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Teams preparing for future at draft

Thirty NHL teams took part in the 2007 Entry Draft in Columbus, and their affiliates are anxious for the next wave of AHL stars to begin their professional careers.

In 2006-07, more than 200 former first- and second-round draft picks could be found on American Hockey League rosters, including standout rookies like Matt Lashoff, David Krejci, Marek Schwarz, Rob Schremp, Alex Bourret and Drew Stafford.

The Calder Cup champion Hamilton Bulldogs boasted nine former first- and second-round draft picks. Carey Price (right), who won the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs, was the fifth overall pick by Montreal in 2005. Kyle Chipchura was drafted 18th overall in 2004, Andrei Kostitsyn was 10th in 2003 and Mathieu Biron went 21st in 1998. Maxim Lapierre, Dan Jancevski, Duncan Milroy, Eric Manlow and Cory Urquhart were all second-rounders.

Other top-10 picks to appear in the AHL this past season include Phil Kessel (5th in 2006), Benoit Pouliot (4th in 2005), Cam Barker (3rd in 2004), Al Montoya (6th in 2004), Boris Valabik (10th in 2004), Braydon Coburn (8th in 2003) and Eric Nystrom (10th in 2002).

The Chicago Blackhawks, parent club of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, selected Patrick Kane with the first pick on Friday night. The Blackhawks had a bumper crop of recent draft picks skate in the AHL in 2006-07, including Barker, Corey Crawford, Michael Blunden, David Bolland, Bryan Bickell, Adam Berti, Jack Skille and 2007 Second Team AHL All-Stars Dustin Byfuglien and Troy Brouwer.