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NHL, AHL clubs look to future at Draft

Thirty National Hockey League teams are preparing to take part in this weekend’s 2016 Entry Draft in Buffalo, N.Y., and their top affiliates are ready and waiting for the next wave of young American Hockey League stars to begin their professional careers.

In 2015-16, a total of 256 former first- and second-round draft picks played in the American Hockey League, including young standouts like William Nylander, Jakub Vrana, Nick Ritchie, Hunter Shinkaruk, David Pastrnak and 2015-16 Dudley (Red) Garrett award co-winner Mikko Rantanen.

The 2016 Calder Cup champion Lake Erie Monsters featured four first-round draft picks, including recent Columbus picks Zach Werenski (8th overall in 2015), Sonny Milano (16th overall in 2014) and Kerby Rychel (19th overall in 2013). In addition, Monsters rookie defenseman Dillon Heatherington was a second-round pick by the Blue Jackets in 2013, and Anton Forsberg, Joonas Korpisalo, Josh Anderson, Daniel Zaar, T.J. Tynan, Lukas Sedlak, Nick Moutrey and Calder Cup Playoffs MVP Oliver Bjorkstrand were all drafted by Columbus since 2011.

Other first-round selections to appear in the AHL this past season include 2014 picks Leon Draisaitl (3rd overall), Kevin Fiala (11th), Julius Honka (14th), Anthony DeAngelo (19th), Kasperi Kapanen (22nd), Nikita Scherbak (26th), Nikolay Goldobin (27th) and Adrian Kempe (29th); 2013 picks Jonathan Drouin (3rd overall), Darnell Nurse (7th), Samuel Morin (11th), Josh Morrissey (13th), Ryan Pulock (15th), Nikita Zadorov (16th), Anthony Mantha (20th), Frederik Gauthier (21st), Emile Poirier (22nd), Michael McCarron (25th), Shea Theodore (26th), Marko Dano (27th), Jason Dickinson (29th) and Ryan Hartman (30th); and 2012 selections Griffin Reinhart (4th overall), Derrick Pouliot (8th), Slater Koekkoek (10th), Radek Faksa (13th), Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th), Michael Matheson (23rd), Malcolm Subban (24th), Jordan Schmaltz (25th), Brendan Gaunce (26th), Henrik Samuelsson (27th) and Brady Skjei (28th).

The Toronto Maple Leafs, parent club of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, own the first pick in this year’s draft, which gets underway on Friday night at the First Niagara Center.