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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos of the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League is the top-ranked North American skater for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, according to NHL Central Scouting Bureau's final rankings. The final rankings features the top 210 skaters and 30 goaltenders in North America and the top 175 skaters and 15 goaltenders from Europe.

Stamkos, a native of Scarborough, Ontario, tallied 58 goals in 61 games to finish second in the Ontario Hockey League scoring race. The 6'0", 176-pound centerman also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championships.

Joining Stamkos among the top North American skaters are a pair of OHL defensemen: #2-ranked Zach Bogosian (Massena, New York) of the Peterborough Petes and #3-ranked Drew Doughty (London, Ontario) of the Guelph Storm. Bogosian, second overall among OHL defensemen with 50 assists, was the only defenseman to lead his team in points this season (11-50--61). Doughty, also a member of Canada’s gold-medal junior team in 2008, was named Top Defenseman of the World Junior tournament and became just the fifth Canadian defenseman to win the award (Marc Staal 2006, Dion Phaneuf 2005, Bryan McCabe 1995, Gord Kluzak 1982).

The three top-rated players are closely followed by two stand-out Western Hockey League defensemen, both from the Kelowna Rockets -- #4-ranked Tyler Myers (Houston,Texas) and #5-ranked Luke Schenn (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan).

Thomas McCollum (Amherst, New York), from the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, is the top-rated North American goaltender, while left wing Nikita Filatov (Moscow, Russia), is the top ranked European skater.

Filatov played in 32 games for CSKA of the Russian Junior league, totaling 66 points (32-34--66). He was Russia’s leading scorer at the 2008 World Junior Championships, going 4-5--9 in seven games, with 2-1--3 coming in Russia’s victory over the United States in the bronze medal game.

In its 32nd year of operation, the NHL Central Scouting Service provides scouting and evaluation of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire, NHL Central Scouting employs eight full-time and ten part-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing in Europe, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff of five scouts at European Scouting Services based in Finland. Combined, the NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Service will have seen in excess of 3,000 games this season.

The 2008 NHL Entry Draft will take place at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. The first round will take place on Friday, June 20 commencing at 7 p.m., ET and the subsequent rounds (two through seven) will begin at 10 a.m., ET Saturday, June 21.

The Tampa Bay Lightning hold the first overall selection and are followed in the top five by the Los Angeles Kings, Atlanta Thrashers, St. Louis Blues and the New York Islanders.

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