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Countdown to the NHL draft

Updated: May 25, 2007, 7:20 PM ET
By Dan Galvin | ESPN The Magazine

In June, you'd think the NHL's toughest battles play out on the ice as the final two clubs fight it out for the Stanley Cup. In reality, some of the most intense action takes place in war rooms across North America as 30 teams prepare to draft 18-year-olds you've never heard of.

Yes, on June 22, NHL suits will be gambling on kids from Okotoks (Canada), Omsk (Russia) and Okene (Nigeria). And finding the next Alexander Ovechkin in such far-flung locales isn't easy.

"I'm not home ...

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