Teams preparing for future at draft

Thirty NHL teams took part in Saturday’s 2006 Entry Draft in Vancouver, and their affiliates are anxious for the next wave of AHL stars to begin their professional careers.

In 2005-06, more than 225 former first- and second-round draft picks could be found on American Hockey League rosters, including 2006 AHL Rookie of the Year Patrick O’Sullivan and other rising stars like Jimmy Howard, Al Montoya, Jeff Tambellini, Ladislav Smid, Josh Hennessy, Eric Nystrom, Matt Greene and Braydon Coburn.

The Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears boasted eight former first-round draft picks. Mike Green, an AHL All-Rookie defenseman in 2005-06, was the 29th overall pick in the 2004 draft, while All-Star rookie Eric Fehr went 18th overall in 2003. Kris Beech, Dave Steckel, Jakub Klepis, Boyd Gordon, Jonas Johansson and Jeff Schultz were also first-rounders.

The Western Conference champion Milwaukee Admirals boasted former sixth-overall picks Brian Finley (1999) and Scottie Upshall (2002), as well as Ryan Parent, taken 18th overall in 2005.

Other top-10 picks to appear in the AHL this past season include Marc-Andre Fleury, Andrew Ladd, Syracuse’s Alexandre Picard, Andrei Kostitsyn and Brent Krahn.

The St. Louis Blues, parent club of the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen, selected defenseman Erik Johnson with the first pick in Saturday’s draft.