NHL Draft: 1st Round

Updated: August 2, 2005, 11:17 AM ET
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2005 NHL Draft -- 1st Round
Pick Team Name Pos. Team
1 Pittsburgh Sidney Crosby C Rimouski (QMJHL)
E.J. Hradek's Take: A no-brainer pick for GM Craig Patrick. Crosby puts Pittsburgh back on the NHL map. Sid The Kid's presence with legend Mario Lemieux will help the Penguins recruit some veteran free-agent help for the coming season. And, sources within the Penguins organization say the demand for Crosby sweaters and signed merchandise has already reached dramatic levels. Now, if they can just get that new building.
2 Anaheim Bobby Ryan RW Owen Sound (OHL)
Hradek's Take: GM Brian Burke, after shopping the second pick for a few days, surprises by tabbing bulky RW Bobby Ryan. Many thought Burke would choose U.S. born defenseman Jack Johnson. Still, the 6-1, 225-pound Ryan is a strong pick. He projects as a power forward in the NHL. One scout told me that if Ryan can continue to improve his skating, he could be a John LeClair-type player.
3 Carolina Jack Johnson D U.S. National U-18
Hradek's Take: Jack Johnson is a tough defender from the U.S. National Program. Johnson, a friend of Sidney Crosby from their days at Shattuck-St. Mary's, is an excellent choice. There was much talk the Hurricanes would take Benoit Pouliot. Johnson, however, will be a much better fit in Carolina, where they still need to sell the game. Johnson is a physical American-born player. That works well in the new markets in the U.S.
4 Minnesota Benoit Pouliot LW Sudbury (OHL)
Hradek's Take: At 6-2, 180 pounds, Pouliot is a long, lean forward who can play center or wing. He enjoyed a terrific rookie season for Sudbury, totaling 29 goals and 67 points. He's an impressive skater who'll enjoy the fast ice surface at the Xcel Center. A gifted offensive player, he'll learn the rest of the game for Wild coach Jacques Lemaire. That's a huge benefit. If Pouliot realizes just how good he can be, the Wild may have a steal.
5 Montreal Carey Price G Tri-City (WHL)
Hradek's Take: Are you kidding? Why would the Canadiens select a goalie at No. 5? They have Jose Theodore, who turns 29 in September. Price is the top-rated goalie, but he doesn't fit in Montreal. In fact, one scout told me he wasn't sure Price would live up to the expectations. They could have taken Gilbert Brule. They could have taken Jack Skille or Marc Staal. I don't get this one.
6 Columbus Gilbert Brule C Vancouver (WHL)
Hradek's Take: This could be a great pick for the Blue Jackets. One scout compared Brule to a young Doug Gilmour. Brule is a skilled kid who plays with tough edge. He had 39 goals, 87 points and 169 PIM for Vancouver (WHL). Some say he's too small (5-10, 180) to play that game in the NHL. Maybe. But, the Hall of Fame is full of guys who were no bigger than Brule. I really like this pick.
7 Chicago Jack Skille RW U.S. National U-18
Hradek's Take: A solid first pick for new GM Dale Tallon. American-born Jack Skille is a very good skater with good size. Scouts project him as a third line-type player, who has the skill to be even better. In recent years, the Hawks have drafted many Europeans. This is a signal to Hawks fans that things are going to change.
8 San Jose (from Atlanta) Devin Setoguchi RW Saskatoon (WHL)
Hradek's Take: Sharks GM Doug Wilson trades up to reach for goal-scoring Setoguchi. He netted 33 goals in 2004-05. Clearly, Wilson must have thought another club selecting between numbers 8-12 was interested in Setoguchi. If not, why move up to get a kid that was projected as a middle-to-late first-round pick? Wilson says Setoguchi is a character kid. He better hope so. Here's a little bad news for Sharks fans, Setoguchi wasn't invited to Canada's World Junior summer training camp.
Note: Sharks obtained the pick in a trade with Atlanta.
9 Ottawa Brian Lee D Moorhead H.S.
Hradek's Take: The Senators have brewing problems with their defense because of the possible free-agent defections of Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden next summer. So, GM John Muckler wanted defense. He passes on big Marc Staal in favor of Minnesota-born Brian Lee. The lanky defender was a surprise selection to the 2005 U.S. World Junior team. He rarely left the bench during the tournament. Lee is an offensive-minded defender. Down the road, Lee might be a nice fit in Ottawa.
