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Teams eyeing future at 2018 NHL Draft

Thirty-one National Hockey League teams are preparing to take part in this weekend’s 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, and their top affiliates are ready and waiting for the next wave of young American Hockey League stars to begin their professional careers.

In 2017-18, a total of 229 former first- and second-round draft picks played in the American Hockey League, including young standouts like Dylan Strome, Luke Kunin, Kyle Connor, Travis Sanheim, Daniel Sprong and Janne Kuokkanen.

The 2018 Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies featured seven players who were first- or second-round picks, including Timothy Liljegren (17th overall in 2017), Travis Dermott (34th in 2015), Frederik Gauthier (21st in 2013) and Carl Grundstrom (57th in 2016).

Liljegren was one of seven first-rounders from last summer’s draft to skate in the AHL this past season, joining Lias Andersson (7th overall) and Filip Chytil (21st) with the Hartford Wolf Pack; Owen Tippett (10th) with the Springfield Thunderbirds; Nick Suzuki (13th) with the Chicago Wolves; Cal Foote (14th) with the Syracuse Crunch and Klim Kostin (31st) with the San Antonio Rampage.

Other first-round picks in the AHL in 2017-18 include 2016 selections Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall), Alex Nylander (8th), Michael McLeod (12th), Julien Gauthier (21st), Tage Thompson (26th) and Lucas Johansen (28th); 2015 picks Lawson Crouse (11th), Denis Gurianov (12th), Jakub Zboril (13th), Zach Senyshyn (15th), Thomas Chabot (18th), Evgeny Svechnikov (19th), Colin White (21st), Jack Roslovic (25th), Noah Juulsen (26th), Jacob Larsson (27th) and Nick Merkley (30th); 2014 selections Michael Dal Colle (5th), Haydn Fleury (7th), Alex Tuch (18th), Kasperi Kapanen (22nd), Nikita Scherbak (26th), Nikolay Goldobin (27th), Josh Ho-Sang (28th) and John Quenneville (30th); and 2013 picks Samuel Morin (11th), Kerby Rychel (19th), Emile Poirier (22nd), Hunter Shinkaruk (24th), Michael McCarron (25th), Shea Theodore (26th), Morgan Klimchuk (28th) and Jason Dickinson (29th).

The Buffalo Sabres, parent club of the AHL’s Rochester Americans, own the first pick in this year’s draft, which gets underway on Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.