NHL Draft: Hradek's Top 30

Updated: July 3, 2006, 5:15 PM ET
By E.J. Hradek | ESPN The Magazine

E.J. Hradek's Top 30 Prospects
1. Erik Johnson 6-4 222 pounds D USDP
The oversized defenseman wowed scouts with his performance at the World Junior Championships. Johnson can skate and hit. He currently plans on attending Minnesota in the fall.
2. Jordan Staal 6-4 215 C Peterborough (OHL)
The third of the four hockey-playing Staal brothers, Jordan compares favorably with older brother, Eric, at the same age. He could go No. 1.
3. Jonathan Toews 6-1 195 C Univ. of North Dakota
Toews is a solid two-way pivot that can play in all situations. Scouts love his hockey smarts and competitive nature.
4. Nicklas Backstrom 6-0 183 C Brynas (Sweden)
He didn't look out of place skating on a line with Wings star Henrik Zetterberg at the World Championship. At 18, he posted 26 points in 46 games in the Swedish Elite League.
5. Derick Brassard 6-0 172 C Drummondville (QMJHL)
Brassard had a big year with Drummondville of the QMJHL, scoring 44 goals and 116 points in 58 games. Scouts like his playmaking skills.
6. Phil Kessel 6-0 189 C Univ. of Minnesota
Kessel is an exciting offensive player that can beat opponents in one-on-one situations. He scored 42 points in 34 games as a freshman at Minnesota.
7. Peter Mueller 6-2 205 C Everett (WHL)
Scouts view Mueller as a smart player with deceptive speed. He makes others around him better. That's a nice trait.
8. Bryan Little 5-10 170 C Barrie (OHL)
Little is a competitive kid that isn't afraid to play in traffic. He has scored 30 or more goals in each of his three seasons with Barrie in the OHL.
9. Kyle Okposo 6-0 195 RW Des Moines (USHL)
Okposo projects as a power forward. A strong skater, he's tough to stop when he drives to the net.
10. Michael Frolik 6-1 185 RW Kladno (Czech Rep.)
A highly skilled offensive player, Frolik disappointed some scouts at the WJC. Still, he projects as a top six forward in the NHL.
11. Jonathan Bernier 5-11 177 G Lewiston (QMJHL)
Bernier is considered the best goaltending prospect in the draft. He has quick feet and he reads and reacts well to the play around him.
12. Nigel Williams 6-4 226 D U.S. National U-18
Williams has something you can't teach: size. He uses it to his advantage in stopping opposing forwards. He'll attend Wisconsin in the fall.
13. Bob Sanguinetti 6-1 174 D Owen Sound (OHL)
The New Jersey native is a good skater that can make things happen from the blue line. He must get better in his own zone.
14. Jiri Tlusty 6-0 196 LW Klando (Czech Rep.)
Tlusty is an excellent skater with a quick first stride. He has a heavy shot and he isn't afraid to play a physical game.
15. Chris Stewart 6-1 228 RW Kingston (OHL)
The brother of Panthers prospect Anthony Stewart, Chris also projects as a power forward. He can be tough to deal with around the net.
16. James Sheppard 6-1 204 LW/C Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Sheppard would rank higher if there weren't questions about his skating. He's a versatile two-way player.
17. Cory Emmerton 5-11 177 C Kingston (OHL)
A good skater with playmaking skills, Emmerton had 64 assists in 66 games with Kingston of the OHL.
18. Mark Mitera 6-3 202 D Michigan
The Michigan native is a hard-nosed defenseman who has impressed scouts with his competitive nature. He's a hard hitter who doesn't change his style on the road.
19. Nick Foligno 6-0 188 LW Sudbury (OHL)
The son of former NHLer Mike Foligno, Nick is a very competitive kid and good playmaker. He works well in the traffic areas.
20. Ondrej Fiala 6-1 183 C Everett (WHL)
The Czech native skated with Everett (WHL) during the 2005-06 season. He's a good skater that's difficult to knock off his feet.
21. Ty Wishart 6-4 205 D Prince George (WHL)
Wishart is an old-school, steady defender, who is difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. He isn't fancy, but he gets the job done.
22. Patrik Berglund 6-4 187 C Vasteras Jr. (Sweden)
Berglund is a tall kid who figures to fill out and get stronger as he matures. Scouts like his hockey sense and he can finish around the net.
23. Michael Grabner 6-0 170 RW Spokane (WHL)
A native of Villach, Austria, Grabner skated with Spokane (WHL) in 2005-06. He possesses a very quick first stride. Grabner scored 36 goals in 67 games.
24. Ben Shutron 5-11 186 D Kingston (OHL)
Shutron uses his strong skating skills to create offense from the blue line. He's particularly effective on the power play.
25. Brian Strait 6-0 200 D U.S. National U-18
Scouts see Strait as a strong skater who handles the puck well. The Boston native is a good open-ice hitter. Opponents are wise to keep their heads up.
26. Joe Ryan 6-1 189 D Quebec (QMJHL)
Another New Englander, Ryan skated for Memorial Cup champion Quebec (QMJHL) during the 2005-06 campaign. He can hammer the puck from the blue line.
27. Ivan Vishnevskiy 5-11 176 D Rouyn Noranda (QMJHL)
The Russian-born defender posted 48 points in 54 games for Rouyn Noranda in 2005-06. Scouts say he possess an explosive first stride.
28. David Fischer 6-3 185 D Apple Valley H.S. (Minn.)
Fischer was named Minnesota's "Mr. Hockey" in 2006, a prestigious honor given to the state's top high school player. A strong skater, he'll attend Minnesota in the fall.
29. Carl Sneep 6-4 210 D Brainerd H.S. (Minn.)
Sneep is light on his skates for a bigger player. Scouts like his confidence and poise. He'll skate at Boston College in 2006-07.
30. Riku Helenius 6-3 202 G Ilves Jr. (Finland Jr.)
The latest in recent run of talent stoppers from Finland, Helenius is a butterfly goalie with excellent size. Scouts like his quick glove hand.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.