10 Vancouver Luc Bourdon D Val D'or (QMJHL)
Hradek's Take: Anticipating the coming rule changes, new Canucks GM Dave Nonis grabs Bourdon. Some scouts weren't sold on Bourdon's hockey sense. He struggled a bit on the Canadian blue line at the Under-18 championships. If he can figure it out, he's got the size to be a steady defender. This is a safe pick. They might have been better off going for Marc Staal.
11 Los Angeles Anze Kopitar C Sodertalje (SWE Jr.)
Hradek's Take: The Slovenian-born Kopitar was rated as a top five or six pick. Clearly, he dropped because teams were a little scared to select a player from a country that does not typically produce hockey players. Still, scouts were impressed with hands and vision. He dominated in the Swedish junior league and didn't look out of place at the worlds, playing against men. Kopitar seems to be high risk-high reward. Time will tell.
12 Rangers (from SJ) Marc Staal D Sudbury (OHL)
Hradek's Take: When Marc Staal dropped out of the top 10, you knew someone might step up and make a move to get him. The Rangers, armed with extra draft picks due to several trades late in the 2003-04 season, did just that. Some scouts like Staal more than others. There are those who feel he projects as a No. 1 or No. 2 defender. Others see him as a No. 4 or 5. Either way, he's a quality kid. And, we all know the Rangers could use some quality people on their bench.
13 Buffalo Marek Zagrapan C Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Hradek's Take: GM Darcy Regier opts for Zagrapan over Canadian-born Ryan O'Marra. Zagrapan scored more than a point per game in the QMJHL. As is the case with many prospects, scouts have mixed feelings about Zagrapan. His size (6-1, 185) and skill level should give him an opportunity to play in the NHL. Wisely, he worked to improve his defensive game and his willingness to play in traffic during his first junior season.
14 Washington Sasha Pokulok D Cornell Univ. (ECAC)
Hradek's Take: GM George McPhee goes off the board for the 6-5, 220-pound Montreal-born Pokulok, who battled through knee and ankle injuries, playing just 22 games (three goals, 10 points). McPhee thinks Pokulok projects as a top-four defenseman. In fact, he compared Pokulok's hockey sense to long-time Rangers defenseman Ron Greshner. This is another high risk-high reward pick.
15 N.Y. Islanders Ryan O'Marra C Erie (OHL)
Hradek's Take: Some scouts thought O'Marra might go in the top 10. He falls to No. 15. O'Marra is a smart, well-spoken kid. One scout thought he was a little too smart for his own good. That said, Isles GM Mike Milbury likes those types of young prospects. Born in Japan, but raised in Canada, O'Marra could be a second-line center in the NHL if he can continue to improve his skating.
16 Atlanta (from NYR) Alex Bourret RW Lewiston (QMJHL)
Hradek's Take: Good job by GM Don Waddell, who traded back twice and still got the player he wanted with stocky center Bourret. A two-way player that skates with an edge, Bourret scored 31 goals, collected 86 points and piled up 172 PIM. He could become a fan favorite in Atlanta. But, by the looks of things on draft day, Bourret had better get on the bike! He looks like he's been having too much fun this summer.
17 Phoenix Martin Hanzal C Budejovice (CZE Jr.)
Hradek's Take: Martin Hanzal is blessed with great size (6-3, 189 pounds) and skill. Still, many scouts don't like his work ethic or desire. They thought he was a major disappointment at the World Under-18 tournament. Coyotes GM Mike Barnett is willing to roll the dice that Hanzal will figure it out. Based on my conversations with scouts, it's a pretty big risk.
18 Nashville Ryan Parent D Guelph (OHL)
Hradek's Take: Predators GM David Poile is a no-nonsense kind of guy. And, his top pick, Ryan Parent, is the same kind of player. Scouts see him as a safe pick. At the NHL level, he projects to a No. 4, 5 or 6 defender. His hockey sense will help him advance, while more talented prospects get left behind.
19 Detroit Jakub Kindl D Kitchener (OHL)
Hradek's Take: Kindl brings good size (6-3, 183) and skill. The Czech-born defender struggled to be consistent during his first year in the Canadian Junior system. He scored three goals and 14 points for Kitchener. The Wings have a good track record in the draft despite always picking near the back of the pack. Kindl is a long-range project.
