An inside look on the top 20 players available in this year's waiver draft as well as a prediction for how things will breakdown:
1) Mikael Backlund - Cougars
Young center with a lot of offensive upside. With an aging group at center in Calgary, Backlund could very well get more ice time and play an important role
this coming season.
2) Eric Fehr - Citadels
Scored 21 goals last season in Washington and was a top 50 prospect in the NHL for many years before making it to the show. Still young and full of potential.
3) Nikolai Antropov - Icedogs
Has the numbers in the WHL and is still scoring in the NHL. Will get nice ice-time for a young Atlanta club so that boasts well for a team looking for more than a one-season guy.
4) Kris Russell - Corinths
Offensive dman has looked nice for Columbus the past two seasons.
5) Ryan Callahan - Cougars
Would fit in well on most WHL clubs. Plays well in his own zone and knows how to score. Still only 25, he has scored 22 and 19 goals in the past two seasons.
6) Zach Hamill - Orcas
A former first-round pick in both the NHL & WHL, this young playmaking center is coming along really nicely in Boston's farm club. Still a year or two away but will jump right in and make a difference as soon as he does.
7) Jiri Lehtinen - Demons
On the older side but could immediately step in and help a club. Would be a nice fit to help a team's PK and add some complementary scoring.
8) Dan Cleary - Stallions
A solid veteran who knows how to score. He'd benefit a team like the Gorillas who are a player or two away from making a strong impact this season.
9) Chris Mason - Dugouts
Would be a nice fit on most clubs. He's a little bit older but he's still getting starts and still putting up numbers. Plus he's got a nice WHL rating which bodes well for him in this spot.
10) Cristobal Huet - Saints
Oh how I bet the Cats wished they had a pick in this draft. Huet has a solid WHL rating and would benefit a lot of teams picking in this draft for the next
couple of seasons.
11) Jiri Tlusty - Bulls
Has all the tools to be a solid offensive force in this league. Like many young players, just needs to learn how to bring it every night.
12) Fabian Brunnstrom - Cats
Was a top-10 pick in last season's draft and now is part of the waiver draft. Brunnstrom has a lot of creativity in the offensive zone and would be a solid
addition for teams rebuilding.
13) Dustin Jeffrey - Demons
Played very well in the AHL last season and moved to the wing which will help him in this year's camp for the Pens. The Pens need wingers, which means
Jeffrey will get a long look for a scoring line at this year's camp.
14) Sergei Zubov - Saints
He's on his last leg in the WHL but the kid still has solid offensive abilities. Would help a team like the Express who are better than a lot of teams they're still picks from in this draft.
15) Marc-Andre Gragnani - Corinths
A future PowerPlay quarterback and Buffalo needs help on defense. Will this be Gragnani's year to put up big numbers in the NHL?
16) Samuel Pahlsson - Cats
Solid two-way forward will immediately step in and help a club in need.
17) Enver Lisin - Kicks
This kid can fly. He's bounced back-and-forth between the NHL and AHL the past couple seasons but he oozes offensive potential if he can find the right fit.
18) Alexander Sulzer - Bulls
Nashville knows how to pick defenseman and Sulzer fits the Nashville mold. With Hamhuis gone Sulzer may step right and fill a top-four role for the
19) Chuck Kobasew - Kicks
Knows how to score just needs to stay healthy.
20) Devan Dubynk - Orcas
For those teams on the rebuild looking for a free goaltender, this is your guy. A little more upside than Montoya for a young goalie.
Other Notable Players
Daniel Girardi - Corinths
Jordan LaValle - Corinths
Ryan O'Byrne - Corinths
Fredrik Modin - Cougars
Trent Hunter - Demons
Luca Caputi - Demons
Ruslan Salei - Sparrows
Rob Blake - Icedogs
Bryan Allen - Stallions
Martin Biron - Kicks
Scott Hannan - Rink Rats
Shane O'Brien - Bulls
1. Mikael Backlund, SnowDogs - Snowdogs are rebuilding nicely and Backlund will fit in well on this young club.
2. Nikolai Antropov, Lunatics - Just added Heatley and Cammalleri so Antropov could be a nice addition to this club who will get more wins than last season.
3. Eric Fehr, Hoodrats - They need young assets and Fehr fits the mold.
4. Ryan Callahan, Capitols - In need of young wingers, Callahan will be a solid building block for this club.
5. Dan Cleary, Gorillas - They're looking for scorers and Cleary will be their guy.
6. Kris Russell, Stampede - Will learn well under Suter and Foote.
7. Jiri Lehtinen, Express - I see the Express taking a guy that helps them win now. They have an older club built to win this season. Lehtinen will be the
8. Zach Hamill, Fighting Irish - The Irish are rebuilding well. Hamill's their guy here.
1. Dustin Jeffrey, Fighting Irish - This kid will be ready soon and will play a solid, two-way role for the Irish.
2. Chris Mason, Express - Another pick to help them win now, Mason will be a nice backup to DiPietro if he goes down, which lets face it is pretty likely.
3. Fabian Brunnstrom, Stampede - Crafty, speedy and good in the offensive zone. This could be the steal of the draft.
4. Ruslan Salei, Gorillas - He's not part of the top 20 but the Gorillas need help on defense. They'll take a crack at a guy that will help them this season.
5. Jiri Tlusty, Capitols - Would be a nice addition to this club here.
6. Marc-Andre Gragnani, Hoodrats - Would go well on a second line, second PowerPlay with Chris Butler someday soon.
7. Samuel Pahlsson, Lunatics - Have made some moves to help them win this season. Pahlsson could help them out.
8. Alexander Sulzer, SnowDogs - If he's still on the board, Sulzer would be a fine pickup at this spot.