2003 draft promises to be fantastic

By Jake Dole
Although the 2002 draft is still 6 months away, a lot of talk and news are going around about an NHL draft that could be the best ever. If you thought that the two-way race of Jason Spezza and Ilya Kovalchuk is exciting, you might be surprised to know that in the 2003 draft, there could be 5-10 potential candidates for the top spot overall.

The 2002 draft looks to be an average one, in comparison to most, more comparable to the one taking place in 2000. A lot of the players are considering passing the draft as well, such as the Austrian Thomas Vanek and the American blueliner Mark Stuart. This would only forebode a potentially mind-boggling first round extravaganza in 2003.

The European invasion will be the most noteworthy of that class. Excellent players will be eligible from Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. The United States and Canada will offer solid depth of talent, but it will be overshadowed with the plethora of Europeans. Needless to say, this could be the first time Europeans outnumber North Americans in the first round in history of NHL drafts.

Here is the sneak peak outlining some of the talent eligible for the 2003 draft:

Steve Bernier , Right Wing – A feisty, physical player is turning heads in the Quebec hockey league.

Dustin Brown , Right Wing — 32 goals in 35 OHL games this year.

Braydon Coburn , Defense – A Saskatchewan kid is a combination of size and skill with the Portland Winter Hawks of the WHL.

Denis Ezhov , Defense – A stay-at-home 16-year old blueliner is playing in the Russian Superleague.

Nathan Horton , Center – Oshawa Generals’ forward is big, tough, mean and plenty skilled too.

Milan Michalek , Left Wing – Czech has drawn raves for his two-way game.

Robert Nilsson , Center – Swede playmaker has been compared to Peter Forsberg.

Patrick O’Sullivan , Center – A bright spot on the, otherwise, grim situation in Mississauga.

Roman Petrov , Right Wing – Pure sniper is being labeled by many as the top Russian 16-year old.

Eric Staal , Center – Two-way forward producing at a point-a-game pace with Peterborough.

Nikolai Zherdev , Center – Arguably the top pure talent in the draft shined at the Six-Nations tournament in August.

For more information about the 2003 draft, don’t miss HF’s upcoming feature, “Draft Preview: Beyond Tomorrow”, which will be on later in the week. The preview will extensively profile the top 2003 and 2004-eligible players in the world. Don’t miss it!

Comments? Questions? E-mail me at the address supplied above.