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The Straight Edge: Pre-draft winners and losers

Jonathan Bernier was named the best goaltender in the American League this season. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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Jonathan Bernier was named the best goaltender in the American League this season. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The 2010 draft is one week away; it’s officially happy time if you’re a prospects fan. And while the merits of Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Seguin have been discussed ad nauseum, one thing still worth digesting is how certain teams are positioned big-picture heading into the draft in Los Angeles.

The order of picks is officially set and the NHL recently released a helpful breakdown of which teams select when and how often. For the sake of preview, let’s delve into the pre-draft winners and losers, shall we?

WINNERS
Carolina The Canes head into the draft with a league-high 11 picks, including their first-rounder (seventh overall) and three second-round selections. Carolina only garnered a C+ rating in this year’s edition of THN’s Future Watch, so obviously there is room for improvement. That being said, youngsters such as Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman are ready to step up and Brandon Sutter appears to already be there, so the Canes can now focus on their defense. With so many picks, GM Jim Rutherford has the luxury of dangling a selection or two in exchange for a solid NHL D-man and still have enough choices to re-stack the cupboard.

Los Angeles The hosts will walk into the Staples Center with an already exciting NHL lineup, the promise of young goalie Jonathan Bernier joining those ranks, the No. 1 ranking in Future Watch and nine selections, including five in the first 100 spots. Plus, the Kings can soak in fan adulation when GM Dean Lombardi takes to the podium to announce the 19th pick overall on the Friday. They may even be able to take a hometown kid (as Montreal did with Louis Leblanc last year) if Long Beach’s Emerson Etem is still on the board.

Edmonton Well, yeah…the Oilers hold the No.1 pick overall, so it’s going to be an exciting day for their fans. But Edmonton also has nine more picks after that, tying them with the Islanders for second-most behind Carolina. Edmonton ranked 12th overall in Future Watch, but many improvements can be made to the organization’s depth. On top of that, GM Steve Tambellini can use his excess picks (two second, a third, a fourth, a fifth, three sixth and a seventh) in a package deal to help dump some of the team’s bad contracts in a trade.

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LOSERS
Calgary A team that missed the playoffs and ranked 23rd overall in Future Watch doesn’t currently have a pick until the beginning of the third round. Meanwhile, the Flames sent one of their best young players, Dion Phaneuf, to Toronto last season and until Mikael Backlund becomes a regular NHLer, the team hasn’t graduated a first-rounder to the big squad since 2003 – which, ironically enough, was Phaneuf.

Ottawa I was torn between the Senators and Dallas Stars in this spot. The Sens have five picks to Dallas’ NHL-low four, but the Stars pick higher, drafting no later than the fifth round, while the Sens have a sixth and seventh round selection. Ottawa is higher in Future Watch, but a lot of turmoil seems to be surrounding that lineup lately and the Sens don’t have the farm system to plug any big holes. The Sens pick 16th overall, then not again until No. 76.

Toronto Too obvious? Well, the Leafs don’t pick until the third round and have only six selections overall. Two of those are fifth-rounders and two are seventh-rounders, meaning GM Brian Burke doesn’t even have a lot of options in packaging picks to move up. The X-factor, of course, is defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who would garner that much-coveted first round pick in a trade. But other than a Kaberle deal, Toronto may be doing a lot of watching in L.A.; not good for Future Watch’s 18th-ranked franchise.

Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday. 

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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