The first round of the NHL Entry Draft gets most of the attention. Rounds 2 through 7 give teams a chance to turn a good draft into a great one.
With 30 players off the board after Friday night's first round, NHL general managers will grab a few hours of sleep and be back at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday morning for the final six rounds (11 a.m., NHL Network, streaming on NHL.com). The Edmonton Oilers, who started the first round by taking Red Deer center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins No. 1, will again be on clock for the first pick of the second round.
Among the players the Oilers will have to choose from are Ty Rattie, a forward with Portland of the Western Hockey League who at No. 17 is NHL Central Scouting's highest-rated North American skater still on the board. Central Scouting's next three North Americans -- Oshawa center Boone Jenner, Saginaw forward Brandon Saad and Saint John forward Tomas Jurco -- are also available. The top-ranked North American defenseman still on the board is Scott Mayfield, who plays for Youngstown of the USHL; he's 24th.
With only five of the 139 European skaters rated by Central Scouting taken in the first round, the Oilers and the teams that follow them will be able to choose from players such as Czech forward Dmitrij Jaskin (No. 5), Finnish forward Miikka Salomaki (No. 7) and Swedish center Joachim Nermark (No. 8). Another Swede, Rasmus Bengtsson, is the top-rated European defenseman remaining -- he's rated 10th overall among European skaters by Central Scouting.
Of course, if the Oilers want a goaltender, they'll have the pick of the lot. For the third time in five years, no goaltender was taken in the opening round.
The top two North American goaltenders are both named Gibson -- though they're unrelated. Top-rated John Gibson plays for the U.S. National Team Development Program in the USHL, while Christopher Gibson wears the pads for Chicoutimi of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Among the 10 European goaltenders ranked by Central Scouting, Finland's Samu Perhonen is No. 1, followed by Sweden's Magnus Hellberg.
The pace of Rounds 2 through 7 is brisk: The final 181 players in the draft will be taken in about the same amount of time that NHL GM's used to take the first 30. But that doesn't mean the general managers will take Saturday's selections lightly -- not when there's potentially so much at stake.
For example, the Boston Bruins likely wouldn't have won the Stanley Cup without the contributions of second-day picks like Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron (both second-round picks) and rookie forward Brad Marchand (third round). Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas was picked by Quebec in the ninth round (which doesn't even exist any more) in 1994, and key defensemen Tomas Kaberle (eighth round) and Dennis Seidenberg (sixth round) turned into solid NHL players despite being passed over numerous times in their draft year.