The futures of more than 200 young hockey players will be determined this weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota.
National Hockey League teams will stock up on talent, looking to find a diamond in the rough, and trying not to regret their decision the day after, the next season or years down the road.
The first round is slated for tonight in St. Paul, with six rounds to follow on Saturday.
With 30 general managers and team scouting staffs looking to leave an indelible mark on their respective franchise, here is some free advice of how things may shake down on Friday (and, remember, you get what you pay for).
Another draft, another plum for Oilers: C RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS . . . 106 points for WHL Red Deer last winter . . . Skilled but spindly (170 pounds) . . . terrific upside (to state the obvious).
¬į Central Scouting: No. 1; International Scouting Service: No. 1; The Hockey News: No. 1
Blue-line boost with addition of D ADAM LARSSON, a six-foot-three, 200-pounder . . . NHL-ready after three seasons in Swedish Elite League . . . Skated in world junior tournament and world championship.
¬į CS: No. 1 European skater; ISS: No. 2: THN: No. 2
Well-rounded LW GABRIEL LANDESKOG is a solid addition . . . Played in OHL, captained Kitchener (as a 17-year-old), recorded 36 goals in 53 dates . . . six foot one, 207 pounds . . . Big-league game already.
¬į CS: No. 2; ISS: No. 3: THN: No. 3
4. New Jersey
Thanks to a snappy Memorial Cup, C JONATHAN HUBERDEAU's stock got a boost . . . 105-point man with QMJHL Saint John (after 35 points the season before) . . . only 168 pounds, but supremely talented.
¬į CS: No. 3; ISS: No. 9: THN: No. 5
5. New York Islanders
Big (six foot four) and skilled (back-to-back 96-points seasons with QMJHL Drummondville), lots to like about C SEAN COUTURIER . . . Three points in world junior tourney.
¬į CS: No. 6; ISS: No. 4: THN: No. 4
Sens get mitts on D RYAN MURPHY, flashy rearguard . . . produced 79 points, including 26 goals, for OHL Kitchener . . . only five-foot-11, 176 pounds . . . dandy skater.
¬į CS: No. 9; ISS: No. 5: THN: No. 7
C RYAN STROME, after piling up 73 assists for OHL Niagara, takes dynamic playmaking skills to Manitoba's capital . . . third in league scoring with 106 points . . . six feet, 183 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 8; ISS: No. 6: THN: No. 6
Offence (58 points with OHL Niagara) and stature (six-foot-four) make D DOUGIE HAMILTON a good bet . . . strong at 193 pounds, and still growing . . . physical, too . . . lots to like.
¬į CS: No. 4; ISS: No. 7: THN: No. 10
9. Boston (from Toronto)
Ah, Phil Kessel, the gift that keeps on giving. D DUNCAN SIEMENS is a well-rounded commodity . . . six-foot-three, 197 pounds . . . 43 points and 121 penalty minutes for WHL Saskatoon.
¬į CS: No. 10; ISS: No. 10: THN: No. 12
To roars of crowd, Wild takes RW TYLER BIGGS, a nasty power forward . . . six foot two, 210 pounds . . . 48 games with American U18 side, piled up 17 goals, 112 penalty minutes.
¬į CS: No. 22; ISS: No. 8: THN: No. 20
11. Colorado (from St. Louis)
LW SVEN BARTSCHI, offensive dynamo from Switzerland . . . recorded 85 points, including 34 goals, for WHL Portland . . . five foot 11, 175 pounds . . . thrives in North American hockey.
¬į CS: No. 7; ISS: No. 21: THN: No. 8
Big lad playing in a men's league, C MIKA ZIBANEJAD displays a well-rounded style . . . six foot two, 191 pounds . . . fearless . . . nine points in 26 games for Djurgarden in Swedish Elite League.
¬į CS: No. 2 European skater; ISS: No. 14: THN: No. 11
GM Jay Feaster nabs point-producer C ZACK PHILLIPS . . . 95 points, including 38 goals, for QMJHL Saint John (after 44 points 2009-10) . . . Fredericton, N.B., native is six-foot-one, 181 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 15; ISS: No. 31: THN: No. 9
C ALEXANDER KHOKHLACHEV, a hard-working Russian, goes to Texas . . . five-foot-10, 188 pounds . . . already in North America (76 points for OHL Windsor) . . . skilled and aggressive.
