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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
World's top prospects come to Toronto

The world's top 115 players eligible for selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft have been invited to the League's annual Draft Combine, May 30 to June 3, 2006 at the Park  Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel.

The Draft Combine will give NHL clubs a chance to evaluate hockey's future stars just three weeks before the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, June 24.  Each NHL club will be represented at the Combine by scouts, management and athletic training staff. The players will conduct interviews with the clubs and undergo medical examinations and fitness testing.

The invitees represent the NHL Central Scouting department's top-rated 70 skaters and nine goaltenders from North American leagues and the projected top 36 European skaters and goaltenders. The NHL will release its final rankings of Draft-eligible players on Thursday, April 20.

Highlighting the list of invitees is a record 10 players from the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based United States National Under-18 team, led by defenseman Erik Johnson, the top-rated North American player in Central Scouting's mid-season rankings.

Among the many invitees with famous family connections in hockey are: Peterborough Petes center Jordan Staal, whose brothers Eric (Carolina Hurricanes) and Marc (Sudbury Wolves, OHL) attended the Combine in 2003 and 2005, respectively; center Viktor Tikhonov (Demitrov, Russian league), grandson of the legendary Soviet coach of the same name; U.S. National Under-18 left wing Blake Geoffrion, grandson of Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie Geoffrion and son of former NHL player Danny; and Sudbury Wolves left wing Nick Foligno, son of former NHL player and current Wolves head coach Mike Foligno.

The 2006 NHL Entry Draft is Saturday, June 24 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, broadcast nationally in Canada on TSN and in the United States on OLN beginning at 6 p.m., Eastern time.

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