20 Florida (from PHI) Kenndal McArdle LW Moose Jaw (WHL)
Hradek's Take: McArdle is a tremendous natural athlete, who could have been a world-class sprinter. An aggressive winger, McArdle came out of nowhere to be a first-round pick. Scouts say he's a hard worker who takes instruction and criticism well. The Panthers jumped up to get him. It seems like they'll be happy they did.
21 Toronto Tuukka Rask G Ilves Jr. (FIN Jr.)
Hradek's Take: Finnish-born Rask was rated the second-best goalie in the draft behind Corey Price. It's a common-sense pick for the Leafs, who don't have much goaltending depth in their system. In recent years, Finland has produced a number of good goalies (Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen).
22 Boston Matt Lashoff D Kitchener (OHL)
Hradek's Take: A native of Albany, N.Y., Lashoff is a good-sized (6-2, 200 pounds) defender who can hammer the puck from the blue line. An early-season illness (mononucleosis) set him back a little this season. He played in just 44 games and he was bypassed for selection on the U.S. World Junior team. Some scouts feel he can be more physical.
23 New Jersey Nicklas Bergfors W Sodertalje (SWE Jr.)
Hradek's Take: Swedish-born Bergfors gets high marks from scouts for his skill and competitive nature. In an unusual move for a Swedish player, Bergfors plans on coming to North America next season to play in the Canadian Junior system. He feels it will help him make the transition to the NHL. He netted six goals in seven games during the World Under-18 tournament. Devils scouting director David Conte is among the best in the game. If he likes Bergfors, that's good enough for me.
24 St. Louis T.J. Oshie C Warroad H.S.
Hradek's Take: Blues GM Larry Pleau went off the board to grab Minnesota-born Oshie, who was ranked as the 43rd North American skater by the NHL's Central Scouting. At 5-10, 170 pounds, Oshie helped Warroad High School to Minnesota's Class A state title. He has offensive flash and the ability to beat opponents one-on-one. Oshie will attend North Dakota in the fall.
25 Edmonton Andrew Cogliano C St. Michael's (OPJHL)
Hradek's Take: Cogliano would have been picked higher if he'd been just a little bigger. At 5-9, 175 pounds, he was deemed a bit too small to be a factor in the NHL. Then again, that's what they said about Martin St. Louis, right? Cogliano scored 102 points in 49 games. That's more than two points per game. On the fast ice in Edmonton, Cogliano could be fun to watch. I like the pick. He'll attend Michigan in the fall.
26 Calgary Matt Pelech D Sarnia (OHL)
Hradek's Take: Flames GM Darryl Sutter thought big 6-3, 220-pound defender Pelech flew under the radar during his season at Sarnia because of injuries (he had his jaw broken twice) that limited him to just 31 games. Pelech is a project that will need some time to develop. If he does, he'll be a nice addition to one of the league's best group of defenders.
27 Washington (from COL) Joe Finley D Sioux Falls (USHL)
Hradek's Take: I'm starting to wonder if George McPhee is drafting for the Wizards. Like earlier first-round pick Pokulok, Finley is an oversized defender. The 6-7, 229-pound Finley is an intriguing project. Several scouts who watched him play had serious questions about his mobility. They might be right. But, remember, plenty of scouts questioned Zdeno Chara, too.
28 Dallas Matt Niskanen D Virginia H.S.
Hradek's Take: The Stars wanted to trade up into the top 15 or 20, but when that failed they tabbed 6-0, 195-pound Niskanen, a native of Mountain Iron, Minn. Niskanen is a natural athlete who also starred on his high school's baseball and football teams. He will attend Minnesota-Duluth in the fall. Stars veteran amateur scout Bob Gernander, who has a keen eye for talent, lives in Minnesota and has likely seen Niskanen play many times.
29 Philadelphia (from FLA) Steve Downie RW Windsor (OHL)
Hradek's Take: Downie is one of those guys that you love if he's on your team or hate if he's playing against you. That makes him a great fit in Philadelphia. The 5-10, 195-pound center tallied 79 points and a whopping 179 PIM during the 2004-05 season. Scouts say he's competitive and better than you think.
30 Tampa Bay Vladimir Mihalik D Presov (SVK)
Hradek's Take: Scouts say 6-7, 220-pound Mihalik does remind them of fellow Slovakian, Zdeno Chara. If that's the case, GM Jay Feaster belted a homer with the last pick of the first round. Mihalik, a big guy who loves to hit, impressed scouts at the Under-18 championships. If the club is patient with him, he could be a nice fit somewhere down the road.