackhawks

Tuomo Ruutu, Center

Maybe one of the fiestiest players selected in the first round, Ruutu is a strong skater who plays a nasty physical game. Plays a solid two-way game and very strong on the forecheck, he anticipates the play very well and is considered a unselfish team player.

10.New York Rangers

Dan Blackburn, Goalie

With Leclaire going two picks before, the Rangers jumped and selected Dan Blackburn. Hoping he develops into their goalie of the future, Dan possesses high marks in all areas of his game, with excellent flexibility, agility, and lateral movement. Blackburn plays a semi-butterfly style and is perhaps one of the most focused goalies ever to be seen, with a maturity that belies his age.

11.Phoenix Coyotes

Fredrik Sjostrom, Right Wing

The 11th pick overall was acquired from Calgary in exchange for the #14 pick and the #41st pick. Amazing accelleration and overall speed is Sjostrom’s ticket to going 11th overall. His skill level ranks up there with the top players, and he is able to be a playmaker and maintain control even at the top speeds. Very effective along the boards and in the corners

“Well you don’t know at the draft. You can go like anywhere, but I was very pleased to go at 11. It doesnt really matter because it is the years to come that are important. You can’t stop playing just cause you are drafted.

12.Nashville Predators

Dan Hamhuis, Defenseman

A strong two-way defenseman, Dan was selected by the Predators to become the future PP QB. Possessing more skill than Komisarek, but giving up the size, Dan doesn’t shy away from the physical game and favors the hip check. Dan is able to lead the rush, and has elite level skating skills, particulary east-west movement. Hamhuis can be considered a strong character player and eventual leader.

“I really had no idea coming into it. I had teams from Minnesota’s pick to Nashville at 12. Alot of them expressed a need for an offensive defenseman. Really my heart starting beating every time a team went up there, but really excited to be with Nashville.”

13.Edmonton Oilers

Ales Hemsky, Right Winger

Maybe a slight reach at the #13 spot, The Oilers must have felt that Ales was strong enough to take at that spot. Ales is an excellent skater with good top speed, and had great hands that give him excellent stickhandling ability and a solid shot, Ales will need to bulk up to play inside the perimeter if he is to be effective. Ales can play in all situations and is a very mature player.

14.Calgary Flames

Chuck Kobasew, Right Wing

Might be considered the most under-rated player in the draft, Kobasew will bring his solid on-ice play . Is considered a true clutch player with his confidence> good skater with soft hands, Kobasew led College hockey in Game winning goals

15.Carolina Hurricanes

Igor Knyazev, Defenseman

Considered to be NHL ready, Igor brings a solid steady game that is compared to Vishnevski of the Ducks. A solid skater with good mobility, Igor makes his team feel safe in their own zone with his steady play and good hockey sense.

16.Vancouver Canucks

R.J. Umberger

The Canucks got their much coveted big centerman by selecting from Pittsburgh, R.J. Umberger. Umberger is a powerful skaterwith good speed who can dominate in one-on-one situations. Umberger capitalizes on his scoring chances and creates offensive chances with his strong positioning and playmaking ability

17.Toronto Maple Leafs

Carlo Colaiacovo, Defenseman

Going with Defense with their first pick, the Leafs selected Colaiacovo with the 17th pick. A very strong competitor with good maturity, he plays a solid positional game and has an excellent feel for the situation. Will use his body along the walland doesnt hesitate to pinch in from the point.

18.Los Angeles Kings

Jens Karlsson, Right Winger

A strong winger who came alive in the SEL playoffs, Jens uses his size to barrel through opponents and score goals. Had some consistency problems this season.

19.Boston Bruins

Shaonne Morrisonn, Defenseman

A Tall and lanky defenseman with strong mobility for his size. Morrisonn has good passing skills and a solid shot from the point, and he likes to carry the puck out of the zone and relishes blocking shots

20.San Jose Sharks

Marcel Goc, Center

The brother of New Jersey prospect Sasha Goc, San Jose took what could be considered the steal of the draft by selecting the offensive-minded center from Germany, Marcel Goc. Goc has exceptional face-off ability and plays well in traffic, because of his solid agility. Has played against men for the last two seasons, so there could be a chance he can play in the NHL next year”

21.Pittsburgh Penguins

Colby Armstrong, Right Winger

A great skater with good on-ice vision, Armstrong is an excellent passer and a natural goal-scorer. He likes to driv to the net and was used in all situations. Uses his teammates very well.

22.Buffalo Sabres

Jiri Novotny, Center

Opinions differ wildly on Novotny, some think he lacks intensity, passion, and overall drive. But the scouts like him, notes his strong skating ability, faceoff skills, and his strong penalty killing. Has known to tease with his abilities.

23.Ottawa Senators

Tim Gleason, Defenseman

A great skater with amazing toughness, Gleason has a knack for his patented end to end rushes. He also has the speed to recover if necessary, and is considered NHL ready. Might need to improve his overall discipline and avoid taking bad penalties.

24.Florida Panthers

Lukas Krajicek, Defenseman

One of the rising players in the draft, Lukas brings excellent mobility and great passing ability. Can run a very effective powerplay, reacts quickly to developing situations in his own end and plays a strong positional game. Has the talent to become a top line Offensive Defenseman and can be pushed into becoming a physical player, although that isn’t his gamep>

25. Montreal Canadiens

Aleksander Perejougin, Right Winger

A very quick skater who needs to develop more offense off the rush, he is lightning quick release and can potentially score anywhere on the ice. Great offensive instincts, and is always in the right place at the right time.

26. Dallas Stars

Jason Bacashihua, Goalie

At one point, considered the top College goalie, Jason is a durable and strong goalie who plays an aggresive game. Will come out and challenge shooters, and possesses extreme confidence in clutch time. Good lateral movement and quick feet.

27. Philadelphia Flyers

Jeff Woywitka, Defenseman

Considered a typical Philly defenseman, Jeff is a big defenseman with solid skating skills and a powerful shot. Considered a safe pick with good fundamentals, Jeff plays a physical game in his own zone and will continue to grow into his body.

28. New Jersey Devils

Adrian Foster, Center

A playmaking center with great quickness and skating, Foster is able to stay composed at top speeds and stickhandle. He is a very agile player who will play a physical game, but injuries have severely limited the past few seasons.

29. Chicago Blackhawks

Adam Munro, Goalie

Projected to go anywhere from from the 2nd to 4th round but snuck into the first. His work ethic and fantastic attitude are his finest points along with combative nature.

30. Los Angeles Kings

David Steckel, Center

Center with big size, David is an exceptional forechecker. Takes advantage of his excellent reach when controlling the puck.