¬į CS: No. 29; ISS: No. 16: THN: No. 13
15. New York Rangers
Edmonton native C MARK McNEILL is projected to be a power forward . . . already six-foot-one, 204 pounds . . . strong and smart . . . 32 goals in 70 games for WHL Prince Albert.
¬į CS: No. 14; ISS: No. 15: THN: No. 16
Near NHL-ready is LW BRANDON SAAD, a physically mature forward from OHL Saginaw . . . 55 points in 59 games . . . Gibsonia, Pa., native is six-foot-one, 208 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 19; ISS: No. 12: THN: No. 14
Lanky goal-scorer, RW JOEL ARMIA proved his worth against men in Finnish league at home . . . 18 goals in 48 games for Assat . . . six-foot-three, 191 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 4 European skater; ISS: No. 13: THN: No. 15
Whopper of a defender, D JAMIE OLEKSIAK is six-foot-seven, 244 pounds . . . Toronto native played his freshman season at Northeastern (HE) . . . 13 points in 38 outings.
¬į CS: No. 13; ISS: No. 19: THN: No. 17
19. Edmonton (from Los Angeles)
Oil gets D NATHAN BEAULIEU, a two-way blue-liner out of QMJHL Saint John . . . 45 points in 65 games . . . six-foot-two, 185 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 5; ISS: No. 23: THN: No. 18
Point-per-game at world junior tourney (on behalf of Denmark) and 58 points in 61 games (on behalf of OHL Oshawa), RW NICKLAS JENSEN is a power forward . . . six-foot-two, 188 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 21; ISS: No. 11: THN: No. 19
21. Ottawa (from Nashville)
Son of former NHLer Frank Musil, D DAVID MUSIL is a frill-free stay-at-home defender . . . two seasons with WHL Vancouver . . . six-foot-four, 200 pounds . . . gritty.
¬į CS: No. 38; ISS: No. 17: THN: No. 23
Poised and big-bodied (six-foot-three, 205 pounds), G JOHN GIBSON has plenty of promise . . . Pittsburgh native is committed to Michigan . . . Spent winter with American U18 squad.
¬į CS: No. 1 North American goalie; ISS: No. 3 goalie: THN: No. 27
Pens grab steady defender D JONAS BRODIN, after his (four-point) season in Swedish Elite League . . . six-foot-one, 165 pounds . . . own-zone expert already.
¬į CS: No. 3 European skater; ISS: No. 32: THN: No. 22
LW MATT PUEMPEL adds offensive spice . . . 133 points, including 67 goals, in 114 games with OHL Peterborough . . . CHL's top rookie in 2010 . . . six-foot, 198 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 28; ISS: No. 30: THN: No. 21
25. Toronto (from Philadelphia)
Not exactly truculent, C ROCCO GRIMALDI scores at every level . . . 34 goals in 50 games for American U18 team . . . College-bound native of California only five-foot-six, 163 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 32; ISS: No. 18: THN: No. 32
D SCOTT MAYFIELD has it all, size (six-foot-four, 197 pounds) and wheels . . . Spent last two season with USHL Youngstown . . . Committed to the University of Denver.
¬į CS: No. 24; ISS: No. 27: THN: No. 24
27. Tampa Bay
G CHRISTOPHER GIBSON, second goalie taken . . . 2.42 goals-against average, .920 save percentage, for QMJHL Chicoutimi . . . six-foot-one, 193 pounds . . . born in Finland.
¬į CS: No. 2 North American goalie; ISS: No. 2 goalie: THN: No. 29
28. San Jose
Russian-born and Czech-raised, RW DMITRI JASKIN (whose Canadian Hockey League rights are owned by WHL Calgary) is a budding power forward . . . six-foot-two, 196 pounds . . . physical.
¬į CS: No. 5 European skater; ISS: No. 24: THN: No. 30
LW TY RATTIE, Alberta kid is grabbed by Canucks . . . 79 points in 67 games for WHL Portland . . . six-foot, 167 pounds . . . talented, great vision, point-producer at every level so far.
¬į CS: No. 17; ISS: No. 22: THN: No. 33
30. Toronto (from Boston)
More western Canadian flavour to Leafs' blue-line with D JOE MORROW, a two-way defender from Sherwood Park, Alta. . . . Three seasons with WHL Portland . . . six-foot-one, 196 pounds.
¬į CS: No. 12; ISS: No. 41: THN: No. 34