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Teams preparing for future at draft

Thirty NHL teams took part in Saturday’s 2005 Entry Draft in Ottawa, and their affiliates are anxious for the next wave of AHL stars to begin their professional careers.

In 2004-05, more than 240 former first- and second-round draft picks could be found on American Hockey League rosters, including league MVP and scoring champion Jason Spezza, goal-scoring leader Mike Cammalleri, top defenseman Niklas Kronwall and standout rookies like Thomas Vanek, Ryan Suter, Ryan Whitney, Zach Parise, Cam Ward and Josh Harding.

The Calder Cup champion Philadelphia Phantoms boasted six former first-round draft picks. Jeff Carter, who led the AHL in postseason scoring with 23 points in 21 games, was the 11th overall pick in the 2003 draft, and Mike Richards, who posted 15 points in 14 playoff contests for the Phantoms, went 24th in the same year. Rookies R.J. Umberger and Ben Eager were also first-rounders, as was veteran defenseman John Slaney.

The Western Conference champion Chicago Wolves boasted goaltender Kari Lehtonen, the second overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, and defenseman Braydon Coburn, who went eighth overall in 2003.

Other top picks from 2003 to appear in the AHL this past season include Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Andrei Kostitsyn, Dustin Brown, Brent Burns and Ryan Kesler.

Phenom Sidney Crosby was selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins.