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by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Who Will the Cats Pick in the 2006 Entry Draft?

All eyes will be on the GM Place in Vancouver this Saturday for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Below is a look of some of the top players that are expected to be selected in this year's draft.

Who will be the Cats next first round draft choice? We will find out soon enough!!

1)Erik Johnson- A 6-4 222-pound defenseman from Minnesota. Not only can he play defense, but is a threat in the offensive zone as well. In seven games played in the 2006 WJC Johnson tallied four points (1-3-4) helping Team USA earn the Bronze medal. He also appeared in 47 games recording 33 points (16-33-49) for the USA U-18 National team.

2)Phil Kessel- A 6-0 189-pound center from Wisconsin. Kessel was the leading point scorer of the 2006 WJC with 12 points (1-11-12). In 2005 WJC he had 16 points (9-7-16). Last season, Kessel recorded 51 points (18-33-51) in 39 games, and was later named WCHA Rookie Of the Year.

3)Jonathan Toews- A 6-1 195-pound center from Winnipeg. In 41 games for North Dakota Toews had 21 goals and 17 assists for 38 points. He also notched a pair of assists for the gold medal winning Canadian team in the WJC.

4)Jordan Staal- A 6-4 209-pound center from Ontario. Jordon Staal is the brother Eric Staal, star of the Carolina Hurricanes. Jordan has played two seasons with Peterborough in the OHL. Last season in 68 games Staal recorded 68 points (28-40-68).

5)Nicklas Backstrom- A 6-0 183-pound center from Sweden. Last year Backstrom was the Sweden Elite Leagues Rookie of the year. In 46 games for Brynas (Sweden Elite League), Backstrom recorded 10 goals and 16 assists for a total of 26 points.

6)Peter Mueller- A 6-2 200-pound center from Minnesota. Mueller played in seven games on the Bronze medal winning Team USA team scoring two goals with four assists. He also played for Everett in the WHL tallying an impressive 58 points (26-32-58) in 52 games.

7)Derrick Brassard- A 6-0 174-pound center from Quebec. Born a week too late to be eligible for the 2005 draft. Brassard had his best season yet playing for Drummond in the QMJHL last year. He played in 58 games tallying 116 Points (44-72-116).

8)Jiri Tlusty - A 6-1 185-pound left wing from the Czech Republic. Last year, Tlusty played in the Czech Republic top league for Kladano. In 44 games he scored seven goals with 3 assists. He also played for the Czechs in the WJC but was held scoreless.

9)Bryan Little - A 5-10 194-pound center form Edmonton. Little is the captain of the Barrie Colts in the OHL and at age 16 he was first player in Colts history to record 30 goals in one season. Last season her scored 42 goals with 67 assists.

10)Kyle Okhposo- A 6-0 195-pound right wing from Minnesota. Last year, Okposo played for Des Moines in the USHL. In his rookie campaign he scored 27 goals with 31 assists, earning rookie of the year honors in the USHL.

11)Nigel Williams - A 6-4 226-pound defenseman from Illinois. For the United States U-18 team he recorded 15 points (6-9-15) in 48 games. Nigel has been compared to Chris Pronger of the Edmonton Oilers, when they were the same age.

12)Michael Frolik - A 6-1" 187-pound right wing from the Czech Republic. Just 18 months ago Frolik was thought to be the #1 prospect for the 2006 draft. Last year Frolik played for Kladno (Czech) with Jiri Tlustly (#8 prospect), scoring two goals with seven assists.

13)James Sheppard- A 6-2 201-pound left wing from Nova Scotia. He scored 30 goals and had 54 assists for Cape Breton (QMJHL) last season. He is an aggressive forward with good puck handling skills

14)Chris Stewart- A 6-1 227-pound right wing from Ontario. Chris' older brother Anthony was a 2003 first round draft pick of the Florida Panthers. Stewart scored 37 goals and had 50 assists in 62 games with Kingston this season. He was a walk-on to the team in 2004.

15)Bob Sanguinetti - A 6-1" 182-pound defenseman from New Jersey. Sanguietti is good at rushing the Last season for Owen Sound (OHL) in 68 games he registered 65 points (14-51-65), averaging 25 minutes per game.

16)Ty Wishart - A 6-4 214-pound defenseman from the Comox B.C. In 70 games with Prince Albert (WHL) he scored five goals with 32 assists.

17)Jonathan Bernier - A 5-11 180-pound goaltender from Quebec. Last season for Lewiston in the QMJHL he posted a 27-26 record, with 2.70 GAA and .908 SV%. He has a good glove and plays the angles well.

18)Ryan White - A 6-0 204-pound center from Brandon, MB. In 72 games played last season with Calgary (WHL) he scored 20 goals and had 33 helpers.

19)Patrick Berglund - A 6-3 187-pound center from Sweden. Berglund played part of a season last year with Allsvenskan in Sweden. In 21 games he scored three goals and had one assist.

20)Mark Mitera - A 6-3 202-pound defenseman from Michigan. Mitera has strong character, great work ethic, and handles pressure well. He played in 39 games with Michigan this year, tallying ten assists and 59 PIM.

**Information from The Hockey News was used when compiling this report**

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