Thirty NHL teams are preparing to take part in this weekend’s 2010 Entry Draft in Los Angeles, and their top affiliates are ready and waiting for the next wave of young AHL stars to begin their professional careers.
In 2009-10, more than 200 former first- and second-round draft picks could be found on American Hockey League rosters, including young standouts like Tomas Tatar, Zach Boychuk, Tyler Ennis, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Cory Schneider, Lars Eller, Mikael Backlund, and P.K. Subban.
The 2010 Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears were again backstopped by goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who captured his second AHL championship in as many professional seasons. The 22-year-old Neuvirth was a second-round selection (34th overall) by the Washington Capitals in 2006, and was joined on the Bears by Calder Cup Playoffs MVP Chris Bourque (33rd in 2004), Francois Bouchard (35th in 2006), Karl Alzner (5th in 2007) and John Carlson (27th in 2008).
Other top-15 picks to appear in the AHL this past season include 2008 picks Colin Wilson (seventh), Mikkel Boedker (eighth), Kyle Beach (11th), and Erik Karlsson (15th), 2007 selections Kyle Turris (third), Thomas Hickey (fourth), Zach Hamill (eighth), Logan Couture (ninth), Keaton Ellerby (10th), Brandon Sutter (11th), and Kevin Shattenkirk (14th), as well as Jonathan Bernier (11th in 2006), Jiri Tlusty (13th in 2006), Riku Helenius (15th in 2006), Benoit Pouliot (fourth in 2005), Brian Lee (ninth in 2005), Ryan O’Marra (15th in 2005), Al Montoya (sixth in 2004), Alexandre Picard (eighth in 2004), Boris Valabik (10th in 2004), and Devan Dubnyk (14th in 2004).
The Edmonton Oilers, parent club of the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, own the first pick in this year’s draft, which gets underway on Friday night from the Staples Center.