Teams look to future at NHL Draft

Thirty NHL teams are preparing to take part in this weekend’s 2012 Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, and their top affiliates are ready and waiting for the next wave of young American Hockey League stars to begin their professional careers.

In 2011-12, more than 200 former first- and second-round draft picks could be found on AHL rosters, including young standouts like Nazem Kadri, Magnus Paajarvi, Ryan Ellis, Zack Kassian, Peter Holland, Tim Erixon, Kyle Palmieri, Carter Ashton and Simon Despres — all among the 20 first-round selections from the 2009 draft who played in the league this year.

The 2012 Calder Cup champion Norfolk Admirals featured former first-rounder Alexandre Picard, who won the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Other top picks to appear in the AHL this past season include 2011 picks Mark Scheifele (seventh) and J.T. Miller (15th), 2010 selections Dylan McIlrath (10th) and Jack Campbell (11th), 2009 picks Scott Glennie (eighth) and Calvin de Haan (12th), as well as Louis Leblanc (18th in 2009), Jordan Caron (25th in 2009), Zach Boychuk (14th in 2008), Joe Colborne (16th in 2008), Jake Gardiner (17th in 2008), Thomas Hickey (fourth in 2007), Jonathon Blum (23rd in 2007) and Leland Irving (26th in 2006).

The Edmonton Oilers, parent club of the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, own the first pick in this year’s draft, which gets under way on Friday night from the Consol Energy